How to look up Bronze Star awards

How do I look up award ribbons, specifically Bronze star for soldiers?

  • Dear Mr. Keane,


    Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


    Unfortunately, there is no name index for Bronze Star awards. The citations are issued at various levels of the military hierarchy. The Official Military Personnel File of a U.S. soldier will list the general order citation that includes the unit or command that issued the award. We suggest you begin there.


    Several non-official websites list Bronze Star recipients such as Wall of Valor, American War Library,, and Wikipedia Commons but they are incomplete.


    We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

  • Also note that the Bronze Star Medal has always been awarded for either valor or achievement/service.  Some websites, particularly Wall of Valor, only focus on the awards for valor, and won't list those awarded for achievement or service.  And the vast majority of Bronze Star Medals are awarded for achievement or service.

    Also, following World War II, the Army awarded anyone who had been awarded a Combat Infantry Badge or a Combat Medical Badge a Bronze Star Medal for service.  I don't know how those are documented (or if, for veterans, unless they applied for them).  Keep that in mind as well.

    I presume you know this Mr. Keane, so I'll state it for other readers, but the Bronze Star Medal is the award.  Family members often see a campaign ribbon listed "with two bronze stars" (for example).  So, a Vietnam Service Medal with two bronze stars means that the veteran participated in two campaigns during the war--not that they were awarded two Bronze Star Medals.  I've seen a number of obituaries where family members make that mistake.

  • Regarding Bronze stars, it looks like they are awarded to units for achievement/ service. Where can you find the criteria that was met in which action or operation and generally what happened. I’m speaking of the Vietnam War 1969-1970 , the 1st Cavalry Div (airmobile). Thank you.

Reply Children
  • The Bronze Star Medal is an individual award. It is awarded for meritorious achievement or service in combat operations, or for valor, in which case it has a bronze "V" affixed to the ribbon.

    The bronze service stars which are worn on the campaign medals (for example, the Korean Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, etc.) are awarded for being in a specific theater of operations during a specific specified time period. Even if you get there the day before that campaign ends, you're awarded that campaign star.

    Now, everyone who is in the unit during that particular day is going to be entitled to that campaign star, but the Service Medals are individual awards.

    HOWEVER . . . units are awarded campaign streamers--2, 3, or 4 foot long lengths of ribbon in the same pattern as the service medal ribbon (the length and width of the ribbon depends on the level of the unit--company [recently authorized to replace silver bands by the army], battalion, or regimental & above). That may be what you're thinking of when you refer to bronze stars being "unit awards.

    In Vietnam, for example, the campaigns tended to run about six months. So, because of the tour length of one year, most Vietnam Veterans tend to have three campaign stars, as a general rule.

    The Southwest Asia Service Medal, for the 1990-91 Persian Guld War, had three campaign stars. One that coincided with Desert Shield, one that started with Desert Storm and covered the Redeployment period, and a third for the stay-behind force.

    An easy way to research them is to read the article on the particular medal you're interested in on Wikipedia. They do a pretty good job of laying out the criteria for each of the campaign stars, and if you want to dig deeper (some of them vary by service, for example), you can always use the references to read the regulations that underpin the information.