Army Overseas Service Ribbon: Top 10 Cool Facts

army ribbon
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Let’s take a few minutes and discuss the Army Overseas Service Ribbon.

While getting promoted is normally the top priority for most service members, recognition in the form of awards… medals and ribbons is vitally important.

The pride when a child, grandchild or other friend or family member admires your shadow box full of military awards.

What is this ribbon Grandpa?”

That, my child, is the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. I was awarded it for serving outside the United States.”

In the paragraphs below, I am going to give you the top 10 cool facts about the Army Overseas Service Ribbon.

#1: When And Who Established?

The Army Overseas Service Ribbon was established in April of 1981. It was done so by then Secretary of the Army, John Otho Marsh Jr. At the time, Ronald Reagan was the United States President.

#2: Who Can Receive The Army Overseas Service Ribbon?

Any member of the active Army, Army National Guard or Army Reserve who completes a full overseas tour. This must be in accordance to AR 614-30.

#3: Campaign Awards

Originally, the Army Overseas Service Ribbon would not be awarded to service members if they received a campaign or service medal on the same tour.

The Army eliminated that policy and as such, you can be awarded this ribbon even if you have other awards from the same campaign.

#4: More Than 1 Tour

If a service member has more than 1 tour, he/she will not be awarded another ribbon. Instead, a numeral is pinned to the existing ribbon. If you had 4 tours, a number 4 would be pinned to your Army Overseas Service Ribbon.

#5: For Tours Prior To 1981

For those service members who completed tours before the 1981 issuance of this ribbon, they needed to have an active Army status after August of 1981 to be eligible.

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#6: Short Tours

According to regulations, soldiers who serve at least 11 cumulative months over a 24 month period or 9 continuous months on TCS/TDY status can receive overseas tour credit.

#7: 2 For 1?

If a soldier is on a prescribed OCONUS tour and is deployed on a separate OCONUS TDY/TCS status tour, that soldier will receive credit for two overseas tours.

#8: Wearing An Equivalent Award

It may seem odd if you spot an Army service member wearing the equivalent award from a different branch. If that service member was, at one time, a member of the other branch and earned the equivalent award, they are authorized to wear that ribbon on their Army uniform. The Navy/Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard all have equivalent ribbons.

#9: Posthumous

Soldier’s who die and it is officially listed as “in the line of duty,” they are eligible to receive the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. This is a way for friends and family to remember the member’s dedication to the U.S. and freedom.

#10: Hawaiian Confusion

There has been a lot of confusion from Army personnel about eligibility for any deployed to Hawaii.

The fact is, Hawaii is now a State and therefore is ineligible as an overseas tour. But for service members who served in Hawaii before it was a State, they ARE eligible.

The biggest confusion comes for Army personnel who served during the declared Statehood. Would you give the ribbon to them? I would. Hawaii became a State in August of 1959.


Vietnam Memorial picture courtesy of Pixabay

Now, I have heard some opinions that there should be no such thing as an overseas award.

I disagree.

These men and women are leaving their families behind to spend a year or more in a different country with different cultures and often imminent danger.

I see nothing wrong with awarding a ribbon thanking them for service.

What are your thoughts?

Also, I would love to hear from all who have been awarded the Army Overseas Service Ribbon. Give a shout out… Where, when and how many?

You can post all comments and questions below. Thanks for stopping in. Be sure and share this article with your peers.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes

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2 thoughts on “Army Overseas Service Ribbon: Top 10 Cool Facts”

  1. I feel that any service member stationed overseas should receive this award regardless of time out of CONUS. Overseas separation from family is still a strain on any service member.

    I was awarded the Korean Defense Service Medal (retro active) for my time (many months) back in 1979, but not authorized the Overseas Ribbon(est.1981) because I was called back and reassigned at another post due to emergency hardship reasons. It’s hard to explain to my grandchildren how I was recognized for my service in Korea but not recognized for going overseas to do it. If it’s because of cost, I’d pay for the ribbon, just put it on paper that I was there.

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