Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award

The Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is a very prestigious award for any officer or NCO serving in the Army Ordnance Corps. I was very fortunate to have the honor of recommending several people for this award during my military career. The award itself has been around since the mid 1990s. It was designed to recognize individuals for their service to the Ordnance Corps.

Who is Samuel Sharpe?

Samuel Sharpe lived during the 1600s right here in America. He was part of a 13-member council that assisted the governor and deputy governor in overseeing the Massachusetts colonies. In 1629 he was appointed “Master of the Ordnance,” and was responsible for the powder, ammunition, and fireworks, for the colonies. In essence, he was the first Master Gunner in the United States.

According to history, Samuel Sharpe was appointed to many positions in government during the very early years of this country. As the first settlers were arriving at the New World, many things would change about the government and life in general. The government of the Massachusetts Bay Colonies was resided over by a Governor, Deputy Governor, and a Council consisting of thirteen freemen. Mr. Sharpe served as one of these thirteen. He was also charged with the care of the “five pieces of Ordnance: that belonged to the colony.” This took place in February of 1628.

On the 17th of April 1629, Mr. Sharpe was appointed by the Council of the Plantation in Massachusetts Bay Colonies to be “Master Gunner of Ordnance”, a title brought over with the colonist from England. The Master Gunner was charged with care of the “ORDNANCE, SHOT, POWDER, MATCH, LADLES, SPONGES, WORMES, CARTRIDGES, ARMES, FIRE-WORKS, AND THE REST OF THE GUNNERS.” ~ USAOCA.org

ordnance order of samuel sharpe

Criteria

According to the official website of the United States Army Ordnance Association, “the purpose of the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is to recognize those individuals who have served the United States Army Ordnance Corps with demonstrated integrity, moral character, and professional competence over a sustained period of time. And whose selfless contributions to the Corps stand out in the eyes of their seniors, peers, and subordinates alike.”

When was it Introduced?

The award has been around almost 30-years now. Here’s what I found online:

First introduced in May 1994 by the United States Army Ordnance Corps Association (USAOCA), the Order of Samuel Sharpe ensures the proper recognition of Ordnance personnel who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding professional competence, served the Army Ordnance Corps with selflessness, and contributed to the promotion of the Ordnance Corps in ways that stand out to the recipient’s seniors, subordinates, and peers. ~ CPT Quail

Who is Eligible?

The criteria is a little bit vague. In other words, there isn’t a rank requirement I can find. Typically, I’ve found that the award is normally reserved for E-6s and higher and Captains and higher. But I’ve also known experienced E-5s who received the award and some senior lieutenants who were previously enlisted, who received the award. As long as you have a good amount of experience in the Ordnance Corps (probably five years or more) you are eligible for the nomination. Ultimately, it’s up to your O-6 (or the Association) to approve your nomination.

Who is the Approving Authority?

The approving authority is the first O-6 Ordnance Officer in the Chain of Command, or a General Officer. If there isn’t an Ordnance Officer in the chain of command, the form is sent to the Ordnance Corps Association to be forwarded to the Ordnance Chief.

Wear of the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe

So, when are you allowed to wear your Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe award? Here’s what I found online:

When attending an official function of the Ordnance Branch or during times of personally authorized wear of the uniform, at the wearers discretion, but not at official functions.

Examples:
1. DO wear when attending a reception for the incoming Chief of Ordnance
2. DO NOT wear when attending an officers call with your organization, and not an Ordnance function.
3. DO wear if the invite specifically states “regimental awards permitted”.
4. DO wear if attending a local civic function and you choose to wear the award for personal reasons.
5. DO wear if you want to wear your awards to a personal function (i.e. a wedding).
6. DO NOT wear to your unit’s organization’s ball (unless #3).

Source: USAOCA.org

What Do You Get?

When you get approved for the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe, you get a certificate and medal. According to one resource online “The Samuel Sharpe medal depicts an eagle holding a flintlock rifle, surrounded by oak leaves, with a shell and flame overhead. The eagle represents America’s freedom, which has been defended faithfully by members of the corps since 1812. The flintlock rifle represents the Ordnance Corps’ beginnings and the materiel support provided by Ordnance personnel in both peace and war. The oak leaves represent the strength and resolve of the Ordnance Corps to stand the test of time. The shell and flame represent the unleashed energy of the Ordnance Corps.”

Army Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe
Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe

My Thoughts

As a Small Unit Leader in a Logistics Unit, you should educate yourself about this award. If you have squared officers and NCOs working with you who serve in the Ordnance Corps, you might want to consider submitting them for this award. This is great for morale and esprit de corps in your unit. And your subordinates will appreciate that you took the time to do it. All you have to do is fill out a nomination form and get your chain of command to approve it.

Conclusion

In summary, the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is a great award for Ordnance Officers and NCOs. It’s designed to recognize Soldiers for their time honored commitment to the Ordnance Corps. It’s dedicated to Samuel Sharpe, who was an important and patriotic man during the 1600s. Very few people know about the award. If you are an Ordnance Soldier, or have Ordnance Soldiers working for you, you should educate yourself about this award and use it to recognize your good Soldiers.

On a side note, if you have been on the receiving or giving end of this award, I would love to hear your story. Please tell us about your experience with the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe. Also, if you have any questions about this award, you can post them below.

Sincerely,
chuck holmes







Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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27 thoughts on “Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award”

  1. My old 1SG put me in for this award. I have to say I have earned a Purple Heart, 2 Bronze Stars, a couple MSMs, and other awards, but I have to admit as I’m most proud of this award. I’m one of a small group of people that have received this award and my name will for ever be linked to it.

  2. Question is can a Soldiers receive a second award Samuel Sharpe? In the event the person putting the Solder in did not know he or she has one already?

  3. My questions is, I was not aware of this award while serving in the military. Is it possible to receive this award post military? Or is it possible to receive this award as a civilian still serving in the Ordinance Corps capacitiy?

    1. I haven’t done one of these awards in quite some time. I no longer have the write up. If I remember right, it as on a separate piece of paper. Maybe someone else can chime in here.

  4. I was submitted for this award while serving in Afghanistan by my Warrant officer it was sign off on by the Battalion Commander and all but within a few weeks my chief got a response basically saying it needed more said for garrison I was E-5 at the time with 7 years service but my whole Chain of Command thought i was more than deserving of the award due to my enormous contribution to the Ordnance Corps. My Chief said he honestly think its because I didnt have a whole lot of years which is not criteria but rather the contribution you make,I was really dispointed

    1. I am very sorry to hear that Patrick. It does sound like you deserve the recognition, but do not let that hold you back. Keep striving forward and great things will come your way.

  5. I understand that this prestigious award is for the Ordnance Corps although with my research I have only found examples and mentioning of Arms or weapons related MOS’s my question is can Maintenance MOS’s receive this award since they fall under the Ordnance Corps

    1. CW4 Michael Tkacz

      Yes your maintenance soldiers can recieve the award to include your PC’s that work within the maintenance fields or FMS/CSMS’s. The really is no rank requirement but I have always been under my own personnel rules and that is, are they always preaching good maintenance, do they understand it and not just talk it and do they go above and beyond the position they are in to ensure full mission success. For those who have recieved it I am sure they were proud and rightfully so, but we don’t want the award to lose it’s meaning because it is given out to freely. There is plenty of time in a young soldiers career to recieve the award but if they are constantly going above and beyond then fell free but while you are at it you may as well promote them if they are doing so well.

  6. Thanks for explaining what the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award is. It’s cool to have a prestigious award that honors a true Patriot who helping ensure freedom before our country even declared independence. Anyone who gets the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe must be very proud. Recognizing soldiers who do a little bit extra can pay off immensely with morale.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is a great award. I’ve presented it to a few Soldiers myself and they really appreciated it.

      Chuck

  7. Katelyn Hensel

    Imagine, being part of something so powerful and meaningful that you have an award commissioned after you. That my friend, is an accomplishment. While I don’t quite know the ranks of the military quite well, being the first Master Gunner of the United States has a pretty ring to it. It seems that Samuel Sharpe is a man that most of us have forgotten in history, but the army is keeping his memory alive.

    1. Samuel Sharpe did some great things during his life. The Army has done a great job honoring him and remembering his contribution to our country. The Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe is indeed a fine award. I’ve awarded it to several soldiers and they were always very proud of it.

  8. I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know who Samuel Sharpe was before reading this post. First Master Gunner in the US – that’s quite a place in history! Thanks for writing about this prestigious award, which any officer or NCO would be honored to receive. It’s strange that the eligibility criteria are so vague. But “integrity, moral character and professional competence” sums up the characteristics of a good soldier, along with “selfless contributions to the Corps” – definitely worthy of an award.

    1. The eligibility for the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe Award is a bit vague. I think they do that to leave it at the discretion of the person putting them in for the award, which is a good thing in my opinion.

      And to reply to your comment, Samuel Sharpe was the first Master Gunner in the United States. He has a very important role in military history and should never be forgotten.

  9. Thank you for this thoughtful post. I was unaware of any such specialty awards as these though they make good sense. I was in the medical field and don’t know of an award such as the one you mentioned, though I was invited to participate in the AMEDD Best Medic competitions which serve the same purpose. Both unit and individual morale are what keeps a unit functioning and should never be overlooked..

    1. Every branch as a similar award to the Ordnance Order of Samuel Sharpe. I agree with you that awards and competitions are a great way to raise the bar and bring out the best in your Soldiers. If you supervise others, you should take the time to educate about what your/their branch has to offer so you can put them in for a specialty award if they are deserving.

  10. Most branches within the Army have some form of recognition like this available over and above the awards for which all soldiers are eligible. The post is absolutely right–most people don’t know about them. The cavalry has the Order of St. George, and the infantry has the Order of St. Maurice, which I was honored to receive last year. It’s a little ironic–I spent well over a decade in an infantry battalion and never heard of the Order of St. Maurice but was awarded it my second year in a cavalry squadron. Like any other award they shouldn’t just be handed out willy-nilly, but for people who deserve a little extra recognition, they’re great, and they mean even more because they’re specific to the awardee’s career specialty.

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