Army Meritorious Unit Commendation

Unit Award for Meritorious Service Against an Armed Enemy

U.S. Army Conducts Promotion Ceremony in Babil Province
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Units are awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for a minimum of six months of extraordinarily meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services during the time of military operations against an armed enemy.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation award takes its place in the order of precedence between the Valorous Unit Award and the Army Superior Unit Award. It is the unit award that is the equivalent of the individual Legion of Merit.

Description of the Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon

The Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon worn to show award of the Meritorious Unit Commendation is 1 7/16 inches wide and 9/16 inch in height. The Scarlet ribbon is contained within a 1/16 inch wide Gold frame with laurel leaves. The previously issued emblem was a 1 5/8 inch gold, embroidered laurel wreath on a two inch square Olive Drab cloth.

Criteria for the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation

The services of units to be awarded Meritorious Unit Commendation have these characteristics:

  • A minimum of six months of extraordinarily meritorious conduct
  • The service is during a time of military operations against an armed enemy, either in a combat zone or involving the combat effort
  • The service cannot be in the continental United States or outside the area of operation.
  • The service took place after January 1, 1944.

The unit receiving the award must have shown devotion and superior performance of extremely complex tasks that set their unit above and beyond other units under similar circumstances with similar missions.

The degree of accomplishment required is equivalent to that which would justify the award of the Legion of Merit to an individual. Rarely will a unit larger than a battalion meet the qualifications for the award of this decoration.

Awards are made to units for services conducted during World War II if performed between 1 January 1944 and 15 September 1946.

The Meritorious Unit Commendation was authorized for units and/or detachments of the United States military for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services for at least six continuous months in support of military operations. This service must relate to combat support activities and not be activities performed by senior headquarters, combat, or combat support units.

Who Can Wear the Meritorious Unit Commendation Award?

All members of the unit cited for the award are approved to wear the emblem of the Meritorious Unit Commendation. The emblem is thought of as an individual decoration for those in connection with the cited acts and is approved to be worn if they continue as members of the unit or not. Other personnel serving with the unit are approved to wear the emblem to show that the unit is a recipient of the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Army awards and decorations are approved accordance to the guidance contained in Army Regulation 600-8-22. Rules for the proper wear of Army awards and decorations can be found in Army Regulation 670-1 . The policy for display of unit awards on guidons and flags and supply of streamers is found in AR 840-10.      

Background of the Army Meritorious Unit Commendation

The Meritorious Unit Commendation was originally established by War Department Circular 345 on 23 August 1944, as the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque. This circular provided that units which received the Plaque were entitled to wear on their right sleeves of their service coat and shirt the Meritorious Service Unit Insignia. A gold star placed on the plaque represented additional awards until War Department Circular No. 54, 1946, provided that additional awards would be shown by placing a golden numeral on the inside of the wreath.

In December 1946 the Meritorious Service Unit Plaque was eliminated, replaced with the issue of the Meritorious Unit Commendation.

A new design of the Meritorious Service Unit emblem was approved by the D/PA in April 1947.

This replaced the sleeve insignia and was to be effective 1 January 1949. Stock levels of the insignia were such that the phase-out was delayed for several years. Wear of the old one was prohibited after 30 June 1962. However, the stock level was still such that it was not introduced into the supply system until 14 July 1966.

On 16 May 1947, AR 260-15 announced Meritorious Unit Commendation, granted the wear of the Meritorious Unit Commendation emblem, and permitted the display of the scarlet Meritorious Unit Commendation streamer, which displayed the name of the applicable theater of operations in white letters.