IAGenWeb.org Iowa in the Great War

Bronze and Silver Oak Leaf Cluster


      An oak leaf cluster is a common device which is placed on military awards and decorations to denote those who have received more than one bestowal of a particular decoration. The number of oak leaf clusters typically indicates the second and subsequent award of the decoration.

     Most military awards use bronze, silver, and gold oak leaf clusters. The higher ranking oak leaf clusters are issued "in lieu" of a lesser number, allowing a large number of award annotations to fit on a single ribbon. For instance, five bronze oak leaf clusters would be denoted by one silver and five silver by one gold.

     The United States military only issues bronze and silver oak leaf clusters. Gold oak leaf clusters were briefly considered as a device for the Air Medal, but this was not adopted by any of the services.

     The bronze oak leaf cluster represents second and subsequent entitlements of awards. The silver oak leaf cluster represents sixth, 11th, etc., entitlements or in lieu of five bronze oak leaf clusters. Silver oak leaf clusters are worn to the wearer's right of the bronze oak leaf clusters on the same ribbon.

     The bronze Oak Leaf Cluster is awarded to and worn by Army and Air Force personnel on all US decorations, except the Air Medal, to denote the second and subsequent awards.  A silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in lieu of five bronze.  OLC's are also worn on unit citations, The Prisoner of War Medal, and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal for the same purpose.