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1960: ribbon and medals

Sat Nov 24, 2012 1:30 pm

Here's what I've learned about Elvis' ribbon and markmanship badges (medals) from the Institute of Heraldry, U. S. Army:

A larger, clearer, more directly frontal view of the weapons qualification (marksmanship) badges would help, but the photo I've used is the best one I have.

Elvis did not wear his Good Conduct Medal ribbon until after he had detached from his command at Friedburg because he wasn't eligible to wear it. However, since his was a first award, it could be awarded upon completion of his enlistment, even though he had not served three years, because he was leaving the service. If he had decided at the last minute to decline his discharge and reenlist (people do, you know), he would not have been eligible for the award until the entire three years of flawless service had elapsed.

The marksmanship badges are a bit more complicated. Annual (at least) weapons qualification is required for all military personnel, but not everyone is required to qualify on the same weapon, and the criteria for qualification vary from weapon to weapon. We'd need to see very clear photos of the various arrangements Elvis wore to be able to understand why they changed from time to time, but two facts are constant for everyone. If a person achieves Expert on a given weapon three years running, he retains that badge permanently, even though he still has to fire and qualify every year. If a person achieves Expert one year, but only Sharpshooter the next, he must remove his Expert badge and wear a Sharpshooter badge until he re-qualifies at the Expert level.

In Paris in 1960, Elvis wore the Expert badge with two qualification bars, my guess would be Rifle and Pistol. At Fort Dix in March, he wore an Expert badge and one other, but I cannot tell which, nor can I read the qualification bars pendant from them.

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If we could obtain a copy of the page of his service record where his weapons qualifications are recorded, we could use that information to help date photographs taken in his Class A (green) uniform.
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Re: 1960: ribbon and medals

Sun Nov 25, 2012 2:11 am

When he left Brooklyn for Germany in September of 58 he's pictured wearing one for Sharpshooter another for Expert. We talked about briefly before

He had them in March of 1960 also

I can make out Rifle and Pistol hanging bars for Sharpshooter, nothing for Expert. (the first for Sharpshooter might actually say sharpshooter, the first for Expert might be Carbine)


Other possibilities include Mortar, Grenade, Machine Gun, Carbine, Bayonet, Small Bore ...
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Re: 1960: ribbon and medals

Sun Nov 25, 2012 1:00 pm

Thank you, JamesVRoy, for the photos and comments. The information from the Army Institute of Heraldry explains why the marksmanship badges kept changing, sometimes one and sometimes two. Wish we could learn the date each year that he had range time, and the resukts of his qualification trials. Sure would help to place some of the photos. (Navy types qualify only in pistol and rifle, and wear a blue ribbon with fine green stripes, plus S for Sharpshooter or E for Expert, so all of this was new to me. Imagine clanking around with all those qualification bars dangling on your pocket!)