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So what do all these stripes mean, anyway?

One of the most confusing aspects to the Auxiliary Uniform can be the Office insignia we wear. Note the term used is “Office”, not “Rank”. Auxiliary insignia shows the highest office earned by that member. And this is where the confusion can set in for new members.

Unlike a military organization, the senior official may not be wearing the “highest” office insignia in the Flotilla or even Division. Part of the reason for this is while elected officers (silver ‘A’ on sleeve & shoulder boards, blue ‘A’ on metal insignia) must pass through the lower offices before being nominated for higher office, no such restriction is in place for appointed officers (red ‘A’ on sleeve, shoulder boards and metal insignia). Appointment is seldom dependent upon seniority, but rather who is interested in, and has the qualifications for, the office in question.

Past Officer DeviceAnother reason this can be confusing is that once a member has completed one or more terms in an elected or appointed office, they are eligible to continue to wear the insignia of the highest office they held. So, one could see members wearing two and a half stripes or gold oak leaves (VCP, DSO, BC), yet they hold no elected or appointed office. This is indicated by the Past Officer Device (right), worn below the member's nametag. A member who currently holds office may also wear the Past Officer Device if the insignia she is wearing is “higher” than that of their current office (from a previous term at higher office).

If you think this is confusing, thirty years ago, Auxiliary officers wore insignia of their current office on the right sleeve, and insignia of past higher office on the left!

National Staff Pin

For elected and appointed offices that use the same base insignia, the elected office is considered the higher office, notwithstanding the fact that the appointed office was at a higher administrative level.

Officers appointed to national office also wear the National Staff Badge (left), to distinguish them from District Staff Officers with the same insignia.

If you look at the right side of this page, you will see the various insignia broken down by administrative level. Look closely, and you can see that sometimes two or more offices share the same insignia. For all offices except the District Commodore, National Rear- and Vice-Commodore, and the National Commodore, the insignia worn on the sleeve of the Service Dress Blue jacket and Dinner Dress Blue jacket is the same as the shoulder board. For these three offices, the sleeve insignia consists of one two-inch-wide braid for the first or only star in the collar device, and an additional half-inch wide braid for each additional star. So, the DCO wears only the two-inch braid, while the NACO wears the two-inch wide braid and two half-inch wide braids.

Other uniform devices

Like the Coast Guard, the Auxiliary uses various breast devices to denote qualification in various programs. There is a Coxwain device, Pilot wings, Aircrew wings and the Trident Device. These are awarded after the auxiliarist has passed a rigorous qualification process. Auxiliarists may also wear qualification devices earned during military service such as Naval Aviator wings, Combat Infantryman badge, etc.

Operational Auxiliarist Device

The Auxiliary has one device that is unique. This is the “AUXOP” device. It is awarded to auxiliarists who have completed the six specialty courses, and identifies them as auxiliarists who have a superior knowledge of the missions of the Auxiliary. It is worn above the nametag on the right side of the uniform. When the AUXOP device is awarded, the member no longer wears the Specialty Course ribbon.

The Chief Director of Auxiliary has a web page showing the various Auxiliary devices.


The last item worn on certain uniforms is the member's ribbons. Ribbons represent or stand-in for medals on certain uniforms. Ribbons are normally the same color and material of the suspension ribbon for the award they represent. Ribbons are worn on Tropical Blue, Service Dress Blue, Service Dress White, and Winter Dress Blue uniforms.

Auxiliarists are eligible to receive certain awards and ribbons to indicate their participation in Auxiliary programs, in addition to length of service awards. These are detailed on the Chief Director's web page.

Members with Prior (or current) military awards may wear some or all of them in accordance with the Commandant's instructions and Coast Guard order of precedence. The Chief Director's website has a very good Ribbon Checker on it. You can verify the precedence order of your ribbons, which determines their placement. The higher the requirements for the award, the higher the ribbon is placed. There is a specific order to the ribbons, it is not random, nor left up to the individual. This precedence is established in the Medals and Awards manual, COMDTINST M1650.25C (large PDF file), and AUXMAN Ch. 11 (PDF file).

The highest precedence award goes on the top row of ribbons, and closest to the center of the wearer's chest. The award with the lowest precedence goes on the bottom row, toward the wearer's arm. Ribbons should be mounted on a single ribbon holder. These are available from the District Store and Coast Guard Exchanges in sizes to hold one to more than thirty ribbons. They are inexpensive, costing under $ 6.00 for most. Placing all of your ribbons on a single holder gives your uniform a professional, finished look.

When an Auxiliarist receives a award for a second or third time, instead of wearing a duplicate ribbon, the wearer places a device on the ribbon to indicate a subsequent award. In most cases a bronze or gold star is added for each subsequent award. Which color, and which size is dependent on the particular award. Many of these additional devices are made in multiples, so rather than moving the stars each time, the single is replaced with a dual, then a triple, etc. For the sixth award, the four bronze or gold stars are removed, and replaced with a single silver star in the appropriate size. Other devices include letters and hourglasses.

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Site designed by: Larry West, FSO-CS

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Should this policy change for any reason, the change will be noted in this space.

(No office held)
Member Collar Device: Auxiliary Emblem Member Shoulder Board: Shield with silver A, no stripes
Flotilla Officer
Flotilla Staff Officer Collar Device: gold bar with letter A Flotilla Staff Officer Shoulder Board: Shield with red A, one half-inch stripe
Flotilla Staff
Officer (FSO)
Vice Flotilla Commander Collar Device: Silver Bar with blue letter A Vice Flotilla Commander Shoulder Board: Shield with silver A, one half inch stripe and one quarter inch stripe
Vice Flotilla
Commander (VFC)
Flotilla Commander Collar Device: two silver bars with blue A Flotilla Commander Shoulder Board: shield with silver A, two half inch stripes
Commander (FC)
Division Officer
(Division) Staff Officer Collar Device: Silver bar with red A (Division) Staff Officer Shoulder Board: Shield with red A, one half inch stripe and one quarter inch stripe
Officer (SO)
Vice Division Captain Collar Device: gold oak leaf with blue A Vice Division Captain Shoulder Board: shield with silver A, two half inch stripes surrounding one quarter inch stripe
Captain (VCP)
Division Captain Collar Device: silver oak leaf with blue A Division Captain Shoulder Board: shield with silver A, three half inch stripes
Captain (DC)
District Officer
Assistant Division Staff Officer Collar Device: two silver bars with red A Assistant Division Staff Officer Shoulder Boards: shield with red A, two half inch stripes
Assistant District
Staff Officer (ADSO)
District Staff Officer Collar Device: gold oak leaf with red A District Staff Officer Shoulder Board: shield with red A, two half inch stripes surrounding one quarter inch stripe
Staff Officer (DSO)
rear and vice commodore collar device: silver spread eagle, blue A rear and vice commodore shoulder board: shield with silver A, four half inch stripes
Rear- and Vice-
Commodore (RCO/VCO)
District Commodore Collar Device: Single Star with blue A District Commodore Shoulder board: Silver braid with single star
Commodore (DCO)
National Officer
Branch Assistant Collar Device: two silver bars with red A Branch Assistant Shoulder Boards: shield with red A, two half inch stripes
Branch Assistant
Branch Chief Collar Device: gold oak leaf with red A Branch Chief Shoulder Board: shield with red A, two half inch stripes surrounding one quarter inch stripe
Branch Chief
Division Chief Collar Device: Silver Oak Leaf, Red A Division Chief Shoulder board: Shield with red A, three half inch stripes
Division Chief
Department Chief Collar Device: silver spread eagle, red A Department Chief Choulder Board: Shield with red A, four half inch stripes
Department Chief
National Rear and vice commodore collar device, two stars, blue A National Rear and Vice commodore shoulder boards: silver braid, two stars
National Rear-
and Vice-
Commodore (NARCO/NAVCO)
National Commodore Collar Device: three stars, blue A National Commodore Shoulder Board: silver braid, three stars
Commodore (NACO)