Awards are one of the most important aspect of a Personnel Officer's job, because they are the tangible means by which we recognize our members. CAPR 39-3 breaks awards into several categories. The major categories are Decorations, Cadet & Senior Program Awards, AE Awards, Activity and Service Ribbons, and Special Awards. Each category is processed slightly differently.

NOTE: Some awards require supporting documentation (for example, Cadet of the Year requires school transcripts). When sending this supporting documentation, be sure to obscure any sensitive information such as social security numbers prior to submitting/emailing. This information isn't needed by the review boards/approvers. Check documents closely, as this information may appear multiple times. NEVER send social security numbers via's not secure.


Decorations are awarded to recognize heroism or superior service. Numerous decorations exist, and the general criteria are shown below. The awards are listed by precedence from highest to lowest. For example, a Distinguished Service Award recognizes a much larger scope of service than an Achievement Award.

Available Decorations

Silver Medal of Valor: Distinguished and conspicuous heroic action, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of normal duty.

Bronze Medal of Valor: Distinguished and conspicuous heroic action where danger to self is probable and known.

Distinguished Service Award: Conspicuous performance of outstanding service in a duty of great responsibility where position/duty reflect on the accomplishments and prestige of CAP on a national scale.

Exceptional Service Award: Exceptionally outstanding service in a duty of great responsibility. It should carry ultimate responsibility for the successful operation of a wing, region, or major project in a wing/region.

Meritorious Service Award: Outstanding achievement or meritorious service rendered specifically on behalf of CAP.

Commander's Commendation Award: Outstanding duty performance where achievements/services are clearly & unmistakably exceptional when compared to those of members of like rank/responsibility.

Achievement Award: Outstanding service to the unit, group or wing.

Certificate of Recognition for Lifesaving: Awarded to members who save a human life but don't meet the criteria for a Medal of Valor. (Commonly called the "Lifesaving Award")

National Commander's Unit Citation Award: Awarded by the National Commander for units providing services/achievements above and beyond what's normally recognized by the Unit Citation Award.

Unit Citation Award: Exceptionally meritorious service/exceptionally outstanding achievement which clearly sets the unit above & apart from similar units

Common Mistakes

The most common mistakes with regard to decorations is confusing the hierarchy of the awards (i.e. which one recognizes a greater scope of service) and confusing which awards recognize individuals and which ones recognize entire units. There has also been confusion regarding wear of the unit award ribbons.

The awards are listed above by precedence from highest to lowest. Note that a Distinguished Service Award recognizes service to CAP at a national scale whereas an Achievement Award recognizes service to the unit, group or wing. Thus, if a member is being recognized for their service to the squadron, an Achievement Award would be appropriate while a Distinguished Service Award would not.

All of the awards listed above are for individuals with the exception of the National Commander's Unit Citation Award and the Unit Citation Award. The Unit Citation Award and National Commander's Unit Citation Award recognize an entire unit's service. These awards should not be requested for individuals.

Special attention should be paid to CAPR 39-3 paragraphs 9i and 9j. Paragraph 9i reads, in part, "Members are awarded the National Commander's Unit Citation ribbon if they were members of the unit during the time period for which the citation is awarded." Paragraph 9j reads, in part, "Members are awarded the Unit Citation ribbon if they were members of the unit during the time period for which the citation is awarded." These paragraphs mean a member is awarded the appropriate ribbon only if they were members of the unit during the time for which the unit was recognized. Members who entered the unit (either by joining or transferring) after that time are not awarded the ribbon and do not wear it. (Once awarded, the ribbons may be worn even if the member later transfers to another unit.)

When to Request Decorations

There's no requirement that decorations be submitted only once a year. When someone warrants an award, submit it. That said, remember that a single act can be recognized only once. So, in considering award recommendations, you should decide if a particular event warrants faster recognition or if it should be "saved" and included on a later recommendation for a higher decoration.

Remember that all decorations are approved beyond the squadron. Achievement Awards are approved at Group, Commander's Commendations go to Wing, and everything else goes at least to Region. The higher the award, the more likely the review committee won't know the member. The nomination must tell the whole story!

Finally, remember that reviews at various echelons take time. If you want an award to be presented at a particular event, you need to submit it well in advance of that event to allow for necessary reviews.

How to Request Decorations

Decorations are requested via the Award Recommendation module in e-Services. They can be requested via CAPF120 submitted through the chain of command (for all decorations other than the Achievement Award, the 120 can be emailed to and a Sertifi request will be set up to gather appropriate signatures; for the Achievement Award contact your Group Personnel Officer to determine their preference in handling it). Even though the CAPF120 is an option, the online system is highly recommended as it provides a greater degree of tracking.

Aerospace Education Awards

The Yeager Award recognizes completion of the Aerospace Education Program for Senior Members. Once members complete the online test, they are able to print a certificate.

The Crossfield Award recognizes completing a master rating in the Aerospace Education Specialty Track. To get the award, the commander needs to complete the master rating checklist from CAPP215 and send it to NHQ/DP.

Cadet Program Awards

These awards fall under Cadet Programs rather than Personnel, but the Personnel Officer may still be called to assist. Units print the Wright Brothers Certificate. Other milestone certificates are sent from National Headquarters. For non-milestone achievements, the necessary information is recorded in e-Services and approved by the commander.

Cadet Program Awards include the Curry, Arnold, Feik, Rickenbacker, Lindbergh, Doolittle, Goddard and Armstrong Achievements and the Wright Brothers, Mitchell, Earhart, Eaker and Spaatz Awards.

Senior Program/Professional Development Awards

These awards fall under Professional Development rather than Personnel, but the Personnel Officer may be called to assist (and in many units one member may serve in both positions). Units can print the certificate for Level 1. You should still complete the CAPF2a for the Membership Ribbon IAW CAPR 50-17 para 3-6. Place a copy in the member's personnel file.

There is no certificate for the Leadership Ribbon. You should complete a CAPF2a for the Leadership Ribbon IAW CAPR 50-17 para 4-3. Place a copy in the member's personnel file.

All other Senior Program Awards are accomplished by completing the appropriate page in the PD Awards module in e-Services. It can also be done via CAPF24 but it's highly recommended that you use the online module as it provides better tracking. For items not tracked in e-Services such as staffing PD events, attending conferences, etc., be prepared to provide some form of supporting documentation. If you elect to use the paper CAPF24, send the completed form to and Wing will create a Sertifi request to gather all signatures.

Senior Program Awards include the Membership and Leadership Ribbons and the Davis, Loening, Garber, and Wilson Awards.

Activity and Service Ribbons

Under Tennessee Wing's supplement to CAPR 39-3, the unit commander is the approving authority for all activity and service ribbons except the Color Guard and Cadet Competition Ribbons (because CAPR 39-3 sets a quota on the number of senior member recipients. These are approved via CAPF 2a. Remember to include supporting documentation with the form. For Disaster Relief events and "Find" missions, Wing will distribute a participation letter indicating which members were on the mission (this can be used for the documentation). The commander cannot approve ribbons for himself/herself, so the next-higher commander is the approval authority for the unit commander.

Activity and Service Ribbons include the IACE Ribbon, National Cadet Competition Ribbon, National Color Guard Competition Ribbon, Cadet Special Activities Ribbon, Encampment Ribbon, Command Service Ribbon, Red Service Ribbon, Air Search and Rescue Ribbon, Find Ribbon, Counterdrug Ribbon, Disaster Relief Ribbon, Disaster Relief Ribbon with "V" Device, Cadet Orientation Pilot Ribbon, Community Service Ribbon, Cadet Advisory Council Ribbon, Recruiter Ribbons (Cadet & Senior) and the Homeland Security Ribbon.

Special Awards

This is not a complete list (see CAPR 39-3 for that), but it includes common ones a unit might handle.

Additional Cadet Awards

Several awards from outside agencies are available for units with cadets. These are awarded to every unit...all you have to do is ask (but you do have to ask)!

Air Force Association to Outstanding CAP Cadets: See CAPR 39-3 para 42 for information on how to apply. Deadline is Jan 15.

Air Force Sergeants Association to Outstanding Squadron Cadet NCO: Commander applies directly to AFSA. See CAPR 39-3 para 43. Deadline is Apr 15.

Veterans of Foreign Wars award for Cadet NCOs and Cadet Officers: Two awards are available for each unit, one for a Cadet Officer and one for a Cadet NCO. Apply via CAPF120 sent to the VFW. See CAPR 39-3 para 44 for award criteria and mailing address for the CAPF120. Deadline is Apr 15.

Of The Year Awards

In general, these are requested like decorations (Awards Recommendation Module preferred but CAPF 120 is an alternate). Some specify a specific form to use, and that will be noted below. Most "of the Year" awards are due TO WING by January 15 (but remember they have to get group approval first). Some awards, such as Director of Finance of the Year, apply only to Wing and aren't listed here.

Many awards are named after an individual, and it can be hard to find them in the selection list of the online Award Recommendation Module. For example, the Aerospace Education Officer of the Year is named the "Major General Jeanne M. Holm Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Officer of the Year Award". Check the award titles carefully!

Remember that Wing-level awardees are considered for Region-level awards, and Region awardees are the group considered for the National-level awards. The same nomination that is used for the Wing-level award is the one passed on to Region and possibly National. The only knowledge the reviewers have is the information in the nomination, so if you have a potential Region or National-level candidate, be sure to write the nomination as if you're writing it for the National award.

Available awards are:

Senior Member of the Year

Cadet of the Year (apply via CAPF 60-84)

Colonel Edwin W, Lewis, Jr. Incident Staff Member of the Year

Colonel Dion E. DeCamp Ground Team of the Year

Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Teacher of the Year

Major General Jeanne M. Holm Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Officer of the Year

Norm Edwards Counterdrug Officer of the Year

Col David Kantor Operations Staff Officer of the Year

Lt Col T. Keith Riddle Aircrew Member of the Year

Professional Development Officer of the Year

Air Force Sergeants Association Outstanding Cadet NCO of the Year (apply via CAPF 60-84) (This differs from the AFSA award above)

Air Force Association AE Cadet of the Year

John V. "Jack" Sorenson Cadet Programs Officer of the Year

Communicator of the Year

Senior Chaplain of the Year (Chaplain at Group or higher)

Squadron Chaplain of the Year

Character Development Instructor of the Year

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award - Cadet

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award - Senior

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award - Outside individual/organization

Frank G. Brewer Memorial Aerospace Award - Lifetime

Property Manager of the Year

Colonel Robert V. "Bud" Payton Public Affairs Officer of the Year

Safety Officer of the Year