David Petraeus' uniform: What do all those stars, medals, and ribbons mean?

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May 18 2011 10:15 AM

Decorated Officer

An interactive guide to all the stars, medals, and ribbons on the uniform of Gen. David Petraeus.

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•          State Department Secretary's Distinguished Service Award. Then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice presented this award to Petraeus in December 2008 for his work as the top U.S. commander in Iraq.

•          State Department Superior Honor Award. Like the State Department's Distinguished Service Award, but less prestigious. The eligibility requirements are broad but generally recognize contributions to the department's goals. You can even get it for "[i]nnovation and creativity in accomplishing long-term tasks or projects" or "[c]ontributions that resulted in increased productivity and efficiency, and economy of operations at agency level."

•          Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic (1st Grade)

•          Polish Iraq Star. Awarded to Polish participants in the Iraq War, as well as non-Polish citizens who have collaborated with the Polish forces there.


•          Polish Army Medal (Gold)

•          Romanian Emblem of Honor

•          Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland

•          British Army Parachutist Badge (Junior level)

•          German Parachutist Badge (Bronze)

Correction, May 20, 2011: The interactive feature on this page originally stated that Gen. Petraeus earned his three National Defense Service Medals for service in Operation Desert Spring, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. Rather, he earned them for active service during the Vietnam War, Gulf War, and the Global War on Terrorism.  National Defense Service Medals were not issued for service during Operation Desert Spring.