The Air Force Training Ribbon is the lowest United States Air Force award. It sits above foriegn military awards but is still a significant milestone in any Airman’s career. Authorized on October 12, 1980 by the Chief of Staff, it is awarded to Airmen that completed Basic Military Training, Basic Cadet Training, AF ROTC, Officer Training School, or through specialized officer accession programs setup by the USAF. In December 1986 anyone who served on active duty during that month was authorized to wear the ribbon regardless if they completed the entry level programs to enter service.
As depicted in the image to the upper left, the Institute of Heraldry designed the award.
The ribbon is not awarded for completion of non-accession programs such as technical training, Professional Military Education (PME), or other services accession training programs. Enlisted that cross over to become an officer through OTS, ROTC, USAFA, or other programs are authorized to add an oak leaf cluster to signify completion of two accession programs.
Authorized Devices: Oak Leaf Cluster
Other Service Equivalents: Army=Army Service Ribbon, Navy=None, not authorize wear by prior USAF personnel, Marines=None, Coast Guard=None
Besides your standard “this is what the medal is and why”, this ribbon has meaning to the many Airmen that have earned it. While many judge AF basic training programs as easier than other services, the program itself is in fact equally physically and mentally challenging as other services. The training is modified towards the Air Force’s main goals which separates the basic training agenda from other branches.
As an Airman that did earn this award, I can say that while it is the lowest ribbon on my rack, it is the one I am the proudest of. Entering the service at 18 years old and completing the task of basic training was an evolution in my life from high school graduate to a proud U.S. Air Force Airman serving his country. That point in my life signified that I was more than just myself, I was part of something bigger than I could even be alone. Many Americans don’t have or want that distinction for many reasons, but I was given that opportunity to earn this ribbon.
So while this is not the Medal of Honor, it certainly is a testament that myself and others have joined the Profession of Arms and proudly completed the entry into service life, an honor and a privilege.