Established on February 17, 1969, the Navy/Marine Corps version of the Combat Action Ribbon honors Navy and Marine Corps members who carry out satisfactory active service onshore or in seaborne engagement with hostile forces. Prior to 2008, Coast Guard awardees also received the Navy/Marine Corps version. The Combat Action Ribbon may be awarded retroactively for service carried out between December 7, 1941 and March 1, 1961.
Service members who carry out designated clandestine operations at risk of enemy fire may be eligible for the award, as may be those who encounter IEDs or other explosive devices retroactive to October 7, 2001. Other designated operations may also merit the award at the discretion of the Commandant of the Coast Guard.
The ribbon features a central section with a thin vertical stripe of red, white, and blue each flanked by a thick yellow stripe on either side, a dark blue stripe on the right edge, and a red stripe on the left.
Subsequent awards may be indicated by gold or silver stars.