Established in 1954, the Iowa Outstanding Unit Award honors Iowa National Guard units that carry out exceptional service so as to set themselves apart from other units, typically involving combat or other operations against hostile forces.
The Iowa National Guard is composed of the Iowa Army National Guard and the Iowa Air National Guard. The Army component is based in Johnston and traces its roots back to militia activity in 1838. Also headquartered in Johnston, the Air component was founded on September 18, 1847, when the United States Air Force was established as a distinct branch of the military.
The ribbon is red and is bisected by a vertical dark blue stripe flanked on either side by a thin white stripe; it features a gold frame with a leaf pattern.