US Armed Service Order of Precedence
Under current Department of Defense regulation, the various components of the Armed Forces have a set order of seniority.
Examples of the use of this system include the display of service flags, placement of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen in formation, etc.
When the United States Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Navy, the US Coast Guard Academy, the US Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Reserve shall take precedence, respectively, after the United States Naval Academy Midshipmen; the United States Navy; and Navy Reserve.
- US Military Academy Cadets
- US Naval Academy Midshipmen
- United States Coast Guard Academy Cadets (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Navy)
- US Air Force Academy Cadets
- United States Coast Guard Academy Cadets (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Department of Homeland Security)
- US Merchant Marine Academy Midshipmen,
- United States Army
- United States Marine Corps
- United States Navy
- United States Coast Guard (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Navy)
- United States Air Force
- United States Space Force
- United States Coast Guard (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Department of Homeland Security)
- Army National Guard of the United States
- United States Army Reserve
- United States Marine Corps Reserve
- United States Navy Reserve
- United States Coast Guard Reserve (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Navy)
- Air National Guard of the United States
- United States Air Force Reserve
- United States Coast Guard Reserve (when the Coast Guard shall operate as part of the Department of Homeland Security)
- Other training and auxiliary organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, United States Merchant Marine, Civil Air Patrol, and United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, as in the preceding order.
Note: While the United States Navy is actually older than the United States Marine Corps, the Marine Corps takes precedence over the Navy due to previous inconsistencies in the Navy's birth date. The Marine Corps has recognized its observed birth date on a more consistent basis. The Second Continental Congress established the Navy on 13 October 1775 and the Marine Corps on 10 November 1775. The Navy did not officially recognize 13 October 1775 as its birth date until 1972 when, then-Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo Zumwalt authorized it to be observed as such.
Despite the erroneous information displayed on some websites, the POW/MIA flag is not considered to be a "National Flag". Except on the specific days listed below, the POW/MIA flag is considered to be an organizational flag. Organizational flags are the last group of flags in the precedence list.
Congress designated the third Friday of September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day and ordered prominent display of the POW/MIA flag on ...
- Armed Forces Day ... third Saturday in May
- Memorial Day ... last Monday in May
- Flag Day ... June 14
- Independence Day ... July 4
- POW/MIA Recognition Day ... third Friday in September
- Veterans Day ... November 11
If flying the flag from one flag pole, the POW/MIA flag is flown directly below the National Colors and above any state flag. If flying National, POW/MIA and State flags from two poles, the POW/MIA flag should be flown from the same pole as the U.S. flag, and beneath the U.S. flag, with the state flag flying from the pole to the left. If flying flags from three poles, the U.S. flag occupies the place of prominence (the right), with the POW/MIA flag immediately to the left of the U.S. flag, and the state flag to the left of the POW/MIA flag.
Active-duty military color guards do not carry a POW/MIA flag because it is an organizational flag. Other color guards that do carry the POW/MIA flag should position it among organizational flags, i.e. last in the order of precedence.
On the six national observances for which Congress has ordered display of the POW/ MIA flag, and only on those six observances, it is generally flown immediately below or adjacent to the United States flag (to the left of the United States flag or to the viewer's right of the United States flag) as second in order of precedence.