ARTICLE 134 - WEARING UNAUTHORIZED INSIGNIA, DECORATION, BADGE, RIBBON, DEVICE, OR LAPEL BUTTON
When a service member wears any insignia, badge, decoration, ribbon, lapel button or device over his official or civilian clothing that he is not authorized to wear, he is in violation of this section of article 134. The armed forces places a great deal of importance on its decorations and this UCMJ article demonstrates how seriously unauthorized wearing and display of such decorations is viewed. The elements to be proven in these trails are as follows:
- That at a specific time and place, the accused was found wearing upon his civilian clothing or his designated uniform the badge of the Combat infantryman, the insignia denoting the grade of master sergeant, lapel button of the Legion of Merit or other decoration or badge.
- That the accused had no authority to wear this badge, decoration, insignia, lapel button or ribbon.
- That this act of the accused wrongful.
- That given the circumstances, the behavior of the accused was against the discipline and good order expected from members of the United States armed forces; or that this behavior was such that it could discredit the United States Armed Forces.
WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM PUNISHMENT FOR THESE VIOLATIONS?
If proven guilty of this charge, the accused faces maximum punishment of forfeiture of all allowances and pay, bad conduct discharge, and 6 months confinement.
HISTORIC CASE PERTAINING TO UNAUTHORIZED WEARING OF RIBBONS:
A very well-known and highly publicized incident that revolved around this offense is that of Admiral Jeremy 'Mike' Boorda. The well liked Admiral Boorda, then Chief of Naval Operations, also the highest ranking Navy officer, was accused of wearing two Vietnam War Combat decorations that he was not authorized to wear.
The incident ended with the tragic death of the Admiral as a direct consequence of this allegation, although there have been theories of conspiracy negating the official report of suicide that was given by the Army officials. This incident again serves to highlight the utmost importance of preserving the sanctity and respecting the value of awards and decoration given to members of the armed forces.