Providing Aids to Navigation, or ATON, is one of the oldest of the Coast Guard’s eleven missions. Two of the most important resources in its ATON toolbox, Light Stations and LORAN Stations, are not only frequently located in isolated areas, but also require 24/7 staffing. To recognize the hardship of duty assignments in these lonely areas where dependents are not allowed, the Commandant of the Coast Guard established the Restricted Duty Ribbon on March 3, 1984.

To be eligible for the Restricted Duty Ribbon, Coast Guard personnel must complete a tour of duty as part of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) at one of over 100 shore units. Currently, these are either LORAN (LOng RAnge Navigation) stations or Light Stations, but in the past they have included maintenance and aircraft facilities. Service at units that have been established in support of contingency operations does not count toward eligibility, and units where service could count toward campaign or expeditionary medals are also excluded. The assignment must be the result of a PCS, so various types of temporary, training, or special assignment to a restricted duty does not count. Lastly, the ribbon is not awarded to personnel assigned to a unit where they have the option to have dependents accompany them.

The awarding authorities for the ribbon are the units’ commanding officers or officers in charge, and they may authorize and issue the award to eligible personnel at the end of a PCS tour of duty. Subsequent qualifying tours of duty at restricted duty units are represented by bronze stars, with a silver star worn in lieu of five bronze stars.

A complete list of Restricted Duty units, including those no longer in service, can be found in Enclosure 18 accompanying COMDTINST M1650.25 E, Coast Guard Military Medals and Awards Manual.

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