United States Coast Guard Commandant John B. Hayes authorized the issuance and wear of the Commandant’s Letter of Commendation (LOC) Ribbon on March 17, 1979 as a way to recognize outstanding or noteworthy achievements that do not rise to the level necessary to warrant the Coast Guard Achievement Level. The ribbon may be awarded not only to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States, but also to foreign military personnel who are serving in any capacity with the Coast Guard.
As part of its 2010 “Everyone is a Recruiter” program designed to improve recruiting results while maintaining high standards for incoming Coast Guard personnel, the Coast Guard awarded the Commandant’s LOC Ribbon to Coast Guard members who referred an applicant who met certain needs (language skills, for instance) and subsequently joined the service and successfully completed initial training (Enlisted Training, Officer Candidate School, etc.).
The following year, the Coast Guard expanded the awarding authority for the Commandant’s LOC Ribbon to include Coast Guard Investigative Services Special Agents in Charge.
The Large Star is authorized for wear on the Commandant’s LOC Ribbon to indicate subsequent instances of the award being issued. Also authorized is the “O” Operational Distinguishing Device, indicating that the LOC was issued for an outstanding achievement or accomplishment that was operational in nature.