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In the image below are Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy in their dress uniforms. What do the badges on their uniforms represent, both in general and individually?

Kirk and McCoy in dress uniforms

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  • 1
    "Kirk's historically rapid rise to a captaincy and command of a loyal and respectful 430-member crew are reflected in the awards and commendations he had garnered by 2267, including the Palm Leaf of the Axanar Peace Mission, the Grankite Order of Tactics, a Class of Excellence award, the Prantares Ribbon of Commendation, First and Second Class, the Medal of Honor, a Silver Palm with Cluster, the Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, the Karagite Order of Heroism and several Awards of Valor" - startrek.com/database_article/james-t-kirk#sthash.bcjJ133R.dpuf
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:04
  • @Richard Why ya gotta answer in comments? :)
    – Lexible
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 2:36
  • @lexible - because it largely replicates something that's already been written as an answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 7:02

2 Answers 2

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Awards

Here is a close-up of Kirk's cluster of patches:

enter image description here

In the episode "Court Martial" (which is the source of the screen grab in the original question), Kirk's awards to date were listed during his trial by the ship's computer:

COMPUTER: James T. Kirk, serial number SC937-0176CEC. Service rank, Captain. Position, Starship command. Current assignment, USS Enterprise. Commendations, Palm Leaf Of Axanar Peace Mission, Grankite Order of Tactics, Class of Excellence, Prantares Ribbon of Commendation, Classes first and second...

COMPUTER: Awards of Valour, Medal of Honour, Silver Palm with Cluster, Starfleet citation for Conspicuous Gallantry, Karagite Order of Heroism...

Given the number of coloured patches and their placement over the left breast, I believe they represent Kirk's awards. Note that "Awards of Valour", as given by the computer, is plural. Assuming there were two of them would make for 12 awards and 12 corresponding patches (including the ribbon).

The same would be true for McCoy's. According to the official StarTrek.com entry on McCoy:

By that first year [on the Enterprise] he had already won the commendations of the Legion of Honor, Awards of Valor, and was decorated by Starfleet Surgeons.

Again, there is a pluralization on "Awards of Valour". Based on the number of patches on McCoy's garment, it seems that by his first year on the Enterprise, he had earned one Legion of Honor, one Starfleet Surgeons decoration, and two Awards of Valor — 4 patches in total.

UPDATE:

A user at the Star Trek Uniform Club Forum has, in this thread, painstakingly matched each patch to its award, by comparing various dress uniforms appearing in TOS (such as Commodore Mendez in "The Menagerie") and by consulting folks in charge of Star Trek prop auctions. The user came up with this mostly complete dictionary (click to enlarge):

enter image description here

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  • McCoy holds the Legion of Honor, Starfleet Award of Valor and Starfleet Surgeons Decoration according to Memory Alpha
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:08
  • @Richard : Thanks. Cross-checked them at StarTrek.com.
    – Praxis
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:09
  • No idea what the 4th one is though. There's a line in one of the books where the crew gripe about their medals, basically saying "we keep saving the galaxy and our reward is that it takes us twice as long to get dressed because of putting on all our medals"
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:11
  • @Richard : The StarTrek.com version says "awards of valor", implying there is more than one of those --- that would explain the 4th on McCoy.
    – Praxis
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:15
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    @HorusKol - We name them separate. I could see a future where they would be "Award for Valor - Bronze", "Award for Valor - Silver", etc. Esp since services were amalgamated into one.
    – JohnP
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 22:23
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These are the equivalent of the "salad bar" that contemporary servicemen wear on their uniforms. Each badge on Kirk's and McCoy's uniforms signify an award.

According to the Memory Alpha wiki, Kirk is wearing:

  • Grankite Order of Tactics (Class of Excellence?)
  • (Class of Excellence)
  • Karagite Order of Heroism
  • Palm Leaf of Axanar Peace Mission
  • Prentares Ribbon of Commendation
    • First class
    • Second class
  • Starfleet Award of Valor
  • Starfleet Citation for Conspicuous Gallantry
  • Starfleet Medal of Honor
  • Starfleet Silver Palm with Cluster

NB - from the script, it's a bit ambiguous whether the "Class of Excellence" is a separate award or a specific class of another award:

...Grankite Order of Tactics, Class of Excellence, Prantares Ribbon of Commendation, Classes first and second...

McCoy is wearing:

  • Legion of Honour
  • Starfleet Award of Valor
  • Starfleet Surgeons Decoration

Note, each officer seems to be wearing more badges than there are awards listed. This is probably because not all of them were mentioned in the episode.

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