Military Abbreviations Found on US Grave Markers

Memorial Day at the Cemetery

Rick Hyman / E+ / Getty Images

Many military graves are inscribed with abbreviations that denote the unit of service, ranks, medals, or other information on the military veteran. Others may also be marked with bronze or stone plaques provided by the U.S. Veterans Administration. This list includes some of the most common military abbreviations that may be seen on headstones and grave markers in American ​cemeteries, both in the United States and overseas.

Military Rank

  • BBG - Brevet Brigadier General
  • BGEN - Brigadier General
  • BMG - Brevet Major General
  • COL - Colonel
  • CPL - Corporal
  • CPT - Captain
  • CSGT - Commissary Sergeant
  • GEN - General
  • LGEN - Lieutenant General
  • LT - Lieutenant
  • 1 LT - First Lieutenant (2 LT = 2nd Lieutenant, and so on)
  • LTC - Lieutenant Colonel
  • MAJ - Major
  • MGEN - Major General
  • NCO - Noncommissioned Officer
  • OSGT - Ordinance Sergeant
  • PVT - Private
  • PVT 1CL - Private First Class
  • QM - Quartermaster
  • QMSGT - Quartermaster Sergeant
  • SGM - Sergeant Major
  • SGT - Sergeant
  • WO - Warrant Officer

Military Unit & Branch of Service

  • ART - Artillery
  • AC or USA - Army Corps; United States Army
  • BRIG - Brigade
  • BTRY - Battery
  • CAV - Cavalry
  • CSA - Confederate States of America
  • CT - Colored Troops; may precede the branch such as CTART for Colored Troops Artillery
  • CO or COM - Company
  • ENG or E&M - Engineer; Engineers / Miners
  • FA - Field Artillery
  • HA or HART - Heavy Artillery
  • INF - Infantry
  • LA or LART - Light Artillery
  • MC - Medical Corps
  • MAR or USMC - Marines; United States Marine Corps
  • MIL - Militia
  • NAVY or USN - Navy; United States Navy
  • REG - Regiment
  • SS - Sharpshooters (or sometimes Silver Star, see below)
  • SC- Signal Corps
  • TR - Troop
  • USAF - United States Air Force
  • VOL or USV - Volunteers; United States Volunteers
  • VRC - Veteran Reserve

Military Service Medals & Awards

  • AAM - Army Achievement Medal
  • ACM - Army Commendation Medal
  • AFAM - Air Force Achievement Medal
  • AFC - Air Force Cross
  • AM - Air Medal
  • AMNM - Airman's Medal
  • ARCOM - Army Commendation Medal
  • BM - Brevet Medal
  • BS or BSM - Bronze Star or Bronze Star Medal
  • CGAM - Coast Guard Achievement Medal
  • CGCM - Coast Guard Commendation Medal
  • CGM - Coast Guard Medal
  • CR - Commendation Ribbon
  • CSC - Conspicuous Service Cross (New York)
  • DDSM - Defense Distinguished Service Medal
  • DFC - Distinguished Flying Cross
  • DMSM - Defense Meritorious Service Medal
  • DSC - Distinguished Service Cross
  • DSM - Distinguished Service Medal
  • DSSM - Defense Superior Service Medal
  • GS - Gold Star (generally appears in conjunction with another award)
  • JSCM - Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • LM or LOM - Legion of Merit
  • MH or MOH - Medal of Honor
  • MMDSM - Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal
  • MMMM - Merchant Marine Mariner's Medal
  • MMMSM - Merchant Marine Meritorious Service Medal
  • MSM - Meritorious Service Medal
  • N&MCM - Navy & Marine Corps Medal
  • NAM - Navy Achievement Medal
  • NC - Navy Cross
  • NCM - Navy Commendation Medal
  • OLC - Oak Leaf Cluster (generally appears in conjunction with another award)
  • PH - Purple Heart
  • POWM - Prisoner of War Medal
  • SM - Soldiers Medal
  • SS or SSM - Silver Star or Silver Star Medal

These abbreviations generally follow another award to indicate superior achievement or multiple awards:

  • A - Achievement
  • V - Valor
  • OLC - Oak Leaf Cluster (generally follows another award to indicate multiple awards)

Military Groups & Veterans Organizations

  • DAR - Daughters of the American Revolution
  • GAR - Grand Army of the Republic
  • SAR - Sons of the American Revolution
  • SCV - Sons of Confederate Veterans
  • SSAWV - Sons of Spanish American War Veterans
  • UDC - United Daughters of the Confederacy
  • USD 1812 - Daughters of the War of 1812
  • USWV - United Spanish War Veterans
  • VFW - Veterans of Foreign Wars