Order of military flags

Military flags hold a special place in American's hearts. They are a symbol of sacrifice, valor, and national pride. Knowing the proper order of military flags is crucial for any flag display, whether you're a military veteran, family member, or patriotic citizen. In this article, you will learn the correct order of military flags so you can honor the brave service men and women who dedicate their lives to preserving our country's freedom. 

How to Determine Order of Military Flags  

On October 31, 1977, the U.S. Department of Defense released Directive 1005.8, which states the correct order of military flags when on display. The rules in this directive apply to any time the flags from all of the military branches are carried horizontally during a parade or flown atop a flagpole. The order of precedence is determined by the branches' "birthday" with a few exceptions. Continue reading to learn how to properly order the military flags in your display! 

The Order of the Military Flags 

Let's take a closer look at the order of military flags, as outlined in the Department of Defense Directive 1005.8. 

United States Flag United States Flag

1.   The United States 

The American flag holds a position of utmost importance in flag displays. It represents the U.S. Government, which is the highest authority in the nation. According to the U.S. Flag Code, no other flag should fly above the American flag. If you are looking to round off your flag display with the ultimate symbol of our country, shop our large selection of American flags. We have styles suitable for indoor and outdoor use, so you can get the flag for any setting. Shop our collection of quality made-in-the-USA flags today!  

U.S. Colorado State Flag U.S. Colorado State Flag

2.   Your State Flag 

All state flags should fly to the audience's right of the U.S. flag. This order represents its authoritative status right below the U.S. government. At Americanflags.com, we have many beautiful flag varieties for all 55 U.S. states and territories. 


3.   The POW/MIA Flag 

In the line of procession, the POW/MIA flag flies third, beside the state flag and in front of the Army flag. This ensign honors the brave service people who gave everything defending America's freedom. Shop our full line of POW/MIA flags today! 

U.S. Army Flag U.S. Army Flag

4.   The Army - June 14, 1775 

The United States Army was the first branch of the military, founded by the Second Continental Congress in 1775. Its original job was to protect citizens in the thirteen colonies from the British, and it has continued to be a beacon of enduring strength and freedom. The Army flag flies after the POW/MIA flag in the line of precedence. Show your Army pride with a stunning indoor or outdoor U.S. Army flag

U.S. Marine Corps Flag U.S. Marine Corps Flag

5.   The Marine Corps - November 10, 1775 

The Marine Corps is the second oldest branch of the armed forces, founded by the Continental Congress in 1775 as a specialized force to serve as landing forces within the country's fleet. In 1834, they became a part of the U.S. Navy to aid in their operations. While operating under the Department of the Navy, the Marines perform land-based and amphibious duties, executing over 300 foreign shore landings since 1775. Shop our wide selection of U.S. Marine Corps flags

U.S. Navy Flag U.S. Navy Flag

6.   The Navy - October 13, 1775 

The Navy was formed in 1775 under the command of Esek Hopkins with 60 ships, an impressive feat for the Revolutionary era. The branch was designed to eliminate British warships in their home waters. Their success led to the surrender of British forces in multiple cities, including Savannah, Charleston, and Wilmington. Currently, the Navy is the second largest branch, with around 336,978 active-duty military personnel. Check out our selection of U.S. Navy flags

U.S. Air Force Flag U.S. Air Force Flag

7.   The Air Force - September 18, 1947 

For over 150 years, the U.S. had only three branches of the military until the DoD established the Air Force in 1947. Originally an offshoot of the Army Signal Corps, it was adopted as a separate branch by the National Security Act of 1947. The Air Force is responsible for transporting the president, rapid global mobility, intelligence, air superiority, reconnaissance, surveillance, command, and control. Shop our full line of beautiful Air Force flags

8.   The Space Force - December 20, 2019 

The U.S. Space Force is the newest addition to the branches of military service. It is responsible for managing space launches and protecting the U.S. and its allies in space. Discover the newest military flag, the Space Force flag

U.S. Coast Guard Flag U.S. Coast Guard Flag

9.   The Coast Guard – August 4, 1790 

The Coast Guard flag is typically displayed last in the military flag flying order even though it is older than the U.S. Air Force and its respective offshoot, the Space Force. This is because the Coast Guard falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security during peacetime. During wartime, this changes, and the Coast Guard operates the Department of Defense. During war, the Coast Guard flag flies between the Navy and the Air Force, matching the date of origin or birthday rule. Shop our unique collection of Coast Guard flags today! 

Frequently Asked Questions - Military Flag Flying Order

Why does the Marine Corps flag fly before the Navy's? 

The order of precedence dictates that the flags fly according to their date of origin. While technically the Navy was established before the Marine Corps, forming in October 13, 1775, they have not been consistently operating since then, having disbanded at the end of the Revolutionary War before reforming in 1794. The murkiness around Navy’s exact founding is why the Marine Corps flies before the Navy.  

Where does the National Guard fly on the flag flying order? 

All National Guard and reserve flags fly after the Coast Guard, as outlined in the DOD directive 1005.8. The official order is as follows: 

  1. The Army National Guard
  2. Army Reserves
  3. Marine Corps Reserves
  4. Navel Reserve
  5. Air National Guard
  6. Air Force Reserve
  7. Coast Guard Reserve
  8. Other training organizations of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, in that order. 

Can civilians fly military flags in their homes? 

Yes, citizens can fly military flags in their homes to show their support. Just note that some military flag designs, like one version of the Space Force, are only meant for government use and can only be purchased by .gov websites. 

Shop Our Military Flag Collection Today! 

At AmericanFlags.com, our military flags are made from the highest quality materials to withstand harsh weather conditions. They are the same products used by military installations and crafted to last the test of time. All of our flags are made in America by expert flag makers. We sell a large selection of indoor and outdoor military flags from all service branches, including indoor mounted flag sets, stick flags, and mini flags. We proudly offer all veterans and active-duty military personnel a 15% discount using code MILITARYSERVICE as our way of honoring the brave men and women who keep our country safe! For more information, please contact our friendly Customer Care Team