well now i have a question? would foreign awards be recognized on the service record? does any one have records that show this? ok so it was 2 questions.
There should be a set of orders. The orders would say something like "The following individual is awarded the [insert name of foreign award]."
When I was in (1980 - 2005) there were basically two categories of foreign awards.
The first were those that had been "recognized" as eligible to be awarded to soldiers, because so many US soldiers had been awarded them. This includes things like the German marksmanship badge (Schuetzenschnuer), airborne wings from most NATO countries and other recognized US allies (Australia, South Korea, South Vietnam, etc), Ranger or "Commando course" badges for various NATO countries or US allies, and so on.
For those, all it took was a simple memorandum, usually from the Battalion, Group or Brigade S-1 (personnel officer or adjutant) stating that the soldier met the qualifications to be awarded the badge as of such-and-such date. Often these were "group" orders, that is to say, the S-1 would issue one "order" and it would have a list of names and SSN's on it, and all of the personnel listed would be awarded, and all of them would receive a copy of the memo to be put into their 201 file (official military records.) At the time the soldier was discharged, as long as the order for the award was in the official records, it could be put on the DD-214 (discharge certificate) under "awards and decorations" and from that point on, it is a "permanent" award for all practical purposes.
The second, and much smaller category, were those foreign awards that had not been "officially certified" and accepted by the US Army. Often times these were awards from countries that the US military had very little contact with, which is why their awards had not been previously "recognized."
For those awards, there was a two-step process. First, the commander of the unit that wanted to award the badge had to get it "approved", I think by the first 1 star or higher command (in practical terms, that meant Division or higher.) For Special Forces units, that often train with foreign military forces in small countries around the world, this usually meant it couldn't just go to Group level (An SF Group is commanded by a full colonel, O-6), instead it had to go to USASOC (US Army Special Operations Command), which was the 3-star command that was over all Special Forces units. I believe (not 100% sure) that USASOC then had to get the concurrence of the "Big Army" G1, or DCSPER (Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel).
Once THAT was done, then the battalion or group could request that the soldiers be awarded the badge.
The reason I know this is because when my unit (3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group) deployed to Zimbabwe in 1995 for an exercise called Flintlock 95, we all went through the Zimbabwe Airborne course and were "awarded" the Zimbabwe parachutist badge. I worked with the assistant Defense Attaché Officer (DAO) to submit the paperwork to USASOC and DCSPER to get the Zimbabwe parachute badge "recognized' as an authorized award for US Army personnel. The auth took a couple of months to come through, but after it did, we received published orders that awarded us the Zimbabwe Parachute badge.
Since the US no longer has military relations with Zimbabwe (due to their human rights abuses), the Zimbabwe parachutist badge is probably the "rarest" award I have. I would estimate than not more than 300 soldiers in the US Army ever received that award.
Last time I got a DD-214 (when I returned from the Iraqi theater in 2004), the clerk asked me about awards and I said "make sure you put my Zimbabwe parachutist badge on there." He said "ha ha, funny" thinking it was a joke, until I showed him the orders.