Awards and decorations of the Vietnam War
Awards and decorations of the Vietnam War were military decorations which were bestowed by the major warring parties during the years of the Vietnam War. North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the United States all issued awards and decorations during the conflict.
In year 2015 some active duty military members (with at least 40+ years service) can be seen wearing Vietnam War awards, which were earned at the beginning of their military careers (the Vietnam War officially ended in April 1975).
South Vietnam as a country ceased to exist after North Vietnam's victory in the Vietnam War. Therefore, the country of South Vietnam's awards and decorations are considered obsolete. With the fall of South Vietnam, that country's official records of who received which awards disappeared. Records or evidence of awards were sometimes maintained by U.S. military units or in an award recipient's service record, so those may be available to an award recipient looking for confirmation of a (defunct) foreign country award received.
Despite being obsolete earned foreign South Vietnam decorations and awards remain authorized for U.S. military members who received such. If an award recipient no longer possesses an original award, companies or individuals have available for purchase South Vietnam's military insignia and awards.
A listing of the most commonly bestowed Vietnam war era decorations is as follows:
Senior Leadership Decorations
- Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation
- Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
- Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
- Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal
- Vietnam Staff Service Medal
- Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross
- Vietnam Navy Gallantry Cross
- Vietnam Special Service Medal
|Medal of Honor|
|Distinguished Service Cross
(Navy Cross, Airforce Cross)
|Silver Star||Legion of Merit||Distinguished
|Bronze Star Medal||Purple Heart||Air Medal||Vietnam Service Medal||Armed Forces
Several decorations (Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Commendation Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal) may be awarded for Valor, or for Merit. Awards for Valor recognize bravery in action against an enemy and have an attached "V" device Valor device. Awards for Merit recognize service.
The Commendation Medal was another decoration of the Vietnam War, issued frequently in various versions by the different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Australia and New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand jointly developed and instituted The Vietnam Medal (though separate Royal Warrants were issued). The obverse of the medal displays an Effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, the reverse shows a man standing between two spheres, a symbolic representation of the ideological struggle. The ribbon incorporates the colours of the three armed services (Red, Navy Blue, and Sky Blue), and the national colours of Vietnam (Red and Yellow).
In 1992, Australia struck the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal. The medal was intended to recognise the Australian servicemen and civilians who provided support for Australian troops. The qualifying criteria for the Medal are service of one day or more as a member or crew of a ship or aircraft operating in the prescribed area of operations of Vietnam in support of Australian forces, or service of one day or more within the prescribed area of operations of Vietnam while attached to a unit or organisation in support of Australian forces.
It has been awarded to military personnel, Qantas crews, civilian medical personnel, and Embassy staff.
Australian servicemen were also awarded a large number of individual US and South Vietnamese awards, and the following unit citations:
- HMAS Hobart - US Navy Unit Commendation
- HMAS Perth - US Navy Unit Commendation, US Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
- Clearance Diving Team 3 - US Presidential Unit Citation, Two US Navy Unit Commendations and one US Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 817 Naval Air Squadron - US Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
- AATTV - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, US Meritorious Unit Commendation, US Presidential Unit Citation
- 1 RAR - US Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 'D' Coy, 6 RAR - US Presidential Unit Citation
- 8 RAR - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
- No. 2 Squadron RAAF - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation, USAF Outstanding Unit Award