Military decorations of the Cold War

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Between 1947 and 1991, during the years of the Cold War, a large number of military awards and decorations were created by various nations to recognize the undeclared hostilities of the era. Military medals of the Vietnam War and the Korean War are the best known due to the extreme level of the conflicts.

The following is a list of military decorations of the Cold War based on the various time periods and specific nations involved.



Korea Medal.svg Korea Medal
CVSMK ribbon.png Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea
Special Service Medal Ribbon.png Special Service Medal


United States[edit]

Federal Service Medals
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg Korea Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal - Ribbon.svg Korean Service Medal
Medal for Humane Action ribbon.svg Medal for Humane Action
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg Vietnam Service Medal
National Guard
Cold War Victory Medal ribbon.svg Cold War Victory Medal (Alaska & Louisiana only)


Republic of China[edit]

Awards and decorations of China

North Vietnam[edit]

Ho Chi Minh Order
Defeat American Aggression Badge
Vietnam Liberation Order

South Vietnam[edit]

National Order of Vietnam Military Merit Medal Army Distinguished Service Order Navy Distinguished Service Order Air Force Distinguished Service Order
VPD National Order of Vietnam - Knight BAR.png
Vietnam Military Merit Ribbon.svg
Vietnam Navy Distinguished Service Order, First Class ribbon.png
Vietnam Air Force Distinguished Service Order, First Class ribbon.png
Army Meritorious Service Medal Navy Meritorious Service Medal Air Force Meritorious Service Medal Special Service Medal
Vietnam Army Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.png
Vietnam Navy Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.png
Vietnam Air Force Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.png
Vietnam Special Service Medal ribbon.png
Gallantry Cross Air Gallantry Cross Navy Gallantry Cross Life Saving Medal Wound Medal
Gallantry Cross (Vietnam).jpg
Lifes Saving Medal (South Vietnam).png
Vietnam gallantry cross-3d.svg
Vietnam Air Gallantry Cross.jpg
Vietnam Navy Gallantry Cross.jpg
Vietnam Lifesaving Medal ribbon.png
RVN Wound Medal ribbon.png
Armed Forces Honor Medal
(First Class)
Armed Forces Honor Medal
(Second Class)
Staff Service Medal
(First Class)
Staff Service Medal
(Second Class)
Technical Service Medal
(First Class)
Technical Service Medal
(Second Class)
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal Ribbon.png
VAFHM Class 2.png
Vietnam Staff Service Medal Ribbon.png
VSSM Class 2.png
Vietnam Technical Service Medal, 1st class ribbon.png
Vietnam Technical Service Medal, 2nd class ribbon.png
Training Service Medal
(First Class)
Training Service Medal
(Second Class)
Civil Actions Medal
(First Class)
Civil Actions Medal
(Second Class)
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Civil Action Medal.jpg
Vietnam Campaign Medal with 1960- clasp.png
VTSM Class 1.png
VTSM Class 2.png
Civil Actions Medal(Individual Award).png
Vietnam Civil Actions Medal Second Class.png
Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon with 60- clasp.svg
Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
Presidential Unit Citation (Vietnam).svg
Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg

North Korea[edit]

Awards and decorations of North Korea

Republic of Korea (South Korea)[edit]

Presidential Unit Citation (Korea).svg South Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Korean War Service Medal ribbon.svg Korean War Service Medal
Order of National Security Merit
Tong-il Security Medel Ribbon.png Tong-il Medal
Gugseon Security Medal Ribbon.png Gugseon Medal
Cheon-Su Security Medal Ribbon.png Cheon-Su Medal
Sam IL Security Medal Ribbon.png Sam-il Medal
Gwangbog Security Medal Ribbon.png Gwangbog Medal
Order of Military Merit
Taeguk Cordon Medal.png Taeguk Cordon Medal
Eulji Cordon Medal.png Eulji Cordon Medal
Chungmu Cordon Medal.png Chungmu Cordon Medal
Hwarang Cordon Medal.png Hwarang Cordon Medal
Inheon Cordon Medal.png Inheon Cordon Medal


East Germany[edit]

Orders, decorations, and medals of East Germany

West Germany[edit]

Order of Merit
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 9 Sond des Grosskreuzes.svg Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes (Grand Cross special class)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 8 Grosskreuz bes Ausf.svg Großkreuz (Grand Cross 1st class, special design)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 7 Grosskreuz.svg Großkreuz (Grand Cross 1st class)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 6 GrVK Stern Band.svg Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband (Grand Cross with Star and Sash)
International equivalent: Großkreuz 2. Klasse (Grand Cross of Merit, Second class) or Großkomturkreuz (Grand Commander's Cross)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 5 GrVK Stern.svg Großes Verdienstkreuz mit Stern (Knight Commander's Cross or Grand Cross with Star)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 4 GrVK.svg Großes Verdienstkreuz (Halskreuz) (Commander's Cross or Grand Cross (Neck cross))
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 3 BVK 1Kl.svg Verdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (Officer's Cross)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 2 BVK.svg Verdienstkreuz am Bande (Cross) International equivalent: Ritterkreuz (Knight's Cross)
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 1 BVM.svg Verdienstmedaille (Medal)

The President of the Federal Republic holds the Sonderstufe des Großkreuzes ex officio. It is awarded to him in a ceremony by the President of the Bundestag attended by the Chancellor, the President of the Bundesrat and the Supreme Court President. Other than the President of the Federal Republic, only a foreign head of state can be awarded with the highest class. There is also the provision of awarding the Großkreuz in a special rare design, in which the central medallion with the black eagle is surrounded by a stylized laurel wreath in relief. which has so far only been used twice: for Konrad Adenauer and for Helmut Kohl.

Soviet Union[edit]

Orders, decorations, and medals of the Soviet Union

International Organizations[edit]

Inter-American Defense Board[edit]

Inter-american defense board medal ribbon.svg Inter-American Defense Board Medal

International Commission of Control and Supervision[edit]

ICSC Ribbon.png International Commission for Supervision and Control Medal; Indo-China, (1954–1974)
International Commission of Control and Supervision Vietnam medal ribbon.png International Commission of Control and Supervision Service Medal, Vietnam (1973)

United Nations[edit]

United Nations Korea Medal ribbon.svg United Nations Service Medal
United Nations Medal.svg United Nations Medal