Vietnam Service Medal

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Not to be confused with the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Vietnam Service Medal
Observe view of Vietnam Service Medal
Awarded by U.S. Armed Forces
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility Members of the U.S. Armed Forces
Awarded for Service in geographical theater areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia from 4 July 1965 through 28 March 1973, and 29-30 April 1975 for evacuation of Saigon (USN, USMC, and USAF). From 1 July 1958 through 3 July 1965, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was issued for initial operations in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and may be exchanged for the VSM.
Campaign(s) Vietnam War
Status Inactive
Statistics
Established by Executive Order 11231 of 8 July 1965 (as amended by E.O. 11382 of 28 November 1967 and E.O. 13286 of 2 February 2003.)
First awarded 4 July 1965 (retroactive to 1 July 1958)
Last awarded 30 April 1975
Precedence
Next (higher) Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Next (lower) Southwest Asia Service Medal
Related Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal

Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg

Vietnam Service Streamer vector.svg

Vietnam Service Ribbon and streamer

The Vietnam Service Medal is a military award of the United States Armed Forces established on 8 July 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The medal is awarded to recognize service during the Vietnam War and is authorized to all servicemembers of the United States Armed Forces provided they meet the award requirements for Vietnam War service.

The distinctive design has been attributed to both sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, a former employee of the Army Institute of Heraldry[1] and Mercedes Lee who created the design.[2]

Award criteria[edit]

The Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) was awarded to all servicemembers of the United States Armed Forces serving in Vietnam and its contiguous waters or airspace thereover, after 3 July 1965 through 28 March 1973. Servicemembers of the United States Armed Forces in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, or airspace there over, during the same period and serving in direct support of operations in Vietnam are also eligible for the award.[3]

Requirements

Individuals must meet one of the following requirements:[4][5][2][6][7][8]

  • Be attached to or regularly serve for 1 or more days with an organization participating in or directly supporting military operations.
  • Be attached to or regularly serve for 1 or more days aboard a U.S. naval vessel directly supporting military operations.
  • Actually participating as a crewmember in one or more aerial flights into airspace above Vietnam and contiguous waters directly supporting military operations.
  • Serve on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days in Vietnam or contiguous waters, except that time limit may be waived for personnel participating in actual combat operations.
  • No person will be entitled to more than one award of the VSM.
  • Individuals qualified for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) for reason of service in Vietnam between 1 July 1958 and 3 July 1965 (inclusive) will remain qualified for that medal. Upon request (unit personnel officer) any such individual may be awarded the VSM instead of the AFEM. In such instances, the AFEM will be deleleted from the list of of authorized medals in personnel records. No person will be entitled to both awards for Vietnam service.
  • Servicemembers who earned the AFEM for Operation FREQUENT WIND between 29 and 30 April 1975, may elect to receive the VSM instead of the AFEM. No servicemember may be issued both medals for service in Vietnam.
  • Vietnam and contigous waters, as used herein, is defined as an area which includes Vietnam and the water adjacent thereto with the following specified limits: from a point on the East Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with China southeastward to 21 degrees north latitude, 108 degrees, 15 minutes longitude; then southward to 18 degrees, north latitude, 108 degrees, 15 minutes east longitude; then southward to 17 degrees, 30 minutes north longitude, 111 degrees east longitude; then southward to 11 degrees north latitude, 111 degrees east latitude; then southward to 7 degrees north latitude, 105 degrees east latitude; then westward to 7 degrees north latitude, 103 degrees east latitude; then northward to 9 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude, 103 degrees east latitude; then northeastward to 10 degrees, 15 minutes north latitude, 104 degrees, 27 minutes east latitude; then northward to a point on the West Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • The VSM may be awarded posthumously.
  • One 316 inch bronze service star is authorized for each campaign under the following conditions:
  • 1. Assigned or attached to and present for duty with a unit during the period in which it participated in combat.
  • 2. Under orders in a combat zone and in addition meets any of the following requirements:
  • a. Awarded a combat decoration.
  • b. Furnished a certificate by a Commanding General of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that soldier actually participated in combat.
  • c. Served at a normal post of duty (as contrasted to occupying the status of an inspector, observer, or visitor).
  • d. Aboard a vessel other than in a passenger status and furnished a certificate by the home port commander of the vessel that he or she served in the combat zone.
  • e. Was an evadee or escapee in the combat zone or recovered from a POW status in the combat zone during the time limitations of the campaign. POWs will not be accorded credit for the time spent in confinement or while otherwise in restraint under enemy control.

The Vietnam Service Medal is retroactive to 1 July 1958 and supersedes and replaces the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (AFEM) which was issued for initial operations in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from that date through 3 July 1965. Defense Department regulations do not permit the simultaneous presentation of both the Vietnam Service Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, for the same period of service in Vietnam, however the AFEM may be exchanged for the VSM upon request from a service member. Veterans of the Vietnam War may exchange the AFEM for the VSM and have military records updated to reflect the difference by contacting the National Personnel Records Center, which is the current agency that provides record corrections reflecting an AFEM conversion to the Vietnam Service Medal.[1]

The Republic of Vietnam also issued its own service medal for the Vietnam War, known as the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. This is a separate military award which was accepted by the U.S. Congress and the U.S. military in accordance with DoD 1348 C7. Six months of service in support of Republic of Vietnam military operations was the general U.S. requirement for the award.[9]

Medal and ribbon appearance[edit]

The Vietnam Service Medal (with a green, yellow, and red suspension ribbon) is a rounded bronze shaped medal, 1 14 inches in diameter. The obverse side consists of a figure of an oriental dragon (representing the subversive nature of the conflict) behind a grove of bamboo trees, are above the inscription "REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE". On the reverse, a crossbow (representing the ancient weapon of Vietnam) facing upwards with a ready to be fired lighted torch of the Statue of Liberty, above an arched inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA".[2]

The Vietnam Service Ribbon is 1 38 inches wide and consists of the following vertical stripes: three narrow (116 inch) strips of red with wider (532 inch) stripes of yellow in the center, flanked by even wider (516 inch) stripes of yellow on each side and narrow 18-inch stripes of primitive green on the ends. The yellow (yellow is traditionally the imperial color of Vietnam) with red stripes (the red represents the three ancient Vietnamese empires of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China) resembles the former flag of the Republic of Vietnam. The green border on each side alludes to the jungle of that country.[2]

Ribbon devices

The Vietnam Service Medal is authorized three devices for wear on the suspension and service ribbon of the medal:[10][11]

  • Service star (campaign star): for participation in or support of operations in the seventeen designated campaigns of the Vietnam Conflict, a 316 inch bronze service star is authorized for wear on the Vietnam Service Medal suspension and service ribbon for each of the campaigns from 15 March 1962 to 28 January 1973; a 316 inch bronze star is also authorized for Operation Frequent Wind, 29-30 April 1975, for Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force personnel. A 316 inch silver star is authorized in lieu of five bronze stars.
  • Arrowhead device: assigned or attached member of a U.S. Army unit with direct combat assault credit for a parachute jump, helicopter assault landing, combat glider landing, or amphibious assault landing.
  • FMF combat operation insignia: for Naval personnel assigned to the Marine Corps during Marine Corps combat operations.

Vietnam War campaigns[edit]

The U.S. Department of Defense established thirty military campaigns during the Vietnam War which covered all U.S. service branches. In 2010, the Department of Defense consolidated the original list of campaigns from the original thirty to a list of eighteen by combining the U.S. Air Force campaign list with the other armed services. The U.S. Army, and U.S. Coast Guard recognize seventeen 316" bronze service stars (also known as campaign stars; 3 silver stars and 2 bronze stars) on the Vietnam Service campaign streamer.[12][13] Additionally, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force recognize Operation Frequent Wind (29–30 April 1975).[14][15]

U.S. Department of Defense consolidated campaign periods[edit]

DoD Consolidated Campaign Periods for All Services
Name of Campaign Start Date End Date
Vietnam Advisory Campaign[a] 15 March 1962 7 March 1965
Vietnam Defense Campaign[a] 8 March 1965 24 December 1965
Vietnam Counteroffensive.[a] 25 December 1965 30 June 1966
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase II[a] 1 July 1966 31 May 1967
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase III[a] 1 June 1967 29 January 1968
Tet Counteroffensive[a] 30 January 1968 1 April 1968
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase IV[a] 2 April 1968 30 June 1968
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase V[a] 1 July 1968 1 November 1968
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VI[a] 2 November 1968 22 February 1969
Tet 69 Counteroffensive[b][a] 23 February 1969 8 June 1969
Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969[b][a] 9 June 1969 31 October 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970[b][a] 1 November 1969 30 April 1970
Sanctuary Counteroffensive[b][a] 1 May 1970 30 June 1970
Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VII[a] 1 July 1970 30 June 1971
Consolidation I[a] 1 July 1971 30 November 1971
Consolidation II[a] 1 December 1971 29 March 1972
Vietnam Cease-fire[a] 30 March 1972 28 January 1973
Operation Frequent Wind[b][a] (USN USMC USAF only) 29 April 1975 30 April 1975

U.S. Air Force original campaign periods[edit]

Original USAF Campaign Periods Before DoD Consolidation
Name of campaign Start Date End Date
Vietnam Initial Advisory Campaign[b] 15 November 1961 1 March 1965
Vietnam Air Defensive Campaign[b] 2 March 1965 30 January 1966
Vietnam Air Counteroffensive[b] 31 January 1966 28 June 1966
Vietnam Air Offensive[b] 29 June 1966 8 March 1967
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase II[b] 9 March 1967 31 March 1967
Vietnam Air/Ground Campaign[b] 22 January 1968 7 July 1968
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase III[b] 1 Apr 1968 31 October 1968
Vietnam Air Offensive Phase IV[b] 1 November 1968 22 February 1969
Tet 69 Counteroffensive[b][a] 23 February 1969 8 June 1969
Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969[b][a] 9 June 1969 31 October 1969
Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970[b][a] 1 November 1969 30 April 1970
Sanctuary Counteroffensive[b][a] 1 May 1970 30 June 1970
Southwest Monsoon[b] 1 July 1970 30 November 1970
Commando Hunt V[b] 1 December 1970 14 May 1971
Commando Hunt VI[b] 15 May 1971 31 October 1971
Commando Hunt VII[b] 1 November 1971 29 March 1972
Vietnam Cease-fire[a] 30 March 1972 28 January 1973
Operation Frequent Wind[b][a] 29 April 1975 30 April 1975

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Campaign period authorized by Department of Defense Manual 1348.33 Volume 2, dated 23 November 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Campaign period originally authorized by the Department of the Air Force but now consolidated with the Department of Defense list

References[edit]

External links[edit]