Vietnam Service Medal

Executive Order 11231--Establishing the Vietnam Service Medal

Source: The provisions of Executive Order 11231 of July 8, 1965, appear at 30 FR 8665, 3 CFR, 1964-1965 Comp., p. 325, unless otherwise noted.

By virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States and as Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, it is ordered as follows:

Section 1. There is hereby established the Vietnam Service Medal with suitable appurtenances. Except as limited in section 2 of this order, and under uniform regulations to be prescribed by the Secretaries of the military departments and approved by the Secretary of Defense, or regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of Transportation with respect to the Coast Guard when it is not operating as a service in the Navy, the Vietnam Service Medal shall be awarded to members of the armed forces who serve in Vietnam or contiguous waters or air space, as defined by such regulations, after July 3, 1965, and before a terminal date to be prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.1

[Sec. 1 amended by Executive Order 11382 of Nov. 28, 1967, 32 FR 16247, 3 CFR, 1966-1970 Comp., p. 691]

Sec. 2. Notwithstanding section 3 of the Executive Order No. 10977 of December 4, 1961, establishing the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, any member who qualified for that medal by reason of service in Vietnam between July 1, 1958, and July 4, 1965, shall remain qualified for that medal. Upon application, any such member may be awarded the Vietnam Service Medal in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, but no person may be awarded both medals by reason of service in Vietnam and no person shall be entitled to more than one award of the Vietnam Service Medal.

Sec. 3. The Vietnam Service Medal may be awarded posthumously.

1 Editorial note: On Jan. 26, 1973, a terminal date of Mar. 28, 1973, was prescribed (DOD Instruction 1348.15).


Vietnam Service Medal

  1. Description: On a Bronze medal, 1 inches in diameter, an oriental dragon behind a grove of bamboo trees above the inscription "REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE." On the reverse, a crossbow surmounted a by a torch above the arched inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA".

  2. Ribbon: The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/8 inch Primitive Green 67188; 5/16 inch Air Force Yellow 67103; 1/16 inch Old Glory Red 67156; 5/32 inch Air Force Yellow; center 1/16 inch Old Glory Red; 5/32 inch Air Force Yellow; 1/16 inch Old Glory Red; 5/16 inch Air Force Yellow; and 1/8 inch Primitive Green.

  3. Criteria:

    a. Awarded to all members of the Armed Forces of the United States serving in Vietnam and contiguous waters or airspace thereover, after 3 July 1965 through 28 March 1973. Members of the Armed Forces of the United States in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia, or the airspace thereover, during the same period and serving in direct support of operations in Vietnam are also eligible for this award. To be eligible for award of the medal, individual must- -

    (1) Be attached to or regularly serve for one or more days with an organization participating in or directly supporting military operations; or

    (2) Be attached to or regularly serve for one or more days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations; or

    (3) Actually participate as a crewmember in one or more aerial flights into airspace above Vietnam and contiguous waters directly supporting military operations; or

    (4) Serve on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days in Vietnam or contiguous areas, except that the time limit may be waived for personnel participating in actual combat operations.

    b. Individuals qualified for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam between 1 July 1958 and 3 July 1965 shall remain qualified for the medal. Upon request, the individual may be awarded the Vietnam Service Medal in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. In such instances, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal will be deleted from the list of authorized medals in the individual’s personnel records. No person shall be entitled to both awards for Vietnam Service. 

  4. Components: The following are authorized components and related items:

    a. Medal (regular size): MIL-DTL-3943/230. NSN 8455-00-926-1664 for set which includes a regular size medal and ribbon bar.

    b. Medal (miniature size): MIL-DTL-3943/230. Available commercially.

    c. Ribbon: MIL-DTL-11589/151. NSN 8455-00-926-1530.

    d. Lapel Button (metal replica of ribbon bar): MIL-L-11484/69. Available commercially.

    e. Streamer: MIL-S-14650. Manual requisition in accordance with Chapter 9, Army Regulation (AR) 840-10.

  5. Background: a. On 21 August 1964, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) requested that The Institute of Heraldry provide proposed designs for the possible adoption of a Vietnam Service Medal. Proposed designs were submitted to DCSPER on 29 September 1964. The Vietnam Service Medal was established by Executive Order 11231, dated 8 July 1965. The design approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, 12 July 1965, and the policy for award was promulgated by DOD Directive 1348.15, dated 1 October 1965.

    b. The design, created by Miss Mercedes Lee, includes bamboo trees which are adapted from the flag of the President of Vietnam and the half-concealed dragon represents the subversive nature of the conflict. The crossbow, on the reverse, is the ancient weapon of Vietnam and the torch of the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of the United States devotion to liberty and freedom. The yellow ribbon with three vertical red stripes suggests the color of the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. The green border on each side alludes to the jungle of that Country.

    c. Soldiers receiving the Vietnam Service Medal are authorized to wear a bronze star to indicate each campaign. There are 17 designated campaigns during the period of 15 March 1962 through 28 January 1973. Units which receive campaign credit for any of the campaigns would display a streamer with inscription as shown on the unit's lineage and honors. The designated campaigns are:
  1. Vietnam Advisory Campaign: 15 March 1962 - 7 March 1965
  2. Vietnam Defense Campaign: *4 July 1965 - 24 December 1965
  3. Vietnam Counteroffensive Campaign: 25 December 1965 - 30 June 1966
  4. Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase II: 1 July 1966 - 31 May 1967
  5. Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase III: 1 June 1967 - 29 Jan 1968
  6. Tet Counteroffensive: 30 January 1968 - 1 April 1968
  7. Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase IV: 2 April 1968 - 30 June 1968
  8. Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase V: 1 July 1968 - 1 November 1968
  9. Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VI: 2 November 1968 - 22 February 1969
  10. Tet '69 Counteroffensive: 23 February 1969 - 8 June 1969
  11. Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969: 9 June 1969 - 31 October 1969
  12. Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970: 1 November 1969 - 30 April 1970
  13. Sanctuary Counteroffensive: 1 May 1970 - 30 June 1970
  14. Vietnam Counteroffensive VII: 1 July 1970 - 30 June 1971
  15. Consolidation I: 1 July 1971 - 30 November 1971
  16. Consolidation II: 1 December 1971 - 20 March 1972
  17. Vietnam Cease-Fire Campaign: 30 March 1972 - 28 January 1973

Navy, USMC, and USAF personnel also recognize Operation Frequent Wind (29 Apr - 30 Apr 75) as a separate campaign.

(For a full description of these campaigns, see this PDF document.  Note: this a 2 MB file, so be patient!  When I downloaded it from the Maxwell AFB site, it was over 16 MB) 

It should be pointed out that the Army and Air Force had different definitions of the campaigns until the Department of Defense consolidated the list.  The above represents that consolidated list and the larger document I have linked may have some variances.

05 Jan 2017 03:05 PM