Vietnam Service Medal
Overview
 
The Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) is a military award
Awards and decorations of the United States military
Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

 which was created in 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The distinctive design was the creation of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones
Thomas Hudson Jones
Thomas Hudson Jones was a U.S. sculptor for the Army's Institute of Heraldry.His father was an engraver and encouraged him from childhood to be a sculptor. He attended the Albright Art School in Buffalo, NY. At 19 he won the Prix de Rome Fellowship for 3 years of study at the American Academy of...

, a former employee of the Army Institute of Heraldry. The medal is issued to recognize military service during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and is authorized to service members in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, provided they meet the qualification criteria in United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 regulation DoD 1348.

The Vietnam Service Medal is presented to any service member who served on temporary duty for more than 30 consecutive days, or 60 non-consecutive days, attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days with an organization participating in or directly supporting ground (military) operations or attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos within the defined combat zone (DoD 1348 C6.6.1.1.5.
Encyclopedia
The Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) is a military award
Awards and decorations of the United States military
Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

 which was created in 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The distinctive design was the creation of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones
Thomas Hudson Jones
Thomas Hudson Jones was a U.S. sculptor for the Army's Institute of Heraldry.His father was an engraver and encouraged him from childhood to be a sculptor. He attended the Albright Art School in Buffalo, NY. At 19 he won the Prix de Rome Fellowship for 3 years of study at the American Academy of...

, a former employee of the Army Institute of Heraldry. The medal is issued to recognize military service during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 and is authorized to service members in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, provided they meet the qualification criteria in United States Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 regulation DoD 1348.

The Vietnam Service Medal is presented to any service member who served on temporary duty for more than 30 consecutive days, or 60 non-consecutive days, attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days with an organization participating in or directly supporting ground (military) operations or attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos within the defined combat zone (DoD 1348 C6.6.1.1.5. revised September 1996) between the dates of 15 November 1961 to 28 March 1973, and from 29 April 1975 to 30 April 1975.

For those service members who supported Vietnam Operations from another country within Southeast Asia, DoD maintains (proximity to threat) as the disqualifying factor for Vietnam Service Medal eligibility.

For the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, vessels operating in Vietnamese waters qualify for the Vietnam Service Medal provided that the naval vessel was engaged in direct support of Vietnam combat operations. The U.S. Air Force also grants the Vietnam Service Medal exclusively to flight crews that flew missions over Vietnamese air space, even if the home base of the flight mission was hundreds of miles away requiring in flight refueling.

The Department of Defense established thirty military campaigns during the Vietnam War. For those service members participating in one or more campaigns, a service star
Service star
A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a United States military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award. Service stars are typically issued for campaign medals, service...

 is authorized on the Vietnam Service Medal. Silver service stars are issued in lieu of five bronze. Some campaigns apply to all of the military services while others are specific to a particular branch of the U.S. Armed Forces (the United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 is considered part of the Navy and is eligible only for Navy campaigns). The exception to this rule is Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind was the evacuation by helicopter of American civilians and 'at-risk' Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam, on 29–30 April 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War...

. The arrowhead device
Arrowhead device
The Arrowhead device is a decoration of the United States Army which is issued as an attachment to certain service medals. The Arrowhead device is awarded to any service member who participates in an amphibious assault, a combat parachute drop, a helicopter assault landing, or a combat glider...

 is authorized for campaign participation which involved an aerial or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain sailors. The United States Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard recognize 17 campaign stars (3 silver and 2 bronze service stars) on the Vietnam Service campaign streamer
Campaign streamer
Campaign streamers are decorations attached to military flags to recognize particular achievements or events of a military unit or service. Attached to the headpiece of the assigned flag, the streamer often is an inscribed ribbon with the name and date denoting participation in a particular battle,...

. The United States Navy and the United States Air Force recognize one more.

The Vietnam Service Medal is retroactive to 1961 and supersedes and replaces the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal is a military award of the United States military, which was first created in 1961 by Executive Order of President John Kennedy...

 (AFEM) which was issued for Vietnam service prior to 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
National Personnel Records Center
The National Personnel Records Center is an agency of the National Archives and Records Administration, created in 1956. It is divided into two large Federal Records Centers located in St...

, which is the current agency that provides record corrections reflecting an AFEM upgrade to the Vietnam Service Medal.

The Republic of Vietnam also issued its own version of the VSM, known as the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
The Vietnam Campaign Medal is a military recognition awarded by the Republic of Vietnam, , to any member of the United States, Australian, New Zealand and allied military forces serving six months or more in support of Republic of Vietnam military operations.Established in 1966, the decoration is...

. This is a separate award from the Vietnam Service Medal and is a foreign decoration which was accepted by Congress and U.S. military in accordance with DoD 1348 C7. Six months of service in support of military operations in the Republic of Vietnam was the normal requirement for the award.

{| class="toccolours" width=90% style="clear:both; margin:1.5em auto; text-align:center;"
|-
! colspan=7 style="background:#A9A9A9" | Vietnam service campaign dates
|- valign="top"
{| class="wikitable"
|-bgcolor="#c5d2ea" align="center"
| Name of campaign
| Start date
| End date
| Army
| USN/
USMC
| USAF
| USCG
|-align="left"
| Vietnam Initial Advisory Campaign
| 15 November 1961
| 1 March 1965
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align="left"
| Vietnam Advisory Campaign
| 15 March 1962
| 7 March 1965
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air Defensive Campaign
| 2 March 1965
| 30 January 1966
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Defense Campaign
| 8 March 1965
| 24 December 1965
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive
| 25 December 1965
| 30 June 1966
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
|Vietnam Air Counteroffensive
| 31 January 1966
| 28 June 1966
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air Offensive
| 29 June 1966
| 8 March 1967
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase II
| 1 July 1966
| 31 May 1967
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air Offensive

Phase II
| 9 March 1967
| 31 March 1967
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase III
| 1 June 1967
| 29 January 1968
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air/Ground Campaign
| 22 January 1968
| 7 July 1968
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Tet Counteroffensive
| 30 January 1968
| 1 April 1968
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air Offensive

Phase III
| 1 Apr 1968
| 31 October 1968
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase IV
| 2 April 1968
| 30 June 1968
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase V
| 1 July 1968
| 1 November 1968
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Air Offensive

Phase IV
| 1 November 1968
| 22 February 1969
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase VI
| 2 November 1968
| 22 February 1969
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Tet 69 Counteroffensive
| 23 February 1969
| 8 June 1969
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969
| 9 June 1969
| 31 October 1969
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970
| 1 November 1969
| 30 April 1970
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Sanctuary Counteroffensive
| 1 May 1970
| 30 June 1970
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Counteroffensive

Phase VII
| 1 July 1970
| 30 June 1971
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Southwest Monsoon
| 1 July 1970
| 30 November 1970
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Commando Hunt V
| 1 December 1970
| 14 May 1971
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Commando Hunt VI
| 15 May 1971
| 31 October 1971
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Consolidation I
| 1 July 1971
| 30 November 1971
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Commando Hunt VII
| 1 November 1971
| 29 March 1972
|
|
| XXXXX
|
|-align=left
| Consolidation II
| 1 December 1971
| 29 March 1972
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Vietnam Cease-fire
| 30 March 1972
| 28 January 1973
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|-align=left
| Operation Frequent Wind
| 29 April 1975
| 30 April 1975
|
| XXXXX
| XXXXX
|
|}

See also

  • Arrowhead device
    Arrowhead device
    The Arrowhead device is a decoration of the United States Army which is issued as an attachment to certain service medals. The Arrowhead device is awarded to any service member who participates in an amphibious assault, a combat parachute drop, a helicopter assault landing, or a combat glider...

  • Awards and decorations of the United States military
    Awards and decorations of the United States military
    Awards and decorations of the United States Military are military decorations which recognize service and personal accomplishments while a member of the United States armed forces...

  • Fleet Marine Force Combat Operation Insignia
  • Service star
    Service star
    A service star, also referred to as a battle star, campaign star, or engagement star, is an attachment to a United States military decoration which denotes participation in military campaigns or multiple bestowals of the same award. Service stars are typically issued for campaign medals, service...

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