Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

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Service: All Services
Instituted: 1961 Qualifying Dates: 1958 to present Criteria: Participation in military operations not covered by specific war
Dates: July 1, 1968 to Present
Criteria: Participation in mil­itary operations not cov­ered by specific war award.
Devices: All Services: Bronze, Silver Star; Army: Bronze Arrowhead; Navy: Bronze Marine Corps device
Notes: Authorized for ser­vice in Vietnam until estab­lishment of VSM. The bronze arrowhead was approved for Grenada parachute jump (Army personnel only).

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Overview

President John F. Kennedy characterized the post World War II period as: “a twilight that is neither peace nor war.” During the period commonly referred to as the Cold War, the Armed Services agreed to one award that to recognize major actions not otherwise covered by a specific campaign award.

The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was authorized on December 4, 1961 to any member of the United States Armed Forces for U.S. military operations, U.S. operations in direct support of the United Nations and U.S. operations of assistance to friendly foreign nations after July 1, 1958. Operations that qualify for this award are authorized in specific orders. Participating personnel must have served at least 30 consecutive (60 nonconsecutive) days in the qualifying operation or less if the operation was less than 30 days in length. The award may also be authorized for individuals who do not meet the basic criteria but who do merit special recognition for their service in the designated operation.

Award Dates

The first qualifying operation was Operation Blue Bat, a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon from July 1 to November 1, 1958. This award was initially awarded for Vietnam service between July 1, 1958 and July 3, 1965; an individual awarded the medal for this period of Vietnam service may elect to keep the award or request the Vietnam Service Medal in its place. However, both awards may not be retained for the same period of Vietnam service. Many personnel received this medal for continuing service in Cambodia after the Vietnam cease-fire. The medal was also authorized for those serving in the Persian Gulf area who previously would have qualified for the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medalwhose qualification periods for that area terminated on November 30, 1995. Individuals who qualify for both the Southwest Asia Service Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal must elect to receive the Expeditionary medal.

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

The front of the medal depicts an American eagle with wings raised, perched on a sword. Behind this is a compass rose with rays coming from the angles of the compass points. The words “ARMED FORCES EXPEDITIONARY SERVICE” encircle the design. The reverse of the medal depicts the Presidential shield with branches of laurel below and the inscription, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” The American national colors are located at the center position or honor point of the ribbon. The light blue sections on either side suggest water and overseas service, while various colors representing areas of the world where American troops may be called upon to serve run outward to the edge.

The qualifying campaigns :
• Lebanon, Jul. 1, 1958 – Nov. 1, 1958
• Taiwan Straits, Aug. 23, 1958 – Jan. 1, 1959
• Quemoy & Matsu Islands, Aug. 23, 1958 – Jun. 1, 1963
• Vietnam, Jul. 1, 1958 – Jul. 3, 1965
• Congo, Jul. 14, 1960 – Sep. 1, 1962
• Laos, Apr. 19, 1961 – Oct. 7, 1962
• Berlin, Aug. 14, 1961 – Jun. 1, 1963
• Cuba, Oct. 24, 1962 – Jun. 1, 1963
• Congo, Nov. 23-27, 1964
• Dominican Republic, Apr. 23. 1965 – Sep. 21, 1966
• Korea, Oct. 1, 1966 – Jun. 30, 1974
• Cambodia, Mar. 29, 1973 – Aug. 15, 1973
• Thailand, Mar. 29, 1973 – Aug. 15, 1973 (Only those in direct support of Cambodia)
• Operation Eagle Pull – Cambodia, Apr. 11-13, 1975 (Includes evacuation)
• Operation Frequent Wind – Vietnam, Apr. 29-30, 1975
• Mayaquez Operation, May 15, 1975
• El Salvador, Jan. 1 , 1981 – Feb. 1, 1992
• Lebanon, Jun. 1, 1983 – Dec. 1, 1987
• Operation Urgent Fury-Grenada, Oct. 23, 1983 – Nov. 21, 1983
• Eldorado Canyon – Libya, Apr. 12-17, 1986
• Operation Earnest Will – Persian Gulf, Jul. 24, 1987 – Aug. 1, 1990 (Only those participating in, or in direct support)
• Operation Just Cause – Panama, Dec. 20, 1989 – Jan. 31, 1990 (USS Vreeland & other SVS-designated aircrew mbrs. outside the Conus in direct support)
• United Shield – Somalia, Dec. 5, 1992 – Mar. 31, 1995
• Operation Restore Hope – Somalia, Dec. 5, 1992 – Mar. 31, 1995
• Operation Uphold Democracy – Haiti, Sept. 1994 – Mar. 31, 1995
• Operation Joint Endeavor – Bosnia,
• Croatia, the Adriatic Sea & Airspace, Nov. 20, 1995 – Dec. 19, 1996
• Operation Vigilant Sentinel – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, & Persian Gulf Dec. 1, 1995 – Sep. 1,1997
• Operation Southern Watch – Iraq, SaudiArabia, Kuwait, Persian Gulf, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Gulf of Oman W of 62° E Long., Yemen, Egypt, & Jordan
• Operation Maritime Intercept – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman W of 62° E Long., Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Yemen, Egypt & Jordan Dec. 1, 1995 – Open
• Operation Joint Guard – Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia, Adriatic Sea & Airspace, Dec. 20, 1996 – Jun. 20, 2008
• Operation Northern Watch – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Persian Gulf of W of 56° E Long., and Incirlik AB, Turkey (Only pers. TDY to ONW), Jan. 1, 1997 – 18 March 2003
• Operation Joint Forge – Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Adriatic Sea & Airspace, Jun. 21, 1998 – Open
• Operation Desert Thunder – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Omar, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea support, Nov. 11, 1998 – Dec. 22, 1998
• Operation Desert Fox – Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman,
• Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Persian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, USN Red Sea support, 16 Dec. -22 Dec. 1998
• Operation Desert Spring, Southwest Asia, 31 Dec.1998-18 Mar. 2003
• Operation Secure Tomorrow, 29 Feb. 2004- 15 Jun. 2004

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Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, 8.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
There are 6 comments for this article
  1. jeff puritz at 11:59 am
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    many of us blue-water navy men served in the always ignored operation end sweep after march 29 1973-aug 1973. maybe we should receive an expeditionary medal after 40 years of neglect. the operation was praised by the then head of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral thomas moorer, as contributing significantly to the timely release of u.s. prisoners of war. why no recognition, why?

  2. Bob Hill at 10:38 am
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    Served in the Marine Corps 1977-1981 ,Did numerous NATO exercises in Germany, Norway x2 Above the Arctic Circle.Served and was on board ships during the Iran Hostage Crises.We could have been deployed into harms way at any time.But we were Only known as Marine Amphibious Units at this time and did not rate any expeditionary medals.or Armed forces Service Medals. In 1983 all MAUs were Changed to Marine Expeditionary Forces.I made Sgt in three years and when I got out I rated my Good Conduct Ribbon That was All most of us received for our time served. they didn't even give us Arctic Service Ribbons they do now. Its a shame for members who served between 1976 and 1982. We also did not rate a National Defense Medal either.

  3. Chuck at 12:42 pm
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    Operation End Sweep, Cold War Vets and Blue Water Navy vets exposed to Agent Orange have for too long been ignored, overlooked and forgotten by this county. THEY DON”T CARE!!!

    • jeff puritz at 12:42 pm
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      I agree. No one gives a crap about cold war vets, blue water vets, or Operation Endsweep vets! You would think maybe Sen.John McCain might demand recognition for us. HAHAHA!

  4. John Kroehler at 12:46 pm
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    I served in Taiwan from September 1958 to March 1959 as part of the Quemoy & Matsu compaign. I left active duty in July 1959 and my DD214 showed overseas time but no location and no medals earned. The Expeditionary Medal was authorized for this campaign in 1961, but I never received one. I have a copy of the ADC Special Orders sending me to Travis for transportation to support “Project Shakleg” (Taiwan) but this never got into my personnel records. How do I prove that I was there and obtain my medal?

  5. Stephen Jameson at 3:13 pm
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    My DD214 shows the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. It was awarded for participation in the Naval Task Force sent to the Sea of Japan off North Korea when the North Koreans seized the USS Pueblo in early 1968. The Task Force consisted of aircraft carriers and their air wings, cruisers, destroyers, troop transports with Marine detachments embarked, and support ships, maintaining a high level of readiness awaiting orders from the President (LBJ) to enter North Korea and take back our ship and crew. After about 2 weeks, we were told to stand down without resolution. Not sure why there are never any references to this in official documentation.

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