Vietnam Service Medal

Vietnam Service Medal

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Vietnam Service Medal

Vietnam Service Medal

Vietnam Service Medal

Service: All Services
Instituted: 1965
Dates: 1965-73
Vietnam Service Medal Criteria: Service in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, or Thailand during the above period. Prior to issuance of this award in November 1965, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was given to those who served in Vietnam. After that period, it is the veteran’s choice to exchange the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for the Vietnam Service Medal. It is the military’s policy that you cannot have two medals to recognize service in the same action. There were 17 campaigns during the Vietnam War.

Devices: All Services: Bronze, Silver star; Army: Bronze Arrowhead; Navy: Bronze Marine Corps device

The Vietnam Service Medal is often abbreviated VSM on a DD214.

Vietnam Service Medal – Overview

Authorized by executive order on July 8, 1965 for U.S. military personnel serving in the Vietnam Theater of Operations after July 3, 1965 through March 28, 1973. Personnel must have served in Vietnam on temporary duty for at least 30 consecutive/60 nonconsecutive days or have served in combat with a unit directly supporting a military operation in Southeast Asia. Military personnel serving in Laos, Cambodia or Thailand in direct support of operations in Vietnam are also eligible for this medal. The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was awarded for earlier service in Vietnam from July 1, 1958 to July 3, 1965, inclusive; personnel receiving that award may be awarded the Vietnam Service Medal, but are not authorized both awards for Vietnam service. The front of the military medal depicts an oriental dragon behind a grove of bamboo trees; below the base of the trees is the inscription, “REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE.” The reverse of the medal depicts a crossbow with a torch through the center and contains the inscription, “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” along the bottom edge. The colors of the suspension drape and ribbon suggest the flag of the Republic of Vietnam (the red stripes represent the three ancient Vietnamese empires of Tonkin, Annam, and Cochin China) and the green represents the Vietnamese jungle. Bronze and silver stars are authorized to signify participation in any of the 17 designated campaigns during the inclusive period.

Designated campaigns for the Vietnam Service Medal are as follows:

Army and Naval Services:

• Vietnam (VN) Advisory, 1962 – 1965
• VN Defense, 1965 – 1965
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign, 1965 – 1966
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase II, 1966 -1967
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase III, 1967 – 1968
• TET Counteroffensive, 1968
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase IV, 1968
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase V, 1968
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase VI, 1968 – 1969
• TET69 Counteroffensive, 1969
• VN Summer – Fall 1969, 1969
• Vietnam Winter – Spring 1970, 1969 – 1970
• Sanctuary Counteroffensive, 1970
• VN Counteroffensive Campaign Phase VII, 1970 – 1971
• Consolidation I, 1971
• Consolidation II, 1971 – 1972
• Vietnam Cease-Fire Campaign, 1972 – 1973

Air Force:

• Vietnam (VN) Advisory, 1961 – 1965
• VN Defense, 1965 – 1966
• VN Air Campaign, 1966
• VN Air Offensive Phase I, 1966 – 1967
• VN Air Offensive Phase II, 1967 – 1968
• VN Air/Ground Campaign, 1968
• VN Air Offensive Phase III, 1968
• VN Air Offensive Phase IV, 1968 – 1969
• TET 69/Counteroffensive, 1969
• VN Summer-Fall, 69, 1969
• VN Winter-Spring, 1969 – 1970
• Sanctuary Counteroffensive, 1970
• Southwest Monsoon, 1970
• Commando Hunt V, 1970 – 1971
• Commando Hunt VI, 1971
• Commando Hunt VII, 1971 – 1972
• Vietnam Cease-Fire, 1972 – 1973

Medals of America also offers military badges, challenge coins, and military medals mounted for wear. Call us at 800-308-0849 to purchase the VSM or add it to your cart today.

Vietnam Service Medal, 7.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings
There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Patrick at 10:30 am
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    On my DD214 & DD215 I am a recipient of both medals, Vietnam Service Medal & Armed Forces Expeditionary iMedals.
    I know I can only wear one of them, But on my display case can I display both medals

  2. Jim S at 12:20 pm
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    I just had a new DD-214 issued, It list all my medals now. Question: The RVN Gallantry Cross W/P does not indicate unit citation or individual so how do I know which ribbon to use for my shadow box. It just list: Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross With Palm ( RVNGC W/P). Just want to be accurate. Thanks for any input.

  3. Kevin Mc. at 10:19 am
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    Question. My fathers DD214 does not list his Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon from Vietnam, but he has the ribbon. How do you correct this? Thanks.

  4. Richard at 11:52 am
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    I have a Vietnam Service Medal, but it has some peculiar characteristics, and I'm wondering what it is exactly. It appears to be anodized–i.e., plated with a bright, brassy but worn finish. There is no design on the reverse side. The dragon on the front is in front of the bamboo, not behind, and is of a different design than the standard design seen. Also, the word Vietnam is two words –i.e., "VIET NAM" rather than "VIETNAM" as seen on other Vietnam Service Medals. The ribbon has a much longer drape and appears to be 1960s vintage. It has a crimp brooch but the plate on the brooch behind the pin has two holes spaced in it and the attachment system pin itself is the springy type that must be depressed slightly for it to catch.
    Any ideas as to what this is exactly?

  5. Sam McGowan at 2:36 pm
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    If a veteran served in Vietnam prior to the authorization of the VNSM they would have been awarded the AFEM, however, if they were still in Vietnam or Thailand when the VNSM was awarded, they would be entitled to wear both. A veteran who served prior to the authorization of the VNSM could have one or the other, but would have to apply to have their AFEM converted to a VNSM. The AFEM is awarded for participation in a military expedition. I already had one plus two stars when the VNSM was authorized for service in two other military expeditions as well as Vietnam, then I was awarded the VNSM for service in Vietnam.

  6. Sam McGowan at 2:39 pm
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    Nobody was ever presented either the VNSM or AFEM. Anyone has the actual medal would have had to purchase it somewhere. Service medals aren't actually presented. Heck, I was never presented the Air Medal, which prior to Vietnam and even during the build-up merited a parade. All a member got for either the AFEM or VNSM was a set of orders and the award posted to their personnel records.

  7. Roland Cadieux at 4:10 pm
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    I have the afexpeditionary medal on my 214, the v.a. has turned me down for boots on the ground. I was given this in 1964. I thought this was proof of being in nam. can anyone please help me

  8. Roland Cadieux at 4:16 pm
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    can anyone help me prove that a.f. expeditionary was given to me for nam service. its on my 214.i received it in 1964, and the v.a. says its not enough pove. please help me.

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