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|Vietnam Service Medal|
|Awarded by U.S. Department of Defense|
|Eligibility||Military personnel only|
|Awarded for||Awarded to all members of the United States Armed Forces serving in Vietnam and contiguous waters or airspace thereover. Members of the Armed Forces of the United States in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia, or the airspace thereover, during eligible periods and serving in direct support of operations in Vietnam.|
|Campaign||30 campaigns of the Vietnam War|
|Status||Issued per eligibility guidelines|
|Description||Obverse: On a bronze medal, 1-1/4 inches in diameter, an oriental dragon behind a grove of bamboo trees above the inscription "REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE".
Reverse: On the reverse, a crossbow surmounted a by a torch above the arched inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". Ribbon: The ribbon is 1-3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: three narrow (1/16 inch) strips of red with wider (5/32 inch) stripes of yellow in the center, flanked by even wider (5/16 inch) stripes of yellow on each side and narrow 1/8-inch stripes of primitive green on the ends. The yellow with red stripes was suggested by the flag of the Republic of Vietnam. The green alludes to the jungle.
|Clasps||Devices: campaign stars, arrowhead device and the FMF combat operation insignia may be authorized.|
|Established||EO 11231, July 8, 1965, as amended|
|First awarded||November 15, 1961 (retroactive)|
|Last awarded||April 30, 1975|
|Next (higher)||Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal|
|Next (lower)||Southwest Asia Service Medal|
|Related||Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal|
The Vietnam Service Medal (VSM) is a U.S. Military award which was created in 1965 by order of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The distinctive design was the creation of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, a former employee of the Army Institute of Heraldry. The medal is issued to recognize military service during the Vietnam War 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 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 C220.127.116.11.5. revised September 1996) between the dates of 15 November 1961 to 28 March 1973, and from 29 April 1975 to 30 April 1975.
For the United States Navy, 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 United States 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 3/16 inch campaign star (formerly a "service star" and then an "engagement star") is now authorized to be attached on the Vietnam Service Medal (a campaign medal) for each campaign participated in. Silver campaign stars are issued in lieu of five bronze campaign stars. 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 is part of the Department of the Navy and is eligible only for Navy campaigns). The exception to this rule is Operation Frequent Wind. The arrowhead device is authorized for campaign participation which involved an aerial or amphibious assault. The Fleet Marine Force (FMF) combat operation insignia is also authorized for certain Navy personnel. The United States Army, Marine Corps and Coast Guard recognize 17 campaign stars (3 silver and 2 bronze campaign stars) on the Vietnam Service campaign streamer. 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 (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, 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. This is a separate foreign award from the Vietnam Service Medal 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 military operations in the Republic of Vietnam was the normal requirement for the award.
|Vietnam service campaign dates|
|Name of campaign||Start date||End date||Army||USN/
|Vietnam Initial Advisory Campaign[a]||15 November 1961||1 March 1965||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Advisory Campaign[b]||15 March 1962||7 March 1965||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Defensive Campaign[a]||2 March 1965||30 January 1966||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Defense Campaign[b]||8 March 1965||24 December 1965||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Counteroffensive.[b]||25 December 1965||30 June 1966||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Counteroffensive[a]||31 January 1966||28 June 1966||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Offensive[a]||29 June 1966||8 March 1967||XXXXX|
|1 July 1966||31 May 1967||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Offensive
|9 March 1967||31 March 1967||XXXXX|
|1 June 1967||29 January 1968||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air/Ground Campaign[a]||22 January 1968||7 July 1968||XXXXX|
|Tet Counteroffensive[b]||30 January 1968||1 April 1968||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Offensive
|1 Apr 1968||31 October 1968||XXXXX|
|2 April 1968||30 June 1968||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|1 July 1968||1 November 1968||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Air Offensive
|1 November 1968||22 February 1969||XXXXX|
|2 November 1968||22 February 1969||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Tet 69 Counteroffensive[a][b]||23 February 1969||8 June 1969||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969[a][b]||9 June 1969||31 October 1969||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970[a][b]||1 November 1969||30 April 1970||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Sanctuary Counteroffensive[a][b]||1 May 1970||30 June 1970||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|1 July 1970||30 June 1971||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Southwest Monsoon[a]||1 July 1970||30 November 1970||XXXXX|
|Commando Hunt V[a]||1 December 1970||14 May 1971||XXXXX|
|Commando Hunt VI[a]||15 May 1971||31 October 1971||XXXXX|
|Consolidation I[b]||1 July 1971||30 November 1971||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Commando Hunt VII[a]||1 November 1971||29 March 1972||XXXXX|
|Consolidation II[b]||1 December 1971||29 March 1972||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Vietnam Cease-fire[b]||30 March 1972||28 January 1973||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Operation Frequent Wind[a][b]||29 April 1975||30 April 1975||XXXXX||XXXXX|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Vietnam Service Medal|