Republic of Vietnam
Service Medal
Display Recognition

Site Index

      • Example Display Recognition
      • Applicable Military Branches
      • Display Types
      • Issue Requirements
      • Issue Regulations
      • Operation Frequent Wind
      • Who May Apply
      • Executive Order 11231
      • Administration Processing and Delivery
      • How To Apply For This Display Recognition and/or Medal
      • Mailing Address
      • Questions?
      • Vietnam Cross of Gallantry Display Recognition
      • Other Display Recognitions
      • Vietnam War Websites
      • Vietnam War Discussion Group
      • Example Display Recognition:
        Actual Size: 8 1/2 x 11
        Displayed: Army.
        All Five Service Branches, Air Force, Army, Coast Guard,
        Marine and Navy are Applicable.

        Military Branches

        All Military Service branches are applicable:
        Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy

        Who May Apply

        • Veteran recipients
        • Active Duty recipients
        • Family Members of recipients
        • Estate Inheritors

        Display Types

        You have four display types to choose from:
        Black & White (No Color)
        Heavy Bond Enclosure

        Heavy Bond Enclosure
        Colors: Regal, Black, Navy
        Trimmed in Appearance Gold

        Ready for Mantle or Shelf Display

        Issue Requirements
        You must submit the following:

      • An unaltered photocopy of your DD-214, OR other military issued document clearly displaying your wartime Vietnam service.
      • Contact The War Library if you do not have a DD-214: 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone).
      • NOTICE

        This Display Recognition is available ONLY to authorized recipients who possess orders, or authorization form, or release documentation that confirms award eligibility. (See "Issue Requirements"). To obtain either a Display Medal or a Display Recognition for your authorized award you will be required to provide military-issued documentation authorizing your award. There are no exceptions.

        You must NOT submit a military issued document or photocopy that:

        • has been altered in any way by you after
          the original's official issue
        • contains information or corrections or
          additions that you entered
        • lists awards or training you knowingly did not receive
        • contains highlighting, colorizing or other markings you entered

        Be advised that on request any knowingly fraudulent document sent by you will be released to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that may result in prosecution and/or fine/imprisonment.

        Email Questions, or Phone: 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone)

        Personnel Branch
        Processing and Delivery

        Style Admin Shipping Total
        Full Color .PDF (Printable) $7.50 Emailed $7.50
        Published Document only (Full Color) $14.00 $10.50 USPS $24.50
        Published Document in Heavy Bond Enclosure (Full Color) $19.00 $10.50 USPS $29.50
        Full Color Printable Certificates
        on CD-Rom (minimum 20 Certificates)
        $7.50 $7.50 By Count

      • Total/Shipping fees, above, apply to 50 U.S. states
      • Contact The War Library for international shipping cost
      • How To Apply

        You may apply for your Display Recognition using a...

      • Check Debit card (* Shipped within 1 week)
      • Charge card (* Shipped within 1 week)
      • Personal, Business, Bank or Cashiers Check ( Shipped in 6 weeks)
      • Money Order (* Shipped in 6 weeks)
      • (* Upon reception of required documentation)

        Please complete and MAIL the APPLICATION FORM.

      • Vietnam SERVICE Medal Display Recognition
      • Mailing Address

        Records Chief (REC-AMW)
        The American War Library
        817 East Via Carmelitos Ste 319
        Long Beach CA 90805-7549


        Click here for answers to common questions

        Email: Recognition Inquiry

        Telephone: 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone)

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        Locator Registry Applications
        Accessing The Worldwide Military Personnel Database

        Issue Regulations
        The Vietnam War Service Medal

        Establishing Authority

        Click for larger image

        The Vietnam Service Medal was established by Executive Order 11231 signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 8, 1965.

        Effective Dates

        Initially, the Vietnam Service Medal was authorized for qualifying service between 01 July 1958 and 28 March 1973. After this initial authorization certain personnel who served in Vietnam between 28 March 1973 and 30 April 1975 (during Operation Frequent Wind) are also authorized the VSM, as well as all US military personnel who served in-country or in-waters prior to 07/01/1958 under MAAG.


        The Vietnam Service Medal is authorized to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who served at any time in Vietnam or its contiguous waters or airspace; or, limited to specific persons on an individual bases for service Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia or the air spaces thereover and in direct support of operations in Vietnam. (This does not include ALL personnel who served in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia during the Vietnam War.)

        Order of Precedence

        The Vietnam Service Medal is worn after the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and before the Southwest Asia Service Medal.


        A. Bronze service/campaign/battle stars

        Bronze stars are authorized for participation in the the 29 campaigns specified for the Vietnam War. A silver star is worn in lieu of five bronze stars. See Campaigns and Dates

        B. Bronze Arrowhead

        The bronze arrowhead is authorized for members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade who actually participated in a landing in the vicinity of Katum, RVN, between the hours of 0900-0907 on February 22, 1967.


        The Vietnam Service Medal was designed by Mercedes Lee and sculpted by Frank King.

        First Recipient

        The identity of the first recipient of the Vietnam Service Medal is not known.

        Description and Symbolism


        In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, an Asian dragon in profile is shown partially hidden by a grove of bamboo trees. In the exergue, the words REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE are shown in three lines.

        The bamboo grove was taken from the flag of the President of Vietnam, who at the beginning of the war was Ngo Ninh Diem (1901-1963). Diem was the first President of the Republic of Vietnam. The bamboo grove was a symbol of the first republic Vietnam, which followed the last imperial government under Emperor Bao Dai. The bamboo grove represented the lawful, democratic state. The dragon behind the bamboo grove is a traditional symbol of vietnam.


        In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a crossbow over which is superimposed a flaming torch. In the lower half of the medal, and following the contour of its rim, the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

        The crossbow is the ancient weapon of Vietnam. It is surmounted by the torch from the Statue of Liberty, symbolic of the United States and of freedom.


        The ribbon to the Vietnam Service Medal consists of a gold background edged in green, with three red stripes in the center. The gold background with the three red stripes is the flag of South Vietnam and represents the political state supported by the United States during the war; the green edge stripes represent the vegetation of Southeast Asia and allude to the physical terrain in which the service was rendered.

        The Vietnam Service Medal was established by Executive Order 11231 from President Johnson's desk on 8 July 1965.

        The distinctive design was the creation of sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, a former employee of the Army's Institute of Heraldry.

        The service medal was awarded to all members of the armed forces who served in Vietnam and contiguous waters and airspace between 01 July 1958 and 28 March 1973.

        In addition, personnel serving in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia in direct support of operations in Vietnam during the same time period also were eligible for the medal.

        To qualify for award of the VSM an individual must meet one of the following qualifications:

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

        (2) Be attached to or regularly serve for 1 or more days aboard a Naval vessel directly supporting military operations.

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

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

        Individuals qualified for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for reason of service in Vietnam between I July 1958 and 3 July 1965 (inclusive) shall remain qualified for that medal. Upon request, any such individual may be awarded the VSM instead of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. No person will be entitled to both awards for Vietnam service.

        Vietnam and contiguous waters, as used herein, is defined as an area which includes Vietnam and the water adjacent thereto within the following specified limits: From a point on the East Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with China southeastward to 21 N. Latitude, 108 15'E. Longitude; thence, southward to 18 N. Latitude, 108 15'E. Longitude; thence southeastward to 17 30'N. Latitude, 111 E. Longitude; thence southward to 11 N. Latitude; 111 E. Longitude, thence southwestward to 7 N. Latitude, 105 E. Longitude; thence westward to 7 N. Latitude, 103 E. longitude, thence northward to 9 30'N. Latitude, 103 E. Longitude, thence northeastward to 10 15'N. Latitude, 104 27'E. Longitude, thence northward to a point on the West Coast of Vietnam atthe juncture of Vietnam with Cambodia.

        There are a total of 17 campaign stars authorized for the Vietnam Service Medal. Personnel are authorized one bronze campaign star for each qualifying campaign with a silver star worn in lieu of five bronze stars.


      • Vietnam Initial Advisory Campaign: from 1961-11-15 to 1965-03-01
      • Vietnam Advisory Campaign: from 1962-03-15 to 1965-03-07
      • Vietnam Defense Campaign: from 1965-03-08 to 1965-12-24
      • Vietnam Air Defensive Campaign: from 1965-03-02 to 1966-01-30
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive: from 1965-12-25 to 1966-06-30
      • Vietnam Air Counteroffensive: from 1966-01-31 to 1966-06-28
      • Vietnam Air Offensive from 1966-06-29 to 1967-03-08
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase II: from 1966-07-01 to 1967-05-31
      • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II: from 1967-03-09 to 1968-03-31
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase III: from 1967-06-01 to 1968-01-29
      • Vietnam Air/Ground Campaign: from 1968-01-22 to 1968-07-07
      • Tet Counteroffensive: from 1968-01-30 to 1968-04-01
      • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III: from 1968-04-01 to 1968-10-31
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase IV: from 1968-04-02 to 1968-06-30
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase V: from 1968-07-01 to 1968-11-01
      • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV: from 1968-11-01 to 1969-02-22
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VI: from 1968-11-02 to 1969-02-22
      • Tet 1969 Counteroffensive: from 1969-02-23 to 1969-06-08
      • Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969: from 1969-06-09 to 1969-10-31
      • Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970: from 1969-11-01 to 1970-04-30
      • Sanctuary Counteroffensive: from 1970-05-01 to 1970-06-30
      • Southwest Monsoon: from 1970-07-01 to 1970-11-30
      • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VII: from 1970-07-01 to 1971-06-30
      • Commando Hunt V: from 1970-12-01 to 1971-05-14
      • Commando Hunt VI: from 1971-05-15 to 1971-10-31]]
      • Consolidation I: from 1971-07-01 to 1971-11-30
      • Commando Hunt VII: from 1971-11-01 to 1972-03-29
      • Consolidation II: from 1971-12-01 to 1972-03-29
      • Vietnam Cease Fire: from 1972-03-30 to 1973-03-28
      • Operation Frequent Wind: from 29 April 1975 to 30 April 1975

        The design of the medal's suspension ribbon reflects that of the flag of the former South Vietnam -- yellow with three red stripes. The green trim at the edges is suggestive of the jungle nature of the conflict.

        Executive Order 11231:
        Establishing the Vietnam Service Medal

        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.

        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.

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


        SEC. 542. Option to convert award of Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal awarded for Operation Frequent Wind to Vietnam Service Medal.

        (a) IN GENERAL- The Secretary of the military department concerned shall, upon the application of an individual who is an eligible Vietnam evacuation veteran, award that individual the Vietnam Service Medal, notwithstanding any otherwise applicable requirements for the award of that medal. Any such award shall be made in lieu of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal awarded the individual for participation in Operation Frequent Wind.

        (b) ELIGIBLE VIETNAM EVACUATION VETERAN- For purposes of this section, the term `eligible Vietnam evacuation veteran' means a member or former member of the Armed Forces who was awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for participation in military operations designated as Operation Frequent Wind arising from the evacuation of Vietnam on April 29 and 30, 1975.

        4. Personnel that were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for participating in Operation Frequent Wind from 29-30 April 1975 are now entitled to exchange it for the Vietnam Service Medal per section 542 in public law 107-314. Operation Frequent Wind, 29-30 april 1975, will be reflected as the 18th campaign under the Vietnam Campaign.

        A. Commanders are authorized to process requests for personnel under his/her cognizance.

        b. Retired and former personnel affected by this law need to submit their requests using form SF180 ( to The National Personnel Records Center by fax to (314) 801-9195 or by mail to:

        9700 PAGE AVENUE
        ST. LOUIS MO 63132

        Requests addressed to NPRC must include the following personal information: full name, ssn, service/serial number, branch of service, date of birth, and period of service.

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