Korean Defense Medal
Display Recognition

Site Index

    Mailing Address

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

    Questions?

    Click here for answers to common questions

    Email: Recognition Inquiry

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

    Copyright ©  The American War Library
    Military and Veteran Websites
    The G.I. Photograph Museum of Honor
    Locator Registry Applications
    Accessing The Worldwide Military Personnel Database

    Issue Regulations
    The Korean Defense Service Medal


      Click for larger image

      This medal is awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who have been assigned, attached, or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility for thirty consecutive or for sixty non-consecutive days, or who meet the following criteria:

      • Be engaged in combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of elibility;
      • Is wounded or injured in the line of duty and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility;
      • While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, or within the area of eligibility in direct support of military operations. Each day that one or more sorties are flown in accordance with these criteria shall count as one day toward the 30 or 60 day requirement;
      • Personnel who serve in operations and exercises conducted in the area of eligibility are considered for the award as long as the basic time criteria are met. Due to the extensive time period for KDSM eligibility, the non-consecutive service period for eligibility remains cumulative throughout the entire period.

      RIBBON: Dark green represents the land of Korea, blue indicates overseas service and commitment to achieving peace. Gold denotes excellence, white symbolizes idealism and integrity.

      OBVERSE:

      Description: A bronze-color disc bearing a Korean "circle dragon" within an encircling scroll inscribed "Korean Defense Service Medal" with, in base, two sprigs, laurel to dexter side, bamboo to sinister.

      Symbolism: The four-clawed dragon is a traditional symbol of Korea and represents intelligence and strength of purpose. The sprig of laurel denotes honorable endeavor and victory, the bamboo refers to the land of Korea.

      REVERSE: A representation of the land mass of Korea surmounted by two swords points up saltirewise within a circlet garnished of five points.

      Symbolism: The swords placed saltirewise over a map of Korea signify defense of freedom in that country and the readiness to engage in combat to that end. The circlet enclosing the device recalls the forms of five-petal symbols common in Korean armory.

      Congressional Legislation

      107th CONGRESS
      1st Session

      H. R. 1935

      To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for a Korean Defense Service Medal to be issued to members of the Armed Forces who participated in operations in Korea after the end of the Korean War.

      IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

      May 22, 2001

      Mr. GALLEGLY (for himself, Mr. Spence, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Weldon of Pennsylvania, Mr. TAYLOR of Mississippi, Mr. McKeon, Ms. McKinney, Mrs. Wilson, Mr. Blagojevich, Mr. Scarborough, Mr. Langevin, Mr. RYUN of Kansas, Ms. Sanchez, Mr. Kirk, Mrs. Tauscher, Mr. Schrock, Mrs. Davis of California, Mr. Simmons, Mr. Berman, Mr. Burton of Indiana, Mr. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Hyde, Mr. Rush, Mr. Souder, Mr. Sanders, Mr. Quinn, Mr. Weiner, Ms. Hart, Mr. Stenholm, Mr. Weller, Mr. Cramer, Mr. Fossella, Mrs. Jones of Ohio, Mr. Kolbe, Mr. Filner, Mr. Schaffer, Mr. Rothman, Mr. English, Mr. Sessions, and Mr. Wolf) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services

      A BILL

      To amend title 10, United States Code, to provide for a Korean Defense Service Medal to be issued to members of the Armed Forces who participated in operations in Korea after the end of the Korean War.

      Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

      SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

      This Act may be cited as the Korean Defense Service Medal Act'.

      SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

      Congress makes the following findings:

      (1) More than 40,000 members of the United States Armed Forces have served on the Korean Peninsula each year since the signing of the cease-fire agreement in July 1953 ending the Korean War.

      (2) An estimated 1,200 members of the United States Armed Forces died as a direct result of their service in Korea since the cease-fire agreement in July 1953.

      SEC. 3. KOREAN DEFENSE SERVICE MEDAL.

      (a) ARMY- (1) Chapter 357 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

      Sec. 3754. Korean Defense Service Medal

      (a) The Secretary of the Army shall issue a campaign medal, to be known as the Korean Defense Service Medal, to each person who while a member of the Army served in the Republic of Korea or the waters adjacent thereto during the KDSM eligibility period and met the service requirements for the award of that medal prescribed under subsection (c).

      (b) In this section, the term KDSM eligibility period' means the period beginning on July 28, 1954, and ending on such date after the date of the enactment of this section as may be determined by the Secretary of Defense to be appropriate for terminating eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal.

      (c) The Secretary of the Army shall prescribe service requirements for eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal. Those requirements shall not be more stringent than the service requirements for award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for instances in which the award of that medal is authorized.'.

      (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      3754. Korean Defense Service Medal.'.

      (b) NAVY AND MARINE CORPS- (1) Chapter 567 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

      Sec. 6256. Korean Defense Service Medal

      (a) The Secretary of the Navy shall issue a campaign medal, to be known as the Korean Defense Service Medal, to each person who while a member of the Navy or Marine Corps served in the Republic of Korea or the waters adjacent thereto during the KDSM eligibility period and met the service requirements for the award of that medal prescribed under subsection (c).

      (b) In this section, the term KDSM eligibility period' means the period beginning on July 28, 1954, and ending on such date after the date of the enactment of this section as may be determined by the Secretary of Defense to be appropriate for terminating eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal.

      (c) The Secretary of the Navy shall prescribe service requirements for eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal. Those requirements shall not be more stringent than the service requirements for award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for instances in which the award of that medal is authorized.'.

      (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      6256. Korean Defense Service Medal.'.

      (c) AIR FORCE- (1) Chapter 857 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

      Sec. 8754. Korean Defense Service Medal

      (a) The Secretary of the Air Force shall issue a campaign medal, to be known as the Korean Defense Service Medal, to each person who while a member of the Air Force served in the Republic of Korea or the waters adjacent thereto during the KDSM eligibility period and met the service requirements for the award of that medal prescribed under subsection (c).

      (b) In this section, the term KDSM eligibility period' means the period beginning on July 28, 1954, and ending on such date after the date of the enactment of this section as may be determined by the Secretary of Defense to be appropriate for terminating eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal.

      (c) The Secretary of the Air Force shall prescribe service requirements for eligibility for the Korean Defense Service Medal. Those requirements shall not be more stringent than the service requirements for award of the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for instances in which the award of that medal is authorized.'.

      (2) The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

      8754. Korean Defense Service Medal.'.

      (d) AWARD FOR SERVICE BEFORE DATE OF ENACTMENT- The Secretary of the military department concerned shall take appropriate steps to provide in a timely manner for the issuance of the Korean Defense Service Medal, upon application therefor, to persons whose eligibility for that medal is by reason of service in the Republic of Korea or the waters adjacent thereto before the date of the enactment of this Act.

      END

      History and Information

      President Approves Gallegly-championed Korean Defense Service Medal

      02 DEC 2002 WASHINGTON, D.C. President Bush today signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which among other things directs the Department of Defense to issue a Korean Defense Service Medal as championed by Congressman Elton Gallegly (R-Ventura County).

      Last year, Congress approved language that only asked the DOD to consider a medal. But the DOD has consistently refused to issue the medal, leading Gallegly and his allies in the Senate to push for the stronger language this year.

      The language signed by the President today comes from Galleglys Korean Defense Service Medal Act, which he introduced last year. The language specifically directs the DOD to award a Korean Defense Service Medal to members of the armed forces who served in Korea after July 1954, when the DOD stopped issuing the Korea Service Medal.

      More than 40,000 members of the United States armed forces have served on the Korean Peninsula each year since the armistice was signed. Since then, an estimated 1,200 servicemen and women have died as a direct result of their Korean service.

      Since the Korean armistice was signed, there have been more than 40,000 breaches of the cease-fire, making it among the more dangerous places to serve.

      Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

      The House and Senate voted to include the KDSM as part of the final version of the 2003 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4546).

      The Conference report describes Section 543 as follows:

      Korean Defense Service Medal The Senate amendment contained a provision (sec. 532) that would require the service secretaries to issue a campaign medal, to be known as the Korean Defense Service Medal, to military personnel who served in the Republic of Korea, or the adjacent waters, between July 28, 1954, and a termination date determined by the Secretary of Defense, and who meet prescribed service requirements for eligibility. The House bill contained no similar provision. The House recedes with a technical amendment.

      The bill language recognizes the 40,000 servicemembers who have served in Korea since June 1953 and the 1,200 who have offered the ultimate sacrifice while serving there.

      Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA 23) was the first Member of Congress to create legislation for the service medal on May 22, 2001. His bill had 243 bipartisan cosponsors that included a majority of members on the House Armed Services Committee. A companion bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) on June 7, 2001 with 63 bipartisan cosponsors that also included a majority on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

      There has never been a surrender or formal truce agreement officially ending the Korean War in spite of 48 years of negotiation. Only a fragile cease-fire agreement is in place and technically, the countries remain at a state-of-war. Since cease-fire service began in 1954 there have been over 40,400 breaches to the cease-fire agreement by North Korean Forces. At least 1,200 U.S. personnel have died, hundreds wounded, and 87 captured and held prisoner. There are more than 2,300 Republic of Korea casualties. In August 1999 the Korean Defense Veterans of America, headquartered in Dunellen, NJ, initiated the project to bring proper recognition to cease-fire veterans. The KDVA is a national organization of current and former Armed Forces members from all branches of service that have served in Korea between 1945 and the present. The official web site is at: kdvamerica.org

      Go To Top of Page
      Go To Issue Regulations for Other Medals and Badges