Vietnam Service Medal


Created by Executive Order 11213, July 8, 1965. It is awarded to all service members of the armed forces who between July 4, 1965 and March 28, 1973, served in the following areas of Southeast Asia; Vietnam and the contiguous waters and airspace; Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia; or the airspace thereof and in the direct support of military operations in Vietnam.


Personnel previously awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam between July 1958 and July 1965, may, upon request, exchange that medal for the Vietnam Service Medal (pictured below); however, no one is authorized to wear both medals solely for services in Vietnam.



There were 17 different campaign periods, but the first, which was called the Vietnam Advisory Campaign, covered the period from March 15, 1962 to March 7, 1964. During this time there were never more than a few thousand U.S. troops involved in Vietnam.


The following is a list of Department of Defense recognized military campaigns associated with eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal, provided a member meets the award eligibility criteria listed below:


-Vietnam Advisory Campaign: March 15, 1962 – March 7, 1965

-Vietnam Defense Campaign: *July 4, 1965 – Dec. 24, 1965

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Campaign: Dec, 25, 1965 – June 30, 1966

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase II: July 1, 1966 – May 31, 1967

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase III: June 1, 1967 – Jan. 29, 1968

-Tet Counteroffensive: Jan. 30, 1968 – April 1, 1968

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase IV: April 2, 1968 – June 30, 1968

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase V: July 1, 1968 – Nov. 1, 1968

-Vietnam Counteroffensive Phase VI: Nov. 2, 1968 – Feb. 22, 1969

-Tet '69 Counteroffensive: Feb. 23, 1969 – June 8, 1969

-Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969: June 9, 1969 – Oct. 31, 1969

-Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970: Nov. 1, 1969 – April 30, 1970

-Sanctuary Counteroffensive: May 1, 1970 – June 30, 1970

-Vietnam Counteroffensive VII: July 1, 1970 – June 30, 1971

-Consolidation I: July 1, 1971 – Nov. 30, 1971

-Consolidation II: Dec. 1, 1971 – March 20, 1972

-Vietnam Cease-Fire Campaign: March 30, 1972 – Jan. 28, 1973


Note: Asterisk (*) indicates the effective eligibility date for the VSM which began July 4, 1965, however the entire period for the Vietnam Defense Campaign is March 8, 1965 – Dec. 24, 1965.



The medal was designed by Thomas H. Jones, a sculptor and former employee of the Institute of Heraldy, U.S. Army. Centered on the obverse of the medal is the figure of a dragon, behind a grove of bamboo trees. Below this design is the inscription "Republic of Vietnam Service." On the reverse of the medal is a cross-bow (the ancient weapon of Vietnam), surmounted by a lighted torch. Below this, along the outer edge are the words "United States of America" in raised letters.



The ribbon has a thin stripe of red in the center, flanked on either side by a narrow stripe of yellow, thin stripe of red, wide stripe of yellow, and a narrow stripe of green at the edges, or predominately yellow with three red stripes at the center and green stripes at the edges. Campaign stars were worn on the ribbon to indicate the number of campaigns the recipients served in during their service in Vietnam.



Bronze or Silver Service Star