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Air Force Medals and Ribbons


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: In Vietnam and the contiguous waters and airspace; in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia or the airspace thereover or 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.

The medal was designed by Thomas H. Jones, a sculptor and former employee of the Institute of Heraldry, 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.

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.

Graphics & Information Courtesy of United States Air Force

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