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


The Vietnam Service Medal was awarded for qualifying service between July 4, 1965, and March 28, 1973.


The Vietnam Service Medal was awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who served at any time between July 4, 1965, and March 28, 1973, in Vietnam or its contiguous waters or airspace; or, for any period of service during the same time period in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia or the air spaces thereover and in direct support of operations in Vietnam.


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

  • Bronze 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.
  • Vietnam Advisory Campaign (USAF): November 15 1961 to March 1, 1965

  • Vietnam Advisory Campaign (Army, Navy, USCG): March 15, 1962 to March 7, 1965

  • Vietnam Defense Campaign (Army, Navy USCG): March 8 to December 24, 1965

  • Vietnam Defensive Campaign (USAF): March 2, 1965 to January 30, 1966

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive (Army, Navy, USCG): December 25, 1965 to June 30, 1966

  • Vietnam Air (USAF): January 31 to June 28, 1966

  • Vietnam Air Offensive (USAF): June 29, 1966 to March 8, 1967

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase II (Army, Navy, USCG): July 1, 1966 to May 31, 1967

  • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase II (USAF): March 9, 1967 to March 31, 1968

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase III (Army, Navy, USCG): June 1, 1967 to January 29, 1968

  • Vietnam Air/Ground (USAF): January 22 to July 7, 1968

  • Tet Counteroffensive (Army, Navy, USCG): January 30 to April 1, 1968

  • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase III (USAF): April 1 to October 31, 1968

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase IV (Army, Navy, USCG): April 2 to June 30, 1968

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase V (Army, Navy, USCG): July 1 to November 1, 1968

  • Vietnam Air Offensive, Phase IV (USAF): November 1, 1968 to February 22, 1969

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VI (Army, Navy, USCG): Nov 2, 1968 to Feb 22, 1969

  • Tet 1969 Counteroffensive (Army, USAF, USCG): February 23 to June 8, 1969

  • Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969 (Army, Navy, USAF, USCG): June 9 to October 31, 1969

  • Vietnam Winter-Spring 1970 (Army, Navy, USAF, USCG): November 1, 1969 to April 30, 1970

  • Sanctuary Counteroffensive (Army, Navy, USAF, USCG): May 1 to June 30, 1970

  • Southwest Monsoon (USAF): July 1 to November 30, 1970

  • Vietnam Counteroffensive, Phase VII (Army, Navy, USCG): July 1, 1970 to June 30, 1971

  • Commando Hunt V (USAF): December 1, 1970 to May 14, 1971

  • Commando Hunt VI (USAF): May 15 to October 31, 1971

  • Consolidation I (Army, Navy, USCG): July 1 to November 30, 1971

  • Commando Hunt VII (USAF): November 1, 1971 to March 29, 1972

  • Consolidation II (Army, Navy, USCG): December 1, 1971 to March 29, 1972

  • Vietnam Cease Fire (Army, Navy, USAF, USCG): March 30, 1972 to January 28, 1973
  • 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.


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



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.

Campaign and Expeditionary Medals (Main Index Page)
Campaign Medals Common To All Services (Index Page)
Quick Reference: Campaign and Expeditionary Medals
Home Page