Vietnam War medals

Awards and Decorations for the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, was the conflict between North Vietnam and their allies and the government of South Vietnam and their allies. The United States got involved in 1965 and maintained involvement until the end of the war, which was highly controversial at the time.

During and after the war was difficult for all of the military members involved. When soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines came home from service they were heckled, yelled at, and spit on at airports and in public. Now that time has passed, the attitudes and feelings towards Vietnam veterans has changed to feelings of gratitude and admiration.

vietnam awards and decorations

Reflecting the feelings of gratitude and admiration and honoring the service and sacrifices of the brave servicemen and women is important to Medals of America. Medals of America proudly carries official Vietnam War medals and ribbons as well as commemorative medals for veterans and their families.

Medals of the Vietnam War

The medals created and awarded during the Vietnam War were awarded by the United States or the former government of South Vietnam to the Vietnamese military and the U.S. military.

The medals listed below have corresponding ribbons with attachments if applicable. Many Americans also received declarations and certificates upon receiving awards and medals. The certificates and declarations were often colorful and embellished with the image of the medal awarded.

Vietnam Service Medal: Instituted by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1665 to all those who served in the Vietnam theater including Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It is also awarded to those who participated in the Evacuation of Saigon after it fell and was captured by North Korea.

The ribbon is authorized for three devices: the arrowhead device, a service (campaign) star, and a Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia. The Fleet Marine Force insignia is for Navy personnel assigned to a Marine Corps unit during combat.

RVN Campaign Medal with 1960 Device: The medal has been used in the First Indochina War from March 1949 to July 1954, and the Second Indochina War from March 1966 to the end of Vietnamese War. For the Vietnam War the medal was awarded by the Vietnamese government to members of the South Vietnamese military and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The medal has multiple clasps, or devices, denoting the year of service. The medal with the 1960 clasp signifies involvement in the Vietnam War.

Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry: Also known as the Vietnamese Gallantry Cross, or Vietnam Cross of Gallantry this was instituted by the former government of South Vietnam in August of 1950. Recipients were awarded for valor and heroic action in combat with the enemy.

There are four versions of the Gallantry Cross which have different attachment devices on the medal. The different versions are Gallantry Cross with Palm, Gallantry Cross with Silver Star, with Gallantry Cross with Gold Star, and Gallantry Cross with Bronze Star.

Armed Forces Honor Medal 1st and 2nd Class: This medal was awarded by South Vietnam to members of foreign militaries and military advisors of the U.S. Armed Forces. As the name suggests, it is awarded in two classes. The Armed Forces Honor Medal 1st Class was awarded to commissioned officers and the 2nd Class Medal was awarded to warrant officers and enlisted personnel.

Civil Action Medal 1st and 2nd Class: The Civil Action Medal 1st and 2nd Class, also known as the Vietnam Civil Actions Medal or Civil Actions Medal, was established in 1964. It was awarded by South Vietnam to allied forces who performed outstanding achievements in the civil action field.

The 1st Class medal and ribbon are awarded to commissioned officers and 2nd Class for enlisted personnel. The Civil Action Medal was also awarded as a unit citation to participating units. The unit citation has the palm attachment with a gold frame.

Pre-existing Medals Awarded to Vietnam Veterans

For every conflict fought in, campaign served in, and deployment completed, members of the Armed Forces are awarded medals for their merit and accomplishments in certain fields. These medals aren’t conflict-specific like the Vietnam medals listed above.

For example, the National Defense Service is awarded to members of the Armed Forces for honorable service during American conflicts. Good Conduct medals and Expeditionary medals are also commonly awarded during wartime for all branches.

Commemorative Medals for the Vietnam War

Commemorative medals are available for purchase for collectors, veterans building their shadow boxes, and to anyone who has served in the conflict.

  • 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medal: Available for all personnel who served in Vietnam from 1959 through 1975. The medal itself memorializes 50 years since the conflict started.
  • Gulf of Tonkin Commemorative Medal: Available for all who served in gulf of Tonkin, also known as Tonkin Yacht Club, from 1959-1975. The medallion features a large ship with ‘Gulf of Tonkin’ above it and a bamboo designed border around the medallion.
  • Republic of Vietnam Service Commemorative: Honors those who served in the Republic of Vietnam or supplied support from Thailand, Guam, Okinawa, of the Philippines from 1962-1975. The medallion has a fire-breathing dragon and bamboo. The top reads ‘Republic of Vietnam Defense 1962-1975’, and below the dragon reads ‘Commemorating Service in Defense of Vietnam’.
  • TET Campaign Commemorative Medal: Honors all military personnel who served in any phases of the TET Campaign in 1968. The medallion reads “Republic of Vietnam Military Forces” in Vietnamese arched over a flaming sword and has “TET Campaign Commemorative” at the bottom.

Commemorative Certificates for Vietnam Awards

Medals of America also offers multiple commemorative certificates highlighting the achievements of service in Vietnam. They are customizable and able to add up to 40 characters (including spaces) on the certificate. The certificates that pertain to Vietnam are:

  • TET Campaign Certificate
  • RVN Civil Actions Unit Citation Certificate
  • Gulf of Tonkin Certificate
  • Vietnam 50th Anniversary Certificate
  • Vietnam Service Certificate
  • Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation Certificate

Medals of America provides high quality medals that are never surplus, always uniform ready, and designed and crafted to military specifications. The medals can be ordered in anodized finish, which is a gold-plated medal typically worn to military balls and galas, and regular finish, which is how the medals were originally awarded.

If you have any questions about the eligibility of your awards they are listed on your DD214, or you can give our Military Awards Specialists a call at 1-800-308-0849. Make sure to have documentation and a DD214 (if available) ready for the Military Award Specialist to help you look over!