Awards and decorations of the Vietnam War

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Awards and decorations of the Vietnam War were military decorations which were bestowed by the major warring parties during the years of the Vietnam War. North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the United States all issued awards and decorations during the conflict.

In the modern age, many senior U.S. military leaders can still be seen wearing South Vietnam awards which were earned during service in the Vietnam War. As South Vietnam as a country no longer exists, such awards are actually considered obsolete and may only be privately purchased from dealers in military insignia.

A listing of the most commonly bestowed Vietnam war era decorations is as follows:

South Vietnam[edit]

Senior Leadership Decorations

Heroism Decorations

Common Decorations

Unit Citations

Other Awards

North Vietnam[edit]

United States[edit]

Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor ribbon.svg
Distinguished Service Cross
(Navy Cross, Airforce Cross)
Army distinguished service cross medal.png
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon.svg
Silver StarLegion of MeritDistinguished
Flying Cross
Service Medal
Us legion of merit legionnaire.png
Meritorious Service Medal (United States).png
Silver Star ribbon.svg
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Bronze Star MedalPurple HeartAir MedalVietnam Service MedalArmed Forces
Expeditionary Medal
National Defense
Service Medal
Bronze Star medal.jpg
Air Medal front.jpg
AFEM - 2.png
Bronze Star ribbon.svg
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Air Medal ribbon.svg
Vietnam Service Ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg

Several decorations (Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal, Copmmendation Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal) may be awarded for Valor, or for Merit. Awards for Valor recognize bravery in action against an enemy and have an attached "V" device Valor device. Awards for Merit recognize service.

The Commendation Medal was another decoration of the Vietnam War, issued frequently in various versions by the different branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

Australia and New Zealand awarded British and Commonwealth orders and decorations to their servicemen in Vietnam, including the Distinguished Service Order, and the Military Cross.

Australia and New Zealand jointly developed and instituted The Vietnam Medal (though separate Royal Warrants were issued). The obverse of the medal displays an Effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, the reverse shows a man standing between two spheres, a symbolic representation of the ideological struggle. The ribbon incorporates the colours of the three armed services (Red, Navy Blue, and Sky Blue), and the national colours of Vietnam (Red and Yellow).

New Zealand Defence Force Vietnam Medal Page

In 1992, Australia struck the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal. The medal was intended to recognise the Australian servicemen and civilians who provided support for Australian troops. The qualifying criteria for the Medal are service of one day or more as a member or crew of a ship or aircraft operating in the prescribed area of operations of Vietnam in support of Australian forces, or service of one day or more within the prescribed area of operations of Vietnam while attached to a unit or organisation in support of Australian forces.

It has been awarded to military personnel, Qantas crews, civilian medical personnel, and Embassy staff.

Australian Government Campaign Medals page

Australia awarded 4 Victoria Crosses during the Vietnam War (List of Vietnam War Victoria Cross recipients), 2 posthumously.

Australian servicemen were also awarded a large number of individual US and South Vietnamese awards, and the following unit citations: