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Vietnam Campaign Medal

The Vietnam Campaign Medal is a military recognition awarded for service South Vietnam. Established in 1966, the decoration is a service medal of the Vietnam War and was the most commonly bestowed foreign military award to the United States military personnel prior to the Gulf War.[citation needed] The Vietnam Campaign Medal is awarded to any member of the United States military who completed at least six months of duty in the Republic of Vietnam between the dates of March 1, 1961 and March 28, 1973. This eligibility period was later amended by a 2003 Defense Authorization Act to include service in Operation Frequent Wind.[citation needed]

The decoration may also be awarded to any service member who, while serving outside the geographical limits of South Vietnam, provided direct combat support to the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces for a period exceeding six months. This stipulation most often applies to U.S. service members who performed Vietnam War support from Thailand and Japan. In such cases, a service member must have been awarded either the Vietnam Service Medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (for service in a Vietnam campaign) to be eligible for the Vietnam Campaign Medal.

For those U.S. service members who were wounded by an enemy force, captured by the enemy in the line of duty, or killed in action, the Vietnam Campaign Medal is automatically awarded regardless of total time served in Vietnam.

The Vietnam Campaign Medal is issued with a device known as the “1960 Bar”. The bar displays the date of 1960 followed by a dash and a blank space. The unusual appearance was caused by the government of South Vietnam stating that the 1960 bar would show the dates of the Vietnam War from start to finish, with the ending date placed on the 1960 bar after the South Vietnamese had triumphed over North Vietnam. Since South Vietnam fell, and the government ceased to exist, an ending date for the 1960 Bar was never established.

In addition to the 1960 Bar, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Memorandum 2655 prescribed a second device. This other one was for service during the period 8 March 1949 - 20 July 1954. American military personnel have never been authorized to wear it, but since this was during the French colonial period it is unlikely that many would have been eligible.

The United States military currently issues the Vietnam Campaign Medal, for veterans of the Vietnam war, but only provides a ribbon with 1960 bar. The actual medal is no longer issued except by private dealers in military insignia. The Vietnam Campaign Medal is considered a foreign award by the U.S. government, with the U.S. equivalent award known as the Vietnam Service Medal.

Other frequently bestowed Vietnam awards include the Vietnam Civil Actions Medal and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross, both of which were awarded extensively to both Vietnamese military service members and to the members of foreign militaries.