South Vietnam Campaign Medal
Vietnam War 1956 - 1975.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
The South Vietnam Campaign Medal was a medal presented by the former country of South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam) for service during the Vietnam War. The medal was instituted in May 1964 and was awarded to members of the United States, Australian, and New Zealand military forces who served six months or more in support of Republic of Vietnam’s military operations.
The Vietnam Campaign Medal was also awarded to any service personnel who, while serving outside the geographical limits of the Republic of Vietnam, provided direct combat support to the Republic of Vietnam armed forces for a period exceeding six months. This criteria most often applied to personnel serving in Thailand or Japan although there are some exceptions.
For those personnel who were wounded by an enemy force, captured by the enemy in the line of duty, or killed in action, the Vietnam Campaign Medal was automatically awarded regardless of time served in Vietnam.
The medal is of a gold six pointed star - with rays - design, 42mm in height and 36mm wide struck in gilt plated bronze. The obverse of this medal features a central green disc superimposed over a white enamelled star upon which is an outline of Vietnam and a red flame made up of three rays situated between North and South Vietnam.
The reverse contains a circle with a band and the inscription; 'CHIEN-DICH' (meaning campaign) at the top and the inscription; 'BOI-TINH' (meaning medal) at the bottom.
In the middle of the circle is the inscription; 'VIET-NAM'.
The ribbon is attached by way of a trough shaped ‘ringlet’ attached to the tip of upper central star.
The recipient's details can be found either impressed or engraved on the medal's reverse.
The ribbon is 36mm wide and is green in colour with three white strips.
This medal was issued with the following bars:-
Awarded for service in the Republic Of Vietnam in operations against insurgents in South Vietnam (the Viet Cong) and the forces of North Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam).
Known as the ‘1960 Bar’, it displays the date of 1960 followed by a dash and a blank space.
The unusual appearance was caused by the government of the Republic of 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 the North.
Since South Vietnam fell, and the government ceased to exist, an ending date for the 1960 Bar was never established.
1949 - 1954
In addition to the 1960 Bar, the Republic of Vietnam armed forces memorandum 2655 prescribed a second device for service between 8 March 1949 and 20 July 1954.
Australian and New Zealand military forces have never been authorized to wear it, but since this was during the French colonial period it is unlikely that any would have been eligible.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
South Vietnam Campaign Medal **
* It should be noted that the values quoted above reflect the average price that a medal dealer may expect to sell this medal for - please see the ‘things you should know’ web page for more details about valuing medals.
** The individual medal value will vary considerably based on the recipient’s details.
Further Historical Context
This section contains information on:-
- The Vietnam War.
The Vietnam War - The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, was a Cold War-era proxy war that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from December 1956 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.
This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam-supported by the Soviet Union, China and other communist allies-and the government of South Vietnam-supported by the United States and other anti-communist countries.
The Viet Cong (also known as the National Liberation Front, or NLF), a lightly armed South Vietnamese communist common front directed by the North, fought a guerrilla war against anti-communist forces in the region. The People's Army of Vietnam (a.k.a. the North Vietnamese Army) engaged in a more conventional war, at times committing large units into battle.
As the war wore on, the part of the Viet Cong in the fighting decreased as the role of the NVA grew. U.S. and South Vietnamese forces relied on air superiority and overwhelming firepower to conduct search and destroy operations, involving ground forces, artillery, and airstrikes. In the course of the war, the U.S. conducted a large-scale strategic bombing campaign against North Vietnam, and over time the North Vietnamese airspace became the most heavily defended airspace of any in the world.
The U.S. viewed American involvement in the war as a way to prevent a Communist takeover of South Vietnam. This was part of a wider strategy of containment, which aimed at stopping the spread of communism. According to the U.S. domino theory, if one state went Communist, other states in the region would follow, and U.S. policy thus held that accommodation to the spread of Communist rule across all of Vietnam was unacceptable.
The North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong were fighting to reunify Vietnam under communist rule. They viewed the conflict as a colonial war, fought initially against forces from France and then America, as France was backed by the U.S., and later against South Vietnam, which it regarded as a U.S. puppet state.
Beginning in 1950, American military advisors arrived in what was then French Indochina. U.S. involvement escalated in the early 1960s, with troop levels tripling in 1961 and again in 1962. U.S. involvement escalated further following the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, in which a U.S. destroyer clashed with North Vietnamese fast attack craft, which was followed by the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which gave the U.S. president authorization to increase U.S. military presence.
Regular U.S. combat units were deployed beginning in 1965. Operations crossed international borders: bordering areas of Laos and Cambodia were heavily bombed by U.S. forces as American involvement in the war peaked in 1968, the same year that the Communist side launched the Tet Offensive.
The Tet Offensive failed in its goal of overthrowing the South Vietnamese government but became the turning point in the war, as it showed that South Vietnam was unable to fend for itself against the North, despite many years of massive U.S. military aid.
As the point of U.S. victory was indeterminate, U.S. ground forces were gradually withdrawn as part of a policy known as Vietnamization, which aimed to end American involvement in the war while transferring the task of fighting the Communists to the South Vietnamese themselves. Despite the Paris Peace Accords, which was signed by all parties in January 1973, the fighting continued.
In the U.S. and the Western world, a large anti-Vietnam War movement developed. This movement was both part of a larger Counterculture of the 1960s and also fed into it.
Direct U.S. military involvement ended on 15 August 1973 as a result of the Case-Church Amendment passed by the U.S. Congress. The capture of Saigon at the hands of the North Vietnamese Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year.
The war exacted a huge human cost in terms of fatalities. Estimates of the number of Vietnamese service members and civilians killed vary from 800,000 to 3.1 million. Some 200,000 - 300,000 Cambodians, 20,000 - 200,000 Laotians, and 58,220 U.S. service members also died in the conflict.