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Difference Between Service Medals And Campaign Medals?

Started by seanmc1114 , Aug 03 2011 02:09 PM

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#1 seanmc1114

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:09 PM

Is there any significance to designating certain medals as "Service Medals" and others as "Campaign Medals"? For example, before World War I we had the Philippine Campaign and Mexican Service Medals among others. Why were the theater medals from WWII designated as campaign medals (Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, American Campaign) as opposed to the American Defense Service Medal? Later we had the Korean Service, Vietnam Service, National Defense Service and Southwest Asia Service Medals, for example, but now we have the Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals.

#2 Fred Borgmann

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 02:18 PM

Is there any significance to designating certain medals as "Service Medals" and others as "Campaign Medals"? For example, before World War I we had the Philippine Campaign and Mexican Service Medals among others. Why were the theater medals from WWII designated as campaign medals (Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, American Campaign) as opposed to the American Defense Service Medal? Later we had the Korean Service, Vietnam Service, National Defense Service and Southwest Asia Service Medals, for example, but now we have the Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals.

Just a guess on my part but I think "service" was used for military actions in undeclared wars.

#3 hawk3370

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 03:40 PM

A service medal is awarded for the service of an individual for example the WW2 Victory is awarded for a specific period of service performed on or before 31 Dec 1946. Where as a campaign medal is an award for having participated in a specific battle engagement or campaign. Due to so many battles, engagements and campaigns during both wars the design of individual medals for each battle would have been an enormous task for designers, sculptors etc. As a result WW1 produced only one campaign medal, the Victory Medal with campaign bars, and WW2 produced only three campaign medals, the American, the Asiatic-Pacific and European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign medals.
Hope this helps.

Terry

Edited by hawk3370, 03 August 2011 - 03:42 PM.


#4 PaulR

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 03:49 PM

A campaign medal is a type of service medal. It is awarded for service in a certain campaign.

There are three major types of military awards:

1. Personal Decorations- Awarded for personal feats and accomplishments.
examples include the Silver Star, Purple Heart, Commendation Medal, Achievement Medal, and etc.

2. Unit Decorations- Awarded for feats and accomplishments of a collective unit.
examples include the Meritorious Unit Commendation, Unit Commendation, Joint Services Unit Commendation, and etc

3. Service Awards- Awarded for participation of a certain event for a certain amount of time.
examples include campaign, good conduct, and other service medals(Humanitarian and etc).

Edited by PaulR, 03 August 2011 - 03:54 PM.


#5 seanmc1114

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 05:52 AM

I appreciate the answers, but I'm still not sure I understand the distinction. For instance, why were the wars in Korea, Vietnam and Southwest Asia (Desert Shield and Storm) recognized by "service medals" with campaign stars which were only authorized to those who served in the specific theater of operations (or offshore or overhead in some case), while for the exact same situations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, the specific medals are referred to as "campaign medals"? I cannot see any difference. Someone suggested the difference was to distinguish declared wars vs. undeclared wars but that distinction clearly does not apply in the examples I gave.

As specific as the Institute Of Heraldry is on the meaning of all of the symbolism on the pendants and ribbons of the medals themselves, surely there has to be some symbolism for the naming of the medals by referring to some medals as "service" and others as "campaign".

#6 Tim B

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 12:45 AM

Hi,

Both Terry and Paul are correct in their statements and examples given.

By definition; a campaign or service award is an award issued to an individual to denote participation in a campaign, war, national emergency or expedition, or to denote service requirements fulfilled in a creditable manner.

If we use some past examples here:

Good Conduct Medals are awarded to individuals after meeting certain service time and performance (conduct) requirements. If you maintain the standards, you earn the award.

The American Defense Service, WWII Victory, and National Defense Service Medals are all general type service medals. They apply to everyone that was in uniform serving at the time (active duty, certain reserves, midshipmen, etc.) but not someone say that was just entering and undergoing physical exams, or members that might have been on a short term temporary type duty. Didn't matter where you were in the world or what specific assignment you had, if you were serving in the armed forces, you became eligible for the award. In the case of the American Defense Service Medal, if you were assigned to specific areas or types of assignment, you could be eligible to wear that appropriate service clasp. An example would be the "Fleet" clasp for serving onboard vessels on the high seas.

Another type of service medal relates specifically to a specific type of duty assigment, like the Navy Recruiter Service Ribbon, or a specific action that requires active participation by a component of the armed forces in an emergency that may not be directly related to a military type role. The Humanitarian Service Medal is a good case in point and would apply to members of units that had to provide aid or other type of support or service.

Then, there are service medals like the Occupation, China, Korean, Vietnam, and Southwest Asia Service Medals where you had to be serving within a certain geographical area or "area of operation" during a specific timeframe to qualify. These type service medals are more "theatre type medals" as compared to those that are more general in nature. Again, didn't matter what your job was exactly, as long as you were not on a temporary type of assignment or just there for say, training, you were eligible for the basic medal. For those personnel that were actively involved in any designated campaigns (actual combat), they were entitled to wear campaign or engagement stars to denote those members participated in limited time frame actions that were considered significant in that particular conflict. The authorized campaigns/engagements will be listed along with the units that qualified for each. If your were assigned to an eligible unit and participated in the "event" you were entitled to that star. These medals were normally established to meet a mission that may develop into an armed conflict.

Now, things get a little muddy at this point and we're coming more to the specifics of what you are asking.

Campaign Medals are medals that are usually established and awarded for actions where you can expect armed conflict or engagement with an enemy. The key is expectation of an opposing armed force. You can be directly involved in combat or in support of troops and still be eligible.

Keep a couple things in mind here, regulations stipulate that no two medals can be given for exactly the same thing and these medals shall only be awarded for operations for which no other U.S. campaign/service medal is approved. We see this when U.S. forces first entered Vietnam and the Vietnam Service Medal had not yet been established. Armed Forces personnel were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal. However, once the Vietnam Service Medal was established, those members that previously qualified for the AFEM could exchange it for the new VSM but could not wear both for the same period of service.

The American Defense Service Medal closed on December 7th, 1941. So, during WWII, there were no actual service medals established for "WWII Service". As the U.S. was fighting in two separate and specific areas of conflict and broad areas of ocean on both sides were inherently dangerous due to naval force attacks (primarily submarine attack), three specific campaign areas were established; American Theatre, Asiatic-Pacific, and European, African, Middle-Eastern Campaigns. Each area had campaign stars authorized as the war progressed and a final list was promugated at the end. It should be noted here, that some campaign stars actually had more than one specific engagement or operation and being a part of just one or several of those operations still only entitled the wearer to only one star for that specific campaign.

So, modern issued medals like the Armed Forces Service Medal, are theatre type service medals that can be earned for military type missions as well as humanitarian missions. Expeditionary medals were issued where armed conflict was anticipated and no other service or campaign medal currently existed for that specific area of operation. When we invaded Iraq, we expected armed conflict and engagement with an enemy, so the Iraqi Campaign (not service) Medal was established and again, members previously issued the expeditionary medal could exchange it for the Iraq medal but were not authorized both. Same for Afghanistan. Each had it's own designated campaigns which stars were authorized.

So, look at the other areas you mentioned above, like Kosovo, and ask what nomenclature is correct.

I hope this helps answer your question. Clear as mud, uh!? :blink: :lol:

Tim

#7 seanmc1114

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 04:34 AM

Tim B, I understand your rationale but I still don't think it completely addresses the issue although it may be beating a dead horse to assume there is a correct answer to the question. I can grasp the difference between a campaign medal and a service medal such as the example of the National Defense Service Medal recognizing active duty service anywhere in the world during a particular period while the Iraqi Campaign Medal only recognizes those serving in the specifically defined Iraqi theater of war. What I still can't distinguish is, for example, why we have the Vietnam Service Medal which recognizes service in a specific war zone while we have the Afghanistan Campaign Medal. So far as I know, everyone serving in Vietnam during the war received hostile fire pay, regardless of whether they were humping the boonies or sitting behind a desk in Saigon. On the other hand, some folks who earned the Asiatic-Pacific or European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medals during WWII served in areas where they were no more likely to be involved in enemy action than someone serving in the Pentagon.

#8 Tim B

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Posted 06 August 2011 - 10:35 AM

I meant to add a bit more last night but wanted to stop and go to bed. I also wanted to give time for others to come into the discussion.

I think if you look at these and take into account what our relationship was to the host country/government at the time, it might start to make more sense.

Looking at the Korean and Vietnam Service Medals, we were there in support or service to those host country's government. We had mutual interests in preventing the spread of communism in those areas and the southern governments were asking for support. Conflict eventually broke out for U.S forces and campaign stars were added to the existing service medals. Of course, time where hostilities actually broke out in Korea was almost immediate.

In Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, we were not supporting those active governments and invaded both Afghanistan and Iraq to overthow either the Taliban or Hussein regimes. In this case, though I would have figured we would have simply added campaign stars to the current Southwest Asia Service Medal, they elected to issue first expeditionary medals, then the two specific campaign medals for those two Operations.

So, the Afghanistan and Iraqi medals are campaign medals as we elected to go into those countries, not in support or service, but to intervene for interests outside of those country governments and no prior service medal existed.

We can look back in history and see similar practice.

In WWI, as previously stated, there were no general type service medals issued for service during the war. Of course, the U.S. was actively involved in WWI for less than a full year (1918) despite the war starting four years earlier. There were some components that were in as early as 1917 and some citizens that fought for foreign countries, but we weren't there in force until roughly mid-1918. So, probably a service medal didn't have time to come to thought. Instead, we used a series of clasp to the U.S. version of the WWI Victory Medal.

If you were in armed forces uniform, you rated the victory medal, despite your physical location or duty assignment. If you were abroad in service to the war but not actually involved in combat, you rated the specific "country" or service clasp (I/e: France, England, Italy, etc.). If you were involved in combat and participated in specific campaigns, then you rated a campaign clasp, along with the "Defensive Sector" clasp for each designated campaign. You could not wear country (service) and campaign clasps on the same medal. So, for some, it was meant as a service medal, for others, it was more of a campaign medal.

Looking back to even earlier examples, if we look at the Mexican Service Medal, we were in decent relations with the Mexican goverment till around 1900 but, as political unrest increased over the next few years and unrest led to a coup where General Huerta seized power (1910?) the region stability and relations with the U.S. government decreased until 1913 where we went in to establish a naval presence. There were incidents that led to minor fighting and in 1914 we additionally learned Germany was transporting war material into Mexico. We then occupied Vera Cruz and never left until 1917. So the service medal encompased service for units on shore and aboard ships that were there during the period.

If we look at the Nicaraguan Campaign Medal, the U.S. did not have good relations with the sitting government under President Jose Zelaya and that government was most bothersome to the U.S. The region became very unstable and a real threat to the stability of the entire Central American region. When the city of Bluefields revolted against Zelaya's army, we went in. Eventually Zelaya was overthrown and put into exile while a new government under Adolofo Diaz was installed. Eventually, Zelaya came back and overthrew the Diaz govenment and we went back in to restore order to the Diaz government.

Best I can do here (Sean?), hope you can see what is a determining factor on these. :thumbsup:

Tim

Edited by Tim B, 06 August 2011 - 10:37 AM.



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