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Coast Guard Group w/ LOM for Vietnam Combat


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This was one of those impulse ebay buys that turned out much better than expected. The group was listed by a general antiques picker who doesn’t know anything about militaria, and the picture was just a pile of items on a table that looked like they had been dumped out of a box and photographed with a cell phone. I thought the price was too high (in hindsight, it wasn’t), but “best offer” was available so I offered him about a third of his asking price and he took it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, until the items arrived. I still have a bit of a mystery, though, which I’ll ask about at the end.

 

Axel John Hagstrom (known through the Coast Guard as “Axel Jack”) was born in Iron Mountain, Michigan and enlisted in the Coast Guard on October 31, 1946, from Nashotah, Wisconsin. He served as an enlisted man, serving during the Korean War, until entering OCS in February, 1956. He received a commission as a LTJG in November, 1957. He volunteered to serve in Vietnam and saw extensive duty there. He served on six different Coast Guard ships, commanding three of them (USCGC Campbell, USCGC Jarvis, USCGC Balsam).

 

He was awarded the Legion Of Merit with combat “V” device for his actions during Operation Market Time, the effort to stop infiltration of Viet Cong supplies into South Vietnam.

 

He apparently received a Bronze Star. It is listed on his final DD-214 and on his headstone, but there is no citation for it in the file I received, nor is there a Bronze Star medal either in the full size or miniatures. This is a bit of a mystery.

 

He received three awards of the Coast Guard Commendation Medal with the Operational “O” device. The first generation full sized CGCM with the group only has a single gold star, indicating two awards, plus the “O” device.

 

He was authorized to wear the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Medal Color with Palm). No ribbon bars were with the group, so I don’t have this.

 

The Ancient Mariner award was established in 1978 to honor the officer and enlisted Coast Guard Cuttermen who personify the dedication and professionalism associated with long service at sea and have held the distinction of Cuttermen longer than any other officer or enlisted member. The Silver Ancient Mariner is for an enlisted man (or woman) The Golden Ancient Mariner is the officer with the earliest Cutterman rating. Upon its inception, Captain Axel J. Hagstrom became the first Golden Ancient Mariner of the United States Coast Guard, a distinction he held until his retirement in 1984, after 37 years of service.

 

He passed away in 1998 and is buried at Tahoma National Cemetery in King County, Washington. His widow passed in November, 2016 and these items surfaced at the estate sale immediately following her death.

 

The pictures show the full sized and miniature medals included. The Coast Guard Commendation Medals are both the first version, and both are engraved. Also included are his Command-At-Sea Badge, a full size and miniature Cutterman Badge, and a handful of formal dress buttons.

 

I sent off the NPRC for his file. They sent me about 30 pages, with some obvious gaps. I was hoping for a photo, but the cover letter says they did not have one on file. There is no citation for his Bronze Star, though it’s listed on his DD-214 and on his headstone. They also didn’t send the second page of his DD-214, which would have additional awards. I’m sure they just put the file in a sheet feeder on a copier, and pages probably get stuck together that they don’t notice.

 

Overall this was a very interesting group that I wasn’t expecting. The combat-earned Legion of Merit from Vietnam is a great historical touch. I think this may be an earlier set of medals that perhaps he replaced later. I base that on the absence of the Bronze Star and the fact that the CG Commendation medal is a first generation and only has one gold star on it. All the full sized medals except the CGCM have the brooches removed for bar mounting, but they were all loose (the minis are all bar mounted) leading me to think he removed them to build a new rack.

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Outstanding group! I think you are right about the group being an earlier version since the first style commendation lacks the additional stars. The Good Conduct medal is a later variety, however, and should have been the first style and almost certainly named. I really want to know how he qualified for the American Campaign medal with an enlistment date in October 1946, since, if not mistaken, that exceeds the 2 March 1946 end date. Perhaps a family member thought he rated it? Maybe he thought he rated it. He definitely qualified for theVictory medal so it could have been a simple error. Either way, it is one of the better group of medals I have seen in a long time. Maybe someone on the forum can reunite you with the BS.

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Yes, the Good Conduct Medal is the other reason I don't think this was his "primary" rack of medals. The file includes a "citation" (not sure if that's the right term for a GCM) awarding him his first GCM on 30 October 1949. A separate DD-214 is also here for the end of his enlisted service when he entered OCS and that DD-214 says "entitled to Good Conduct Bars for periods ending 10-30-52 and 10-30-55" so he likely had the older style GCM with two bars for a total of 3 awards before he became an officer. You'll notice the GCM mini is the earlier style.

 

You're right on the dates on the American Campaign, but look at his final DD-214 I posted above and it says "American Campaign Ribbon." There's another mystery, but it is on his paperwork.

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Very nice! That is a VERY RARE set,

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Does the LOM has a slot or crimp brooch? Based on the suspension ring it looks like it could be a late 40's USN contract LOM that he was issued in the 60's.

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 years later...

Good Day to all - and to The CaptainsKin -

I had the high honor and distinct privilege of serving under Captain AJ Hagstrom aboard USCGC Jarvis (WHEC-725) (1978-1979).
There was not a finer man - officer or enlisted - aboard the Might J.
Fond memories of the man and our conversations in the ET Shop, over coffee.

Respectfully, until that day we meet again!

Dennis Talluto
USCG Veteran (ET3)
1975-1979

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  • 5 months later...

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