The purpose of this page is to assist veterans in obtaining medals and ribbons due them as a result of their direct participation with units which may have been awarded commendations, citations, or awards during the Vietnam war.
Unit awards were often granted after a veteran left the service and in many cases recognition of the unit awards never made its way into the veteran’s DD-214. This means it is up to the veteran to now apply for the awards he may not have previously received. It is also possible for the veteran to apply at the same time for copies of medals and ribbons which are listed on his form DD214N. In general, the process is fairly straight forward, although sometimes lengthy. It may take 4-6 months for the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) personnel to respond to your request. Armed with the right information, you may increase your chances of success on the first try. Our goal is to provide you with as much information as possible on this process.
Here is information on where to apply for a unit award you feel you deserve. (Don’t forget to hit your browser’s “Back” button to return to this page). It will be up to you to provide the evidence to the records center which will convince them you actually deserve the award. Here are the items we suggest you include in your request:
1. A completed Form 180 request form. Click HERE for information on filling out printing out a Form 180 online. Be sure to stay on the Form 180 until all of your information is inputted. Otherwise you will lose what you have typed in. When finished click FILE on your web browser toolbar and then click PRINT. Be sure to print at least (2) documents so you will have one for your file.
2. A copy of your Form DD214N.
3. Copies of citations for unit awards you believe you are qualified to receive. See the unit awards below for links to pages which contain text for the citations. You should be able to print the citation text.
4. A cover letter outlining what you are requesting, i.e., unit awards, foreign awards, and/or copies of awards listed on your Form DD214N. It will be important in this letter to reconstruct your time in country. Many times personnel were transferred from one unit to another and this information may not necessarily be reflected in your service record. A clarification in your letter may help because all of the unit awards were based on service with particular groups or units for certain time periods. It may also be helpful to review the language of the citation to see if you think you participated in the action for which the unit award was granted. Be sure to include your full name, a mailing address, phone numbers, your service number and your social security number in your letter in the event it gets separated from your Form 180 and Form DD214. We don’t have lists of specific units for the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color, with Palm. Like the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation, Cross of Gallantry Medal Color, with Palm, it was awarded to individual units during the war, but then towards the end of the war both unit citations were awarded to ALL “in-country” veterans. The “Palm” denotes a “unit” award. See more information below.
When you are successful you will receive an upgraded Form DD215 to be attached to original Form DD214N. You will also receive a transmittal letter telling what medals and ribbons the Navy is including in the package as well as a list of awards for which you may be eligible but for which the Navy does not provide the actual award because it was issued by a foreign government. You will have to purchase those ribbons and medals yourself. Included below is a list of possible suppliers. The MRFA does not endorse any particular supplier. The transmittal letter is usually folded and placed in a slot on the outside of the manila envelope with your return address showing. Pull it out of the slot to see what you have been awarded. It will not be inside the envelope so it would be easy to throw it away without even knowing it’s there.
A couple of words of caution: The Navy wears all “unit” ribbons on the left breast in a main ribbon cluster. When ordering be sure to ask for the Navy metal bracket that surrounds the RVNGC and RVNCA ribbons. The Army bracket is larger because they wear their “unit” ribbons on the right breast. Also, sometimes the devices to be attached to the ribbons or medals are thrown loosely into your package. Be sure you inspect the contents thoroughly before tossing your packing material.
After you receive your medals why not make a point of sharing the news with a loved one or friend. The package you receive in a less than ceremonious way contains items which may be important for you to bring a little greater sense of closure to a chapter in your life for which you can be proud. Your loved ones and friends will appreciate your efforts in a new found way. You can rest assured that you have a lot of brothers and sisters in this association who recognize and respect your contributions and thank you for a job well done! We hereby congratulate you on the receipt of your unit awards and other medals and ribbons you so richly deserve.
Description of Unit Awards – Navy
Presidential Unit Citation
Awarded in the name of the President of the United States to units of the Armed Forces of the United States and co-belligerent nations for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. The unit must have displayed such gallantry, determination and esprit de corps in accomplishing its mission under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions to have set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The degree of heroism required is the same as that which would be required for award of the Navy Cross Medal to an individual.
Authorization: Executive Order 9050, 6 February 1942
Navy Unit Commendation
Awarded by the Secretary of the Navy to any unit the Navy or Marine Corps which has distinguished itself by outstanding heroism in action against the enemy, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Presidential Unit Citation; or to any such unit which has distinguished itself by extremely meritorious service not involving combat but in support of military operations, rendering the unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service. To justify this award, the unit must have performed service of the character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Silver Star Medal for heroism or a Legion of Merit for meritorious service to an individual.
Authorization: ALNAV 224 of 18 December 1944
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
Awarded by SECNAV, CNO or CMC to any unit of the Navy or Marine Corps which has distinguished itself, under combat or non-combat conditions, by either valorous or meritorious achievement which renders the unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Navy Unit Commendation. To justify this award, the unit mush have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of the Bronze Star Medal, or achievement of like caliber in a non-combat situation, to an individual.
Authorization: SECNAV Notice 1650 of 17 July 1967
The (2) RVN awards below are “Ribbon Only” awards – The Medal is issued when citing an “individual”. The Navy Uniform Regulation states the following:
“c. Wear gold frames with the Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation of the Gallantry Cross and Civil Action with palm. The palm for this award measures 9/16 inch in length with a 1/8 inch stem and four front leaves attached like a branch. No medal is authorized for this citation. The stem of the palm is to the wearer’s right.”
Click HERE for the above quote provided by the “Naval Personnel Command” (Under – “5319. MISCELLANEOUS DEVICES”)
Click HERE for the above quote provided by the “Marine Corps Uniform Regulations” – (Under – “8. Campaign and Service Awards.”)
Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation (Gallantry Cross Medal Color, with Palm)
In addition to those specific units listed, all Navy and Marine Corps personnel who served “in-country” Vietnam during the period 08 Feb 62 – 28 Mar are eligible since the Republic of Vietnam Government awarded it to Commander, U.S. Forces Vietnam and all subordinate units.
SECNAVINST 1650.1H – Click HERE – Then go to Page 7-5.
Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit (Civil Actions Medal, First Class Color, with Palm)
In addition to those specific units listed, all Navy and Marine Corps personnel who served “in-country” Vietnam during the period 01 Jan 65 – 28 Mar 73 are eligible since the Republic of Vietnam Government awarded it to Commander, U.S. Forces Vietnam and all subordinate units.
SECNAVINST 1650.1H – Click HERE – Then go to Page 7-5.
Notes pertinent to the display of certain medals and ribbons
1.6 Miscellaneous information
a. Not more than one Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation will be worn by any individual. This precludes wear of the Vietnamese Fourragere which represents additional unit awards of the RVN Gallantry Cross. Although wear of multiple awards of this unit citation badge is not authorized, official military personnel and historical records will indicate all awards received. In those instances, however, where a single unit received duplicate Vietnamese unit awards during the same period only one will be recorded in official military personnel and historical records. As an illustration, Battery D, 5th Battalion, 2d Artillery, was awarded the RVN Gallantry Cross with Palm during the following periods: 1 September 1968 to 15 March 1969 and 1 September 1968 to 30 September 1970. Members of this unit, who were assigned during either of these two periods, are eligible for only one award.
b. RVN Gallantry Cross Unit Citation takes precedence over the RVN Civil Actions Unit Citation and is beneath all United States unit citations, the Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, and Vietnam Presidential Unit Citation. Where an individual has been assigned to a unit which was cited by two or more military command levels of the Republic of Vietnam, the appurtenance worn will be that of the highest level. Only one appurtenance will be worn on each badge. The RVN Gallantry Cross was awarded by the Vietnamese Government for valorous combat achievement in four degrees, as follows:
(1) With Palm – To a unit which is cited before the Armed Forces.
(2) With Gold Star – To a unit which is cited before a Corps.
(3) With Silver Star – To a unit which is cited before a Division.
(4) With Bronze Star – To a unit which is cited before a Regiment/Brigade.
Searching for Your Personal Navy Unit Awards
1) Go to the NDAWS website
2) Click on “Unit Awards” in the tool menu
3) Click on “Query Unit Awards” in the upper right hand corner
4) Type in the first 4 characters of your Ship/Unit
5) Select your Ship/Unit from the list
OR go to THIS website and do the same: – To download this file to you hard drive: Open the file and click on FILE and then SAVE AS in your Browser toolbar. Save to your location on your hard drive.
PUC = Presidential Unit Citation
NUC = Navy Unit Commendation
MUC = Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
VS = Vietnam Service Medal
RG = Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Medal, Color, with Palm
AE = Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
HM = Humanitarian Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
The Vietnam Service Medal is not a “unit” award but we feel it is important to clear up some concepts regarding “campaigns” related to the award. It is a United States issued medal/ribbon. There is also a Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with 60’s Device issued by the former South Vietnamese government. It says “campaign” but it infers the entire Vietnam War.
Authorized on July 19, 1965 and awarded to all service members of the Armed Forces of the United States who, between July 4, 1965 and March 28, 1973, served in Vietnam and the contiguous waters, and airspace, in Thailand, Laos or Cambodia or airspace in direct support of military operations in Vietnam.
Many of us were led to believe that campaigns like “Operation Game Warden“, “Operation SEALORDS“, “Operation Giant Slingshot“, etc. were the campaigns that we used to place service stars on our Vietnam Service Medal. This is erroneous. There are (18) “Named Campaign Periods” that denote the service stars. If you served at least 1 day in any period it warrants “campaign“.
SECNAV Instruction 1650.1H – Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual
“c. Engagement Stars. A 3/16 inch bronze star is authorized for wear on the suspension ribbon and ribbon bar of the VSM for each of the following campaigns:”
Here are the Named Campaigns:
1) Vietnam Advisory Campaign – 15 March 1962 – 7 March 1965
2) Vietnam Defense Campaign – 8 March – 24 December 1965
3) Vietnamese Counteroffensive – 25 December 1965 – 30 June 1966
4) Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase II – 1 July 1966 – 31 May 1967
5) Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase III – 1 June 1967 – 29 January 1968
6) Tet Counteroffensive – 30 January – 1 April 1968
7) Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase IV – 2 April – 30 June 1968
8] Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase V – 1 July – 1 November 1968
9) Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase VI – 2 November 1968 – 22 February 1969
10) Tet 69/Counteroffensive – 23 February – 8 June 1969
11) Vietnam Summer – Fall 1969 – 9 June – 31 October 1969
12) Vietnam Winter – Spring 1970 – 1 November 1969 – 30 April 1970
13) Sanctuary Counteroffensive – 1 May – 30 June 1970
14) Vietnamese Counteroffensive Phase VII – 1 July 1970 – 30 June 1971
15) Consolidation I – 1 July 1971 – 30 November 1971
16) Consolidation II – 1 December 1971 – 29 March 1972
17) Vietnam Ceasefire Campaign – 30 March 1972 – 28 January 1973
18) Operation FREQUENT WIND – 29 April – 30 April 1975
Note: (5) Named Campaigns are denoted by a 3/16″ silver service star.
To read a description of each Named Campaign visit THIS website.
Small Craft Insignia
(Enlisted/Silver – Officer/Gold)
Governing Directive: NAVPERS 15665I, U. S. Navy Uniform Regulations
1. Qualifications as a Result of Service in the Republic of Vietnam Under Combat
a. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) (N86) authorized the Small Craft Insignia for junior officers and senior petty officers who had served as officer in charge (OIC) of Riverine or Coastal Craft, under combat conditions, in the Republic of Vietnam.
b. Personnel who served for a minimum of 6 months as OIC, patrol officer (commissioned or enlisted), river section leader, boat officer, or petty officer in charge (POIC) of the following craft are eligible to wear the insignia:
Patrol Boat River (PBR)
Patrol Boat Fast (PCF)
Strike Assault Boats (STABS)
Seal Support Craft (HSSC, MSSC, LSSC)
Harbor Defense Craft
Logistic Support Craft (LCU, LCM, YFU)
River Assault Craft
c. U.S. Navy personnel who served as advisors to the Vietnamese Navy personnel in an “in-charge” position, and officers and enlisted whose units were turned over to the Vietnamese Navy before they had acquired the requisite 6 months eligibility as stated above, are authorized to wear the insignia provided the total operational time and advisory time on the craft equal 6 or more months.
2. Eligible Units. Those personnel who meet the criteria described above, and served with the following units, were established as being authorized the Small Craft Insignia:
RIVFLOT ONE (RAS 9, 11, 13, 15)
Naval Special Warfare Group, Vietnam
MIDIV 112 and 113
NSA DANANG and SAIGON
Inshore Undersea Warfare Group One
Naval Advisory Group, RVN
3. Eligibility Requirements Established After 1 Oct 84
a. Members who served in an OIC or POIC billet for a minimum of 6 months, and have completed the appropriate Personnel Qualification Standard (PQS) in one of the following platforms are authorized by CNO to wear the Small Craft Insignia:
Logistical Support Craft (LCU, LCM)
Seaborne Powered Target Craft (SEPTAR) (QST-33/35)
MKV Special Operations Craft (SOC)
Patrol Boat (PB, PBM, PBR, PCF)
Strike Assault Boat (STAB)
Special Warfare Craft (SWCL)
Armored Troop Carrier (ATC)
Surface Effect Craft (AGEH, LCAC, PCH, PGH, SES)
High Speed Boat (HSB)
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat (RHIB) permanently assigned to support SEAL Team operations or Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadrons or High Speed Maneuverable Seaborne Target (HSMST) operations. Small Waterplane Area Twin Hull (SWATH) (MHS-1) assigned to support EOD Mobile Units
b. Personnel who qualified prior to 1 July 1992 while assigned to a Yard Patrol (YP) or Craft of Opportunity (COOP) Trainer craft are authorized to continue to wear the insignia.
NOTE: All “grandfather” periods for previous qualification have expired. No further “grandfather” qualification requests will be considered.
4. Wearing Small Craft Insignia. The Small Craft Insignia shall be worn as authorized in NAVPERS 15665I.
Mobile Riverine Force Navy Unit Awards List
See THIS PAGE for a list of Navy Unit Awards, and links to citations that we have on hand. Your help is needed! If there is no link for a citation for a particular award, it means we need it so that it can be typed and added to this site. Please contact our Webmaster, Mike Harris (firstname.lastname@example.org) If you are aware of any Navy unit awards for Vietnam that are not included on the lists, contact Mike with the information.
Sources for Purchasing Medals and Ribbons
The association does not endorse the goods or services provided by the suppliers listed below. We merely provide this information for your convenience.
Medals of America, 1929 Fairview Road, Fountain Inn, SC 29644, (864) 862-6425 or (800) 308-0849, Fax number (800) 407-8640
National Capitol Historic Sales, P.O. Box 605, Springfield, VA 22150, (703) 569-6663
Graco Industries, P.O. Box 27, Tomball, TX 77375, (281) 255-2161
Overloard Military Collection, 3008 Woodson, St. Louis, MO 63114, (314) 423-6644
Vets Supply Line, 10650 County Road 81, Suite 131, Maple Grove, MN 55369, (612) 425-0911 Fax number (612) 425-2577 Order Line (800) 864-5062
Quartermaster, 750 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90813, (800) 444-8643
H.J. Saunder, P.O. Box 3133, Naples, FL 33939, (941) 775-2100
“12 O’Clock High” Inc., 265 N.E. 2nd Ave., Delray Beach, FL 33444 (800) 821-7978 Fax (561) 265-7211
Military Medals and Insignias, 134 Burton Circle, Gastonia, NC 28054, (704) 824-3026 Fax: (704) 824-4760