The Vietnam Service Medal is a United States armed forces award, which was awarded to all members of any branch of the US military who served in Vietnam and its adjoining waters between 3 July 1965 and 28 March 1973. Also, those serving in Thailand, Laos, or Cambodia in direct support of operations during the stated time were eligible as well. Only 1 or more days were required to be qualified, with an organization participating in or directly supporting military operations, or aboard a Navy ship directly supporting military operations. For those on aircraft, participation as a crew member was required on one or more flights. Serving on temporary duty for 30 days straight, or 60 days broken up, in Vietnam or contiguous areas also qualified, but the time limit could be waived if the member participated in actual combat operations. Also, personnel who qualified for the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Vietnam between 1 July 1958 and 3 July 1965 could apply to get this medal instead. No individual could get both medals for service in Vietnam.

According to the US Navy historical website, the contiguous waters around Vietnam were identified thus:

"Vietnam and contiguous waters, as used herein, is defined as an area which includes Vietnam and the water adjacent thereto within the following specified limits: From a point on the East Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with China southeastward to 21 N. Latitude, 108° 15'E. Longitude; thence, southward to 18° N. Latitude, 108° 15'E. Longitude; thence southeastward to 17° 30'N. Latitude, 111° E. Longitude; thence southward to 11° N. Latitude; 111° E. Longitude, thence southwestward to 7° N. Latitude, 105° E. Longitude; thence westward to 7° N. Latitude, 103° E. longitude, thence northward to 9° 30'N. Latitude, 103° E. Longitude, thence northeastward to 10° 15'N. Latitude, 104° 27'E. Longitude, thence northward to a point on the West Coast of Vietnam at the juncture of Vietnam with Cambodia."

There are 17 campaign stars possible for Vietnam Service Medals, bronze for each awarding, and silver representing five awards. Other devices that are sometimes earned to wear on the ribbon of this medal are Fleet Marine (USMC emblem) or an arrowhead.

The medal itself is of bronze, 1.25 inches in diameter, and displays an asian-style dragon behind a grove of bamboo, bearing the inscription "REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM SERVICE". On the reverse, there is a crossbow surmounted by a torch, and the inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". The ribbon is derived from the old South Vietnam flag, and is symmetrical. Being 1 3/8 in. wide, it is, from the outer edge to the center, a 1/8 in. green stripe, 5/16 inch Air Force Yellow, 1/16 in. Old Glory Red, 5/32 in. Air Force Yellow, and a 1/16 in. Old Glory Red center.

Sources: SERVICE MEDAL1.html