Korean Service Medal

The Korean Service Medal (KSM) is a military award for service in the United States Armed Forces and was created in November 1950 by executive order of President Harry Truman. The Korean Service Medal is the primary United States military award for participation in the Korean War and is awarded to any U.S. service member, who performed duty in the Republic of Korea, between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954.[2][3]

Korean Service Medal
Korean Service Medal
Awarded by Department of Defense
TypeService medal
EligibilityMilitary service during Korean War
Awarded forservice within territorial limits or service that directly supported the military efforts in Korea.
Campaign(s)Korean War
DescriptionObverse: On a bronze medal, 1-1/4 inch in diameter, a Korean gateway, encircled by the inscription "KOREAN SERVICE".
Reverse: On the reverse is the Korean "taegeuk" symbol taken from the center of the Korean National flag with the inscription "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" and a spray of oak and laurel encircling the design.
Ribbon: The ribbon is 1-3/8 inches wide and consists of the following stripes: 1/32 inch White; 19/32 inch Bluebird; center 1/8 inch White; 19/32 inch Bluebird; and 1/32 inch White
EstablishedEO 10179, November 8, 1950, as amended[1]
First awardedJune 27, 1950 (retroactive)
Last awardedJuly 27, 1954
Next (higher)National Defense Service Medal
Next (lower)Antarctica Service Medal
RelatedKorean War Service Medal (Korea)
Korean Defense Service Medal United Nations Korea Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Presidential Unit Citation (Korea)

Korean Service Medal ribbon & streamer

Medal devices

Service stars

The United States Department of Defense declared thirteen official campaigns of the Korean War, all of which are annotated by service stars on the Korean Service Medal. Some campaigns apply to all branches of the U.S. military, while others are branch specific. The Korean Service Medal is authorized a service star to denote participation in any of the following campaigns:

  • North Korean Aggression (USMC, Navy): June 27 to November 2, 1950
  • United Nations Defensive (Army, USAF): June 27 to September 15, 1950[4]
  • Inchon Landing (USMC, Navy): September 13 to 17, 1950
  • United Nations Offensive (Army, USAF): September 16 to November 2, 1950[4]
  • Chinese Communist Forces Intervention (Army, USAF): November 3, 1950 to January 24, 1951[4]
  • Communist China Aggression (USMC, Navy): November 3, 1950 to January 24, 1951
  • First United Nations Counteroffensive (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): January 25 to April 21, 1951[4]
  • Chinese Communist Forces Spring Offensive (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): April 22 to July 8, 1951[4]
  • United Nations Summer-Fall Offensive (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): July 9 to November 27, 1951[4]
  • Second Korean Winter (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): November 28, 1951 to April 30, 1952[4]
  • Korean Defense Summer-Fall, 1952 (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): May 1 to November 30, 1952[4]
  • Third Korean Winter (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): December 1, 1952 to April 30, 1953[4]
  • Korea, Summer 1953 (USMC, Army, Navy, USAF): May 1 to July 27, 1953[4]

Arrowhead device

An arrowhead device is authorized for US Army or Air Force personnel to denote participation in each of the following:[5]

  • Amphibious landing at Inchon
  • Airborne attacks on Sukch'on-Such'on and Musan

Fleet Marine Force combat operation insignia


Although the Korean War Armistice ended combat operations in Korea on 27 July 1953, the Korean Service Medal was issued until June 1954 due to the tense nature of the occupation and garrison duty immediately after the armistice, as well as the high possibility of a renewed attack by North Korea. After 1954, the Korean Service Medal was no longer issued although the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal was authorized for Korean service in the 1960s. As of 2004, a new medal known as the Korea Defense Service Medal was authorized for all post-Korean War service in the Republic of Korea.

The KSM was designed by the Army Heraldic Section. The color scheme of the ribbon is derived from the Flag of the United Nations, as it was under the auspices of the United Nations (United Nations Security Council Resolution 82) that the war was conducted. The medal itself features a "Korean gateway," most likely an iljumun, on the front, and a taegeuk on the reverse. [6]

The United Nations Service Medal for Korea was usually issued alongside the Korean Service Medal. Beginning in 1999, the Republic of Korea War Service Medal was also awarded to United States service members who received the Korean Service Medal. The Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation is retroactively authorized to any United States Army veteran who served in Korea during the War.


  1. Amended by EO 10429, January 17, 1953, and EO 13286, February 28, 2003. Additional details and descriptions given at 32 CFR 578.44.
  2. "Korean Service Medal". U.S. Navy Service and Campaign Medals. Naval History and Heritage Command.
  3. "Korean Service Medal". tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil. The Institute of Heraldry. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  4. "Fact Sheet: Korean Service Medal". afpc.af.mil. Air Force Personnel Center. Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
  5. "Rank ribbons" (PDF). www.studyguides.af.mil.
  6. Kerrigan, Evans E. (1964). "The Korean War 1950-1953". American War Medals and Decorations. New York: The Viking Press. p. 103. OCLC 702555627.
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