The Vietnam Campaign Medal is a military campaign medal of the former country of South Vietnam (Republic of Vietnam). Established in 1966, it was awarded to members of United States, Australian, and New Zealand military forces serving six months or more in support of Republic of Vietnam military operations. The medal was the most commonly bestowed foreign military award to United States Armed Forces personnel prior to the Gulf War.
The Vietnam Campaign Medal may also be awarded to any service member who, while serving outside the geographical limits of the Republic of Vietnam, provided direct combat support to the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces for a period exceeding six months. This stipulation most often applies to members who performed Vietnam War support from Thailand and Japan. In such cases, a U.S. service member must have been awarded either the Vietnam Service Medal or the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (for service in a Vietnam campaign) to be eligible for the Vietnam Campaign Medal. For those members who were wounded by an enemy force, captured by the enemy in the line of duty, or killed in action, the Vietnam Campaign Medal is automatically awarded regardless of total time served in Vietnam.
The medal is issued with a device known as the "1960 Bar”. The bar displays the date of 1960 followed by a dash and a blank space. The unusual appearance was caused by the government of the Republic of Vietnam stating that the 1960 bar would show the dates of the Vietnam War from start to finish, with the ending date placed on the 1960 bar after the South Vietnamese had triumphed over North Vietnam (the Democratic Republic of Vietnam). Since South Vietnam fell, and the government ceased to exist, an ending date for the 1960 Bar was never established.
In addition to the 1960 Bar, Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Memorandum 2655 prescribed a second device for service during the period 8 March 1949 - 20 July 1954 (which had both years displayed). American military personnel have never been authorized to wear it, but since this was during the French colonial period it is unlikely that many would have been eligible.
The Vietnam Campaign Medal is considered a foreign award by the U.S., Australian and New Zealand governments. The U.S. equivalent award is known as the Vietnam Service Medal. The joint Australian and New Zealand campaign medal awarded for service in the Vietnam War is the Vietnam Medal.
Other frequently bestowed Vietnam awards include the Vietnam Gallantry Cross and the Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, both of which were awarded extensively to both Vietnamese military service members and to the members of foreign militaries.