A Cold War Victory Medal

The idea is not a new one, in fact, and has been debated often in both the House and the Senate. There are pros and cons to the issue. Some, myself included, think we have too many ribbons and medals. Such items as the GWOTSM and various specific duty ribbons don’t seem quite right to me, especially on a Marine uniform. Other awards have far more meaning. Gravitas, if you will. So my natural tendency would lean away from yet another medal/ribbon/award. (Lord knows the teasing that National Guard folks get about the “Good Posture Medal” and “Perfect Attendance Ribbon”.)

Yet, as the end of the Cold War nears two decades distant, like a person stepping away from a massive structure whose grandeur is lost in the visible details, the immense and dangerous efforts and exertions of our service men and women during the Cold War comes more clearly into proper perspective. Those efforts, nearly incomprehensible today, seem appropriate for some form of special recognition. The Cold War involved all of the aspects of a hot one, with the overarching understanding that failure of the efforts of both deterrence and readiness would lead to annihilation on a scale unknown in man’s history.

Beginning in the Summer of 1945, and lasting until the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991, the Cold War was a constant and exhaustive effort, requiring large amounts of forces, materiel, and deployments, even during times of open war in other places. USAF F-86 Sabre jets were not initially deployed to the Korean peninsula as it was feared that a weakening of US continental air defenses would provide the Soviets with opportunities for a nuclear strike. Despite the demands for US Navy presence off the coast of Vietnam, the US 6th Fleet maintained an extremely powerful presence in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

The crews of strategic bombers, missile silos, Navy ships and at sea, Marine Corps and Army forces forward deployed or rapid deployment echelons, lived lives of constant vigilance, uncertainty, and seemingly endless drills and preparations to maintain razor-sharp skills.

Those whose jobs were active surveillance of Soviet and Soviet Bloc hostile nations played a very dangerous game with an unremitting enemy. The shooting down of Deep Sea 129 (highlighted by SteelJaw’s excellent post), loss of USS Scorpion (SSN-589), capture of USS Pueblo (AGER-2), and many other hostile incidents, resulted in 382 US casualties formally recognized (according to the VFW). When one counts lives lost during the Berlin Airlift and many other occurrences that remain behind a shroud of secrecy, the number is far higher.

As I said in the opening paragraph, my instinct is almost always to shy away from yet another award for the slightly-better-than-ordinary. We have far too many already.

But for those who served this nation during the prolonged era of tension, readiness, deterrence, loss, sacrifice, courage, and ultimately, victory that encompassed the 46 years of the Cold War, it may be time that recognition is due. Their efforts, whether they fired in anger or not, that secured our freedom during those years, was truly extraordinary. What does the MILBLOG crowd have to say?

Posted by UltimaRatioReg in Air Force, Army, Aviation, Coast Guard, Foreign Policy, History, Marine Corps, Maritime Security, Navy

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  • URR,

    I’d be in favor of it, if for no other reason, than for friends I flew with who never made it back. Something to pass on to their families to let them know that their sacrifice was part of a larger mission, that ultimately validated everything they did.

  • No.

    I’m completely against it. The cold war ended more than 10 years ago. The time for medals for participation in that “campaign” has passed.

    No disrespect intended and the value of the service by those who participated is appreciated but to (at this late date) start awarding medals is unseemly.

  • Byron

    I’d say the servicemembers aboard Deep Sea 129 earned the award…bet there’s a bunch more that would to.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    I think a victory medal would be in order, not that most of us still have a uniform to wear it on. Or perhaps a ribbon.

    Although they can keep mine if they’ll award the MOH to the living who should have gotten them and instead got downgraded by the chairborne commandos (all who lived to tell the tale, thus far). Survival penalty.

    Some overdue recognitions are more important than others.

  • Jay

    Big no. I thought the Cold War certificate a few years back was a joke when I first heard of it.

    We are already over-medaled, there are too many attendance prizes & I have never bought into the “end-of-tour” nonsense, either.

  • Byron.

    Oh and you think that a “cold war medal” is proper recognition for the courage shown by Deep Sea 129.

    And we’re not talking about going back through the records and awarding medals for bravery or heroism.

    You’re talking about awarding a medal because of the time frame that a person served.

    Seems like you cheapen the accomplishments and sacrifice of the fallen during that same time period when you do that.

  • YNSN

    a Medal or Ribbon?

    I am afraid the time has past for such a thing to do be done. However, once all you Cold Warriors start passing away en mass, I am sure those of my generation will feel the need to venerate your service and we will issue something.

    One is almost hard pressed to find anyone still AD that served during the Cold War, they’re usually old LDOs or Warrants or Master Chiefs that were around for the Cold War. There are E4s and a few E5s today that work with me, that have no memory of the Cold War, because they were born in ’92.


    I think something should be done, as even those who were serving in units that supprted the DEW line, and spent thier time trying to stay warm, were making thier contribution to the eventual victory. All of us here appreciate what they did, but perhaps it would be nice if there was some way of saying ” Thank You ” in a formal way. My vote is yes.

  • Thanks, YNSN….*some* of us are still around from before the wall going down, ya know!

  • Jim Dolbow

    Great post! I think there should be a Cold War Victory Medal. A Well deserved honor. Having said that we are over-medaled as a military however lets not get chintzy on our Cold War Vets.

  • Byron

    Solomon, I didn’t say “everyone” gets a medal. Just that there were a lot of people that paid the price for winning the Cold War: The U2 shot down over Cuba…a C-130 out of Turkey. There were a lot of good people that died maintaining that fine balance between hot and cold, and they should have recognition for standing on the line.

  • YNSN

    How about a memorial then, in DC? Seems a hell’ova lot better than a little ribbon.

  • Byron,
    there are already awards for the kind of sacrifice that you mentioned. i just don’t want to see the US military dilute its awards system any more than it already has.

    i’m sorry to say but the ribbons given for duty stations? for going on deployments? for filling certain billets? that’s just part of the job.

    for those who gave their life …well we do have combat/heroism ribbons & medals available.

    the real issue is with the commanders who (if they didn’t) failed to recognize the sacrifice by filling out the proper forms and getting them the awards that they had won.

    oh and we have more than enough memorials. this country is sick with them. i wonder if this isn’t really a discussion about medals and really a discussion about our societal need for recognition.

  • No, no, and good googly moogly no. And that is from a guy who cut his teeth, YNSN my friend, as a JO on the last leg of the Soviet Union (….so there we were; we didn’t know it at the time but the Kirov Hull 1 just had its reactor casualty and we received orders to ….. )

    When my warfare pin is mostly covered up by my lapels of the SDBs and I start to look like a North Korean officer and less like an American one as it looks like I am one decade away from having my salad bar go over my shoulder – I think we have gone too far.

    If Admiral Woodward could lead the Battle of the Falklands with less than two rows – in the Salamander world we would do a baseline review of all medals and ribbons with a goal of retiring over half and returning to strict limitations on numbers that can be awarded. Oh, the 50% cut is for aggregate of both – I would retire 85% of ribbons.

    We all have our stories about the sillyness of the awards process – it really is unseemly, patronizing, and dilutes the whole significance of awards. Remind me one day to tell you how I received my Army Achievement Medal…..

    The greatest reward I received from my Cold War Service was having the opportunity to serve with NATO officers on Afghanistan whose first efforts there were as Soviet Officers.

    No, no medal – or another blight on what little green space left on the Mall in DC needed – though I would like the chance to box YNSN’s ears; “… However, once all you Cold Warriors start passing away en mass …” Harumph. I’ll give you “mass.”


  • Solomon,

    You are dead wrong. We will never have enough memorials. What we have are too many clueless and self-centered citizens who want to forget the past and move on to the next shiny thing that excites their ADD addled brains.

  • Russell Hooten

    I do believe that perhaps we have to many ribbons awarded today, that said I have to say that each of the world wars did have their victory ribbons, and seeing the so call “hot” cold war lasted some 50 years, and many paid with their lives perhaps a cold war victory medal is in order. Off the subject some what the sea service and overseas service ribbons that are awarded now, what gives if they are going to be giving for doing what is your job why are they not retro-active back to all sea going sailors and Marines and not 1971?

  • YNSN

    CDR Sal, I knew that was a loaded statement, and I’ll take my licks. If it is any consolation, I won’t be too far behind you all.

    I guess to just pour gas onto this talk, I will be leaving AFG with… 5, maybe 6 medals/ribbons. They are 1 – ARCOM, 1 – JSCM, 1 – AFG Campagin, 1 – OSR, 1 – NATO non-art 5. Maybe, just maybe the Army will hook me up with an AAM as well.

    The medal/ribbon system is just plain f*ct. The Army wrote an exception to policy memo concerning the MSM vs BSM awarding in a combat zone. Once upon a time, the MSM could NOT be awarded during war time. This changed in FY04, where the MSM and AAM could be awarded in war time. The BSM can now be ‘downgraded’ to an MSM. However, the action by the service member must not be combat related. However, the BSM can be awarded for non-combat related duties (read: being a fobbit). The two are really interchangeable. the “V” device is really all that draws a distinction between combat and non-combat. This even though, the V device was to denote exceptional performance in combat.

    I won’t even regale you the criteria of a Soldier earning the Combat Action Badge.

    Sailors have to vet all their awards above a Commendation Medal through the CNO’s office. Air Force has to vet ALL their awards through AFCENT. Marines, MARCENT.

    Last thing I will mention, a good friend of mine a SGT out here. Great guy, squared away. He’s been in the Army as long as I’ve been in the Navy (4 years next week). He has 6 AAMs and 3 ARCOMS. Me? 1 – NAM and 1 – ARCOM.

    Ditch most of the ribbons, I hate writing awards.

  • SJBill

    More medals. Harumph!

    My time of service was late sixties. My AOR was the CVS Navy in the North Atlantic.

    We worked the long hours.
    Felt shock blasts from the water.
    Endured the loss of en entire boat.
    Pulled the occasional body from the drink, mostly from Ivan’s ranks, thank goodness.

    Those who served in NAM were suitably decorated. Others, inlcuding myself, left the service wearing the same single medal / ribbon we walked in with. National Defense. I’m still happy with that. It’s what we did.

    These days, I attend awards presentations and observe PO1s with six rows of salad. Sure, many have done tours to the Af and Iraq, but most have not.

    Today’s medal awarding policies have all the symbolism seen in Sea Cadet or NJROTC inspections. The policies are excessive and meaningless.

  • …..oh, and I forgot the tens to hundreds of manhours (if I can use that term) we would save from administrative overhead in processing all those superfluous awards.

    In a way, reminds of that scene near the end of the great German movie Stalingrad (required to watch in the original German – with English subtitles if you must), where they are starving and an airdrop finally makes it inside their lines and it is full of ….. Iron Crosses.

  • YNSN

    Know why the Army has this issue? My money is on the fact that each unit has to submit an EO report quarterly to BIG Army. In this report I have to break down all the awards by pay grade, gender, race and type of award. They ensure that it is all being done as fair as possible.

    How can a process be fair an possible if you are not giving as many awards as you can in as many ways as you can? This is the same process worship that Admiral Harvey is talking about over at his place.

  • tony pierson

    I agree that the award system is a little inflated. However, we should keep in mind that these awards are “pats on the back” for the work we do. As long as the combat awards are not cheapened, I am all for awards for achevement and service. Remember, what we as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines define as normal service, really is sacrifice. We get uprooted regularly, we take jobs in places that we normally would not choose to be, we prepare on a regular basis to go to war….And that’s if we do not deploy. If/when we deploy, we are isolated from our loved ones and we risk everything for duty, honor, country….A few inflated awards doesn’t really seem like a horrible thing.

    AND…this business of downgrading MOH’s if the person lives is a misscarriage of the public trust. No one sets out to be awarded the MOH, but requiring death before it is awarded cheapens the valor of our brave warriors.

    PS: I’d take my Cold War Medal and proudly display it. For me, it simply means that I was willing to do whatever was necessary to keep my family, my friends, and my country safe.

  • CDR Salamander said it better than I.

    On to the issue of memorials! They don’t remind the public of the sacrifice made by its men and women. It only serves as another drain on resources…I will meet you half way though.

    If they’re privately funded, and maintained then awesome. Go for it.

  • A side note. Why do I have to stumble along a resource like the Naval History Blog instead of it being advertised in neon letters over here?

    Come on blog admin! Get on the ball!

  • vietnam vet and the cold war too

    My perspective is perhaps colored by wearing USAF blue-that said those men and women that helped to defeat the Soviet Union should have their service and the victory honored.. and it was a victory to be sure.We aren’t going to suit up and put our dress uniforms on to show off-but a victory medal does serve to recognize our participation in a decades long struggle that changed the world.And with all of the other medals, ribbons and badges going around we passed the point of over done with the fruit salad a few years ago when the USAF passsed out a ribbon for short and long overseas tours-the alert status wasn’t quite as stressful for those airmen-the Soviet Union no longer had 12,000 tanks pointed at what was then called West Germany-if doing your tour gets a ribbon then winning the Cold War should get more than a piece of paper as in a certifcate.

  • Cap’n Bill

    Yup. Many of those who served in the Cold War are only gray glosts seen in the fog. But those who do remember their service should not forget the History of the era.

    I believe that some form of recognition is in order. Once upon a time campaign and war theater recognition was an accepted fashion of some distinction. This seems to not be the case today. Your loss.

  • Jay

    If this ever gets any traction, and it shouldn’t…at the most, another service star on the NDSM.

  • admin

    Solomon: Thanks. Naval History Blog is a new site for us. I’ve added the link to the right

  • P.M. Leenhouts CAPT USN (Ret)

    – Fewer “fruit salad” awards all around.
    – Of the awards remaining, fewer medals for all that, and more stringent requirements to earn ’em. Make ’em all worth something.
    – The end of victorious wars should be noted with the appropriate Victory Medal.
    – It’s about time for a National Cold War Memorial. We shuld not allow the American people to forget the broad spectrum of military and civilian sacrifices made to ensure our survival.

  • Jim_in_Fla

    For USN service, ’67 to ’71 my ndsm is about right. No cold warrior medal needed, but I wish the VA would loosen up with the hearing aids.

  • Grandpa Bluewater

    Capt Leenhouts has it right.

    There are awards for valor.

    There are awards for service in a particular noteworthy campaign.

    There are awards for meritorious achievement.

    There are bullshit awards for doing your plain duty or completing the minimum effort required of all.

    And then, too rarely, lately, there are awards for VICTORY!

    Which is to say, the rotten SOB’s did their worst and WE BEAT ‘EM.

    The last category is one to give to EVERY FREAKING BODY. Cause we all did something (absent bad or worse conduct), and many did A L0T which will never be recognized. Why be cheap. WE BEAT THE BASTARDS.

    If nothing else it’s a thumb in the eye for all the whining, draft dodging, fraidy cat, despicable scum who said it couldn’t be done.

    And if you think I might be talkin’ to you, DAMN TOOTIN’!

    One man’s opinion.

  • Cap’n Bill

    What do you folk think about what I believe is the excessive number of ribbons worn on the uniform ? I can remember vaguely that Nimitz wore but three, Halsey about seven as he neared retirement and Arleigh Burke sported seven in his glory days. I’d suggest that the CJCS announce that as a matter of policy only the six most senior awards be worn under most all circumstances. Maybe the armed forces would no longer look like pensioners from the Red Army.

  • YNSN

    We give out so many awards because we have tied it into our Enlisted promotion system. You max out at 12 points. But, if you’re just doing the absolute minimum that’s three duty stations worth of NAMs, so call that 9-12 years. That person is probably a Chief by then.

    As the Enlisted get more awards, the JOs need to start getting more awards and it all snowballs from there.

    A simple way to start fixing this. Do away with the 1/3in silver star to denote the 6th award. This basically gives you a de facto
    limit of 5 awards. Wait a few years then institute a limit of 3 gold stars. a few more years a limit of 1 gold star. Then out right ban the second awarding of any award for ‘meritorious service’.

    Make the effect retro active as well. They may have earned those medals, but they can’t show it off. Surely, if we can do away with smoking on subs, we can do away with this!

    allow multiple awards with the 1/8in bronze star as those usually only denote subsequent awards of the good conduct and overseas service and sea service deployment awards.

  • I have no problem with honoring anyone that has done their part through all those years espically during those times of 8 month and 12 month deployments for example. Maybe Commander Solomon wouldnt mind returning his personnal awards after his 12-18 month tours to eran Navy Achievement medals, Commendation medals and Merritorious unit medals that the people under him made him so successful. Sounds like thats more of a wash than a cold War Medal to me. Maybe if personnel recognition was removed from the chest all together and only left for valor we wouldnt have these twenty rack ribbons running around. Some one ask a YNSN what the average today service member and YN rate wear for NAMs. I bet the average is 3 to 4 just for tour of duty alone. RAR (Roger Out)

  • Side note, ask the average JO that receives personnel recogniton. Two NAMS (3Yrs split tour), ONE COM (12-15 MON tour),ONE MUC (12 MON IA). I wonder why people have such an opion. I guess you gentlmen need to look at your ribbon rack. Sometimes it is just easy to give people thier due so they can show their family, grand kids ect what part they played. USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 1985. This old boy is still trucking with or without another medal.

  • Ted

    Arguments against the medal for elasped time or too many medals bear some merit but looking back we have done such things in the past. As for a Victory Medal, the United States awarded one each for WWI and WWII.

    How about the Korean Defense Servic Medal which was authorized in 2002 and distributed in 2004 for Service dating back to July 28, 1954.

    For the too many medals crowd, I portend that since the end of the Cold War times have become much more sportier for those wearing the uniform and the medals they wear are deserved. The Medals are Servicemembers are wearing today have been earned for opertational deployments or combat tours ala going directly into Harm’s way or providing urgent relief to the forsaken.

    In contrast, our cold warriors kept the peace by deterring war through pursuit of excellence and the willingness to answer their call to duty for whatever the cost. In the end they delivered us from the threat we have faced in our time. Who could question victory as the Wall began to fall in 1989 For that the Cold War ought to be counted alongside of other conflicts this nation has faced.

    These are my feelings after Service to the Nation over four decades from the cold war, through the peace dividend and into the era of persistent conflict.

  • Bill Wells

    Well, it may be time to recycle one medal. With the Army and National Guard once again deployed to the Mexican Border. The Mexican Border Service needs to be re-instated.

    Was not Vietnam part of the Cold War action?

  • Jim S.

    I have seen several posts that make the statement that their NDSM is enough for them, or add a star to the NDSM should suffice, I agree to some degree except it should be noted that many of our Brothers and Sisters did not receive the NDSM. Maybe the answer would be to authorize the NDSM to all individuals who honorably serve our Country. I thnik we would all agree that our “Cold War” veterans certainly served in our “National Defense”

  • Harry

    I am for it because of this one incident. A guy who flew in my squadron was on an operational flight, crashed, and was killed.The only thing his parents received was a telegram telling them when his body would be brought to the train station…No medals. No “Thanks from a grateful nation”…Nothing. I believe his family deserves better than a telegram.

  • Ted

    Lots of medal envy going around on this blog. To all of you old timers out there who racked up a six pack or so, thank you for your Service. You made an impact and you should be remembered for that. For those of us who helped bring the Cold War to an end that was a victory and should be acknowledged. The Nation ought to remember and honor those who Served the Cold War. The Cold War medal would be only a small token of that recognition.

    As for the comparisons of uniforms of todays’ Servicemembers to JROTC cadets; keep in mind that these folks have been in a hot war since 9/11 with nothing but more deployments to look forward to, more seperation, more danger. This peactime Army or the Service of your choosing is nothing more than a distant memory. These folks are getting those 90 cent ribbons for doing what is asked of them in the longest war in the history of the republic. I’d say they are earning them.

  • David (Swede) Swenson

    Dear Senator …….

    I am writing you today in the hopes that you will support the COLD WAR SERVICE MEDAL included in S.3454, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011 (Senate version)
    The staggering effort that this country put forth in terms of lives lost and treasure spent following WW II is only now beginning to be realized and appreciated.
    I am just one of many who spent three years on hazardous duty flying highly classified missions on high performance jet aircraft during the height of the Cold War in the 1960’s. Our missions, no matter where they may have been, were “always out front” and aspects of them are only recently being declassified. Such was the nature of the “Cold War” which, for many, was anything but “Cold”.
    Due to the nature of these operations, no official recognition was afforded. To do so would have run the risk of compromising the operations. In fact, even today, 40-50 years later, many aspects are still considered classified.
    Many never survived these missions and some were my friends.
    Our fathers and mothers, who fought in WW II, would be proud to know that my generation took care of unfinished business. Unfortunately, we were never allowed to fully share our story.
    Now, you have a unique “window of opportunity” to recognize a generation of men and women who went in “harm’s way” and defended our Nation in ways that not even the author Tom Clancy could imagine let alone the American people.
    Help us to come home, by recognizing our sacrifices through passage of the “Cold War Service Medal” and allow us to share our story. We earned that right!


    DHS (Swede)
    Special Activities Detachment Two (SAD2)

  • I have read all the coments above, and it seems that quite a few
    people are more worried about how much ribbon, or how much meddal
    is floating around our military. Or even How much its going to take to give the Cold War Vets a service meddal, than they care about what this would mean to us forgotten vetterens, who served in distant lands, often times in places where we were not welcomed, seperated from our families, and loved ones, always kept on the alert, never at ease. Our families back home living on food stamps, and the Army’s food locker because our pay back then you couldnt hardly raise family on, yet your out serving your country, and yes you took an oath to put your life on the line for your country. Just like the soilder who serves during war time, only we never knew when that alarm went off if this was just another drill or is this the real deal. I gave four years of my life serving my country, most of that was in a cav. unit in Germany guarding a pass (Kolburg Pass,)the only place the East Germans, and Russians could bring their tanks through in that part of the country. Gary Owen 3rd Sqd/7th Cav. It would have been Custers last stand all over again. We would rotate one troop each month up to Kolburg. One troop to guard the pass. Some of you say to just let us walk away like ghost and just dissapear. No I wont juat walk away and dissapear, and I’m not a ghost, although I feal like one to this country. My father was vet. of Wll, He flew in the flying fortress’s. I’m named after a buddy of his that went down. He was proud of me when I put that uniform on, and you know what? I was proud to put it on. But like I said somebody forgot that millions of us put that uniform on and served this nation, and have been forgotten. This nation has dedicated hyways to veterans but as you drive down it you pass the dedicated to the WWl vets, then WW2 vets, then Koren conflict vets, the Vietnam vets, then Desert Storm vets, now Iraqi War vets and now Global war on terror vets. Nowhere do you see dedicated to the Cold War vets, who served in the longest war in America’s history. People died during those years , conflicts happened during those years, peoples lives were changed during those years, and a nation was protected during those years. So If you were in the military and they pinned that meddal on you , didnt you have a sence of pride, that you had done something worthwhile and somebody noticed, well if they noticed it must have been noteworthy of being noticed. But if those ribbons mean so little to you why dont you just send them back to the military and let them melt them down so they can make these Cold War Service Medals for the veterans who served there country and didnt even get a thank you out of it. You dont even know how much this medal means to me, and I’m just one of those ghost vets. I think that all of you who are so against all the ribbons and the medals, they have so little meaning and value to you, you could send yours in to have them melted down, that would save on some of the cost of making the Cold War Service Medal, and you would be helping out fellow vets, plus getting rid of a lot of ribbons and medals that mean nothing to anybody. But with that being said and done you can probably remember when each ribbon was pinned on you and even how you felt. Maybe it was just for job well done. Well who wouldnt like that, we all have a little pride in us, and there is nothing wrong with feeling good and getting recognition for a job well done. Maybe a medal during wartime, that could be all kinds of emotions, some good, and some , we’ll just leave it at that. But you see what I’m saying If you look back, or think back to each time you got pinned, you had some kind of an emotion, and if you get that ribbon out today your going to feel that emotion, and your going to look back to that day. It will never go away as long as you have that ribbon. Its more than a piece of clothe and a piece metal, its a piece of your life. I need to close this up they probably wont print all this anyway I have one last thing to say and I say it jokingly, to you Vietnam vets,at least when you guys came home you got some recognition, you got called baby killers and cursed at, and by golly you even got spit on. Now that is a welcome home if I ever saw one. Beats the ticket parades of the 40tys and the 50tys huh. You were probably wish’n you ghost vets. I love the veterens, But my greatest love is for the Vietnam Vet. All the cards were stacked agaist you. If they only wanted you to. YOU COULD HAVE WON THAT WAR. I just pray that us Cold War Vets Will finaly get a thank you and get that Cold War Service Medal, for a job well done.

  • Dr Frederick Wolf

    Here is an idea that might just accomplish the desired result…
    which as I understand it, is to honor a group of veterans whose service and sacrifice brought a satisfactory end to the Cold War.
    Since most of us veterans who served during the Cold War (1946-91) are no longer in the service, a simple stroke of the pen would suffice to make the NDSM available to all veterans (including Guard and Reserve) who served honorably during the Cold War period. There is president for this. And beyond that, let the SecDef& Homeland Security recognize the Cold War Victory Medal currently awarded by certain State Guards as appropriate for wear on the uniform of all branches. As for the cost, given the Keynsian spending associated with the fiscal stimulous program embraced by the Administration and Congress, its cost should be no consideration at all…as it would, according to Keynsian theory, be economically “stimulative”…
    That said, however, I suspect many Cold Warriers would be willing, to pay for their own award, infact, I suspect many would be willing to donate/contribute to a fund to pay for additional medal/ribbon sets which could then be distributed through veterans service organizations. I think there may be a pen stroke solution to this which could facilitate a “win-win” outcome for all.

  • Moses Barget

    I know that having served during the Cold War in its latter years makes me a bit biased on the topic but I will attempt to be objective. I too believe that the medals being awarded nowadays is overkill. Attendance? End-of-Tour? I was even shocked that in 1989 one particular service had a medal for finishing boot camp? Sorry, no offense, but that is just non-sense. What’s next, a medal for a good dental check up? However, anyone who would compare service during the Cold War where those who committed themselves to serve during a time when one spark could set off not just a localized conflict but a world war with an enemy super power (not a 3rd world country) and a world war that had all of the ingredients needed for mutual annihilation; anyone who would equate that to “perfect attendance” and “finishing boot camp” is seriously out of touch with reality. Those who served to keep that war cold so that Americans could live to see another day, deserve more than that. My my carrier crossed paths with Soviet ships from time to time and it was no joke. The potential threat was real. I am not begging for a medal. I served my country, and Americans sleeping safely in their beds at night was my medal. But if America wants to recognize her sons and daughters for this kind of service. I support it 100%. In my opinion our current government has spent more money on less ventures. I am not asking my government to bail me out. I would only be asking them to meaningfully respect and recognize those who served faithfully and honorably during this volatile time in our counties history. We were victorious. Contributing to our victory should count for something. An official medal is simply not too much to ask for.

  • M . Bohlmann

    I have never understood why giving a medal to honor military service that prevented a shooting war is viewed as cheapening a medal given for valor in battle. All medals and ribons come with and are worn only in order of importance. This award need not be as high as a battlezone award, but to say that “it would cheapen” all other awards by recognizing those who just showed up is really an ignorant view. Although we served during the Viet Nam war us soldiers who were stationed in Germany are not regarded as Viet Nam war veterans. I served at Campbell Barracks when 3 communications specialists and officers were blown up by the communist terrorist Red Brigade. The Cold War was very real to all of us. When we left our homes and jobs we all thought we were going to the Nam… but some of us got orders to Germany and a few to Korea and CONUS bases. All those alerts and inspections and REFORGER missions for Guard troops and reserves were absolutely part of our War Plan for Europe. The only reason we did not fire a round in Europe was because those were 20 KiloTon rounds, not because it was not a War. The General I worked for said the job of a General was to declare victory and move, to live to fight another day in another place to secure peace, preserve freedom and defeat any tyrany who would dare to threaten this wonderful nation of our. My service was not without sacrifice and it cheapen’s no other veteran’s service. Giving me a Cold War Medal would remind me of the great good we all did.

  • Mark Gallup

    HELL YES ! ! !

  • Michael Richards

    Please make the medal official! I am offended by former posts stating that it is too late. How dare you! When these Vets paved the way for your war technology and warfighting capability! These cold war vets fought an unseen war of threats and covert violence and death. That did not always make the “press” war. We averted a possible nuclear holocaust by working our asses off night after night to keep the Soviets at bay. The Cold War Vets saved this planet. Enough said.

  • It would be nice to be recognized as having done something during my time of service besides a getting lowly National Defense Ribbon, a coupla’ atta’ boys and a Good Conduct Medal. The only thing we got saying we were involved was a goofy piece of paper signed by the Sec of Defense (not his real signature)that absolutely everyone got if you did anything during that period of time – up to and including the person who swept the crap down the halls at for Department of Agriculture or the person who burned the trash at a federal prison. I’d like to think my Pancreatic and Bile cancer caused by the nuclear missiles I guarded would be at least worth something. NATO who we were in direct partnership with at SASCOM gave their secretarial staff a medal (including their janitors) but not the folks like me and thousands of others who protected their silly asses and were always there vigilant and ready stompin around out in the snow. Maybe we should have lost like Vietnam then we could have our medal too or been put on staff at NATO. (Too harsh?)

    I have quite a few friends that were lost in Vietnam and I mean no disrespect to any soldier, sailor, marine, or coastguardsman that served there.

    “Sure politicians have their place but currently my manure pile is full.” Rattlesnake Don’t Taste Like Chicken by Townsend Twainhart

  • I just recieved the certificate and am proud to put it on my wall. Its about time that the DOD come up with the money for the medal. If everyone would do research and see what the cold war was all about, they would say About Time. Its so funny I got Hazzardous duty pay every day I served. Just because your not at the DMZ, it does’nt mean your not putting it on the line every day.

  • Fred Ramsay

    How about a simple compromise–one that should please everyone. Approved but not funded. You want a medal, buy the design the DoD approves. Heck it’s a veteran’s medal almost exclusively. It’d be nice to have and out away, but the DoD should not have to divert anywhere from 5 t0 19 million of otherwise needed dollars to create a souvenir, however deserved and earned. I’d happily pay.

  • I agree with Mr. Ramsay, to a point. IF DOD would make the approved medal the official Cold War Victory Medal for the Cold War Vets, That makes it to where you can wear it on your uniform, meaning more vets are likely to buy it.Id DOD was to put a tax of some kind on it, or that so much of the sale of the item goes to
    the VA. or to help our disabled vets, or families who have lost a close family member (father-mother,) in these wars. That makes this Medal worth even more to know that you not only served your country once before, but your serving it once again by helping out a disabled vet or a brother or sister in arms who gave it all. And now their familys need help. Their are millions of Cold War Vets out there, I mean a couple dollar tax on the medal
    to go into a program like that, how many millions are you looking at that could help other vets, and their families. Mr. Ramsay, I
    just have one request from you. I only ask that you not call the Cold War Victory Medal for the Cold War Vets. a souvenir, a
    souvenir is something you would get at a truck stop along route
    #66. Like those spoons that have each state on them, and as you go through a stats you collect that spoon, thats a souvenir. I
    spent four years of my life defending this nation and her people and way of life. I took an oath to obey those appointed above me
    no matter what those orders might be even if it ment I might loose my life following them. I stood on foriegn soil for over two years in an M60A1 tank guarding Fulda Gap. In a country where half the population didnt want me there. In combat an infantry
    mans life span is 16-seconds, in combat an armor crewmans life-
    span is 9-seconds, Fulda was the only opening for the East Germans and the Soviets to bring their tanks through, they out numberd us three tanks to one of ours. Meaning we had to be able to knock out three of their tanks, before they could get to us.
    We had to be very good at what we did in order to survive, and that was to be able to kill at a very fast rate, or be killed,
    because your sitting in a moving bomb, waiting to go off, or for someone to set it off. Oh well. Gotta love it, which in ways I did love the Army. It was good to me, as long as I was good to it, thats all it ever requierd of us. I dont think that was asking to much. Anyway GARY OWEN to you and we be se’in you at the FIDDLER’S GREEN, 3rd sqd. 7th. Cav. 3rd. Inf. Div. Rock Of The
    Marne, 1980-1983 USAF-1972

  • I am very pro-active about the Cold War Victory Medal for the ghost soldiers (the forgotten ones,) of this nation, who have gone far to long with out recognition of their service and sacrifices for the safety and the security that they provided for over 50 yrs for the American people, and the protection of American soil. I was re-reading some of the comments above and I know that we all are intitled to our own opinions. That is why I served in the Army was to protect that right. But I find Cdr. Salamanders comment, quite
    amusing, and I quote,( No, no medal or another blight on what little green space left on the mall in DC needed – Though I would like a chance to box YNSN’s ears; ” However, once all you COLD WARRIORS
    start passing away en mass…..”, ” Harump. I’ll give you mass.”)
    These are words coming from a commander? An American commander. I
    dont care which branch of sevice you served in, meaning as an officer with a command, your soldiers well being, their security and
    safety, their moral are all placed above your own, you place them first. From your writtings I dont find you to be that kind of a commander, one that his troops would follow to hell and back, and if you want to come and box my ears I’m more than ready and willing, but it wont be my ears you’ll be a boxing, I’m a get down in the dirt and mud 7th cav Gary Owen kick your butt from here to hell and back kind of guy. Thats what I was trained to do, and I do what I was trained to do very well. So bring what you think you got on big guy. I wouldnt underestimate YNSN either, he might supprise you. And your statement ” However, once all you COLD WARRIORS start passing away en mass…” “Harump”. I’ll give you “mass.” You know we lasted from 1948-1990. We saw the rise of the Soviet Union and then we saw it DIE, we saw the rise of HOE CHE MING, and we saw him DIE. Do you know the song by the RollingStones, Time Is On Our Side. It truely is on our side. Just like the Soviet Union, and the Great chineese communist dictator, as they and many more like them passed away en mass…. because of us Cold Warriors. I beleive that there will still be (millions,) more than enough of us (COLD WAR VICTORY VETS,) around to “HARUMP. GIVE YOU MASS.” Garry Owen to ya, here’s hopen ya make it to Fiddler’s Green. But you need a change of attitude toward your soldiers, if’n your goin to make it there.

  • Joe Brulotte

    Authorizing the NDSM instead of a Cold War Victory Medal should be sufficient recognition for our service during the “Cold War”.
    It would also be cost efficient for the government. As for Congress, many of our elected representatives have never even served in the military, let alone faced the forces of the Soviet Union.

  • joe mansfield

    Are we all, who are in favor, not preaching to the quior? Indeed, time is of the essence. Contact your Congressman&Senators….NOW IS THE TIME!!! For you DUDS who are critical…Where the flyin’whoopa did you serve? I wouldn’t drink a beer with the likes of you!!! You Duds stink!!! jomama15CAV4ADSchwabach,Germany1958-62

  • MacMarine

    Cold War Veterans should receive a service medal for their part in securing America during a critical time in history. According to the veterans Administration “Not” including Vietnam 109 thousand military personnel died. that’s twice as much as Vietnam. The VA never said where these active duty personnel died but it was during the Vietnam years and during the Cold War. Now this information came from the Veterans Administration probably via the Department Of Defense. I have a copy of that information however it no longer exists on the internet. But Im in full agreement of this medal, it should be issued and you can then get all you can get at the VA in terms of medical. Which is probably why the gov’t does not want to issue the medal because of the benefits they would have to pay out.

  • Essayons

    There were more U.S. combat casualties (382) during the “cold times” of the Cold War than during the “hot war” of Desert Storm (147) and only 3 less casualties than the Spanish American War (385) (using only unclassified sources of confirmed U.S. Cold War casualties)…and that’s NOT counting Korea and Vietnam! (They were part of the Cold War and did not happen in a vacuum. Korean combat casualties were 33,686 KIA and Vietnam’s were 47,410 and should be included.)

    There were 1,870 training and “operations” deaths annually during my Cold War Service time (1984-1991). That was a higher U.S. total death rate than there has been in the Global War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan COMBINED!


    We beat the Soviet Union…the EVIL EMPIRE…and a Cold War Victory Medal is warranted. The communists MURDERED over 100 MILLION people during the 20th Century and WE DEFEATED THEM and we did it without a nuclear exchange. Does anyone really think that that “just happened” or we got lucky? The fact that there are now college graduates and currently serving troops that don’t even know what the Cold War was or that there was an Iron Curtain shouts the need for some sort of recognition for Cold War veterans.

    The congress authorized the medal TWICE and the SecDef killed it. WWI, WWII vets got victory medals. Korean vets got the KDSM. Vietnam vets got the VSM. Cold War victors deserve no less.

  • Big Sarge

    I can’t see why someone would have a problem with anyone who signed their life away to Serve the USA to be recognized for their Military Service. I feel there should be a Cold War Victory Medal for those who served just like any other conflict. Are you saying our Serve was not important and meant nothing? It does not matter how long it takes as long as it’s given.

  • Mitchell

    I don’t think an Cold War medal,will ever be awarded.My friends and I were seving in the Cold War, in Germany, during Occupation, 1949- 1952, we were 19 and 20 yr old then.I know alot of them guys are gone, I am now 81, close to 82.To us it was a Cold War, Russians threated the Forces in Germany all the time. Off duty,we wore class A all the time.Would be nice to receive the medal.

  • As a U.K. vet haveing served from 1972-1984 with 6 years in western Germany,and never haveing fired a shot in anger, i have no service medals, only a crappy tin veterans badge, H.M. goverment will not authourise a cold war service medal. As you are well aware we on this side of the water have the same problems as you, the bum shufflers and desk bound commandos who never served, and have no conseption of service life will not, and can not bring themselves to acknowledge our contribution to the dismanteling of the russian fedaration,a good many of my freinds died in service,and many more injured and discharged in wheelchairs. Our politicians cite the cost of producing millions of medals prohibative, others have the victorian attitude of use and dispose, we are for all intense and purposes, disposable items.

  • William Wallace


    Thank you for your service. I was right there with you from 1983 to 1991. It was the heady time of the Six Hundred Ship Navy, the M-60A3 Tank on station near the Fulda Gap, Bombers constantly in orbit, and Marines at the ready aboard floats all over the world. We all served faithfully and stood a post with the constant threat. Maybe we were the only ones who breathed a huge sigh of relief when the wall fell and “We won.” But it was a Victory like none other…and countless soldiers, sailors and airmen sacrificed for that huge success.

    Magnanimity in victory does not require us to disrespect the officers and men who came when called, served where needed, and went home only when properly releived…to preserve our freedoms until the threat was defeated.

    The debate about too many ribbons or medals is a fool’s diversion that takes a huge accomplishment and renders it a petty errand. For all of you who felt the slap in the face after Vietnam, the argument over ribbons is the backhanded return blow.

    Pass the Victory Medal in Congress, Strike a handsome medal, and Honor those who served. To debate it at all is a disrespect beyond measure.

    Thank you again for your service.


    William D. Wallace
    1LT, EN, USAR

  • Leslie “Clay” Cooper SSgt USAF Ret

    The Cold War was if not more lethal than being in combat. Servicemen were exposed to chemicals, radiation, biological and environmental conditions to name a few and paid there price with their lives. My Father was on the original Titan II Missile Propulsion Team and was exposed to Class “A” poisons, radiation from nukes and no telling what else. Yet when his health took a nose dive, the VA looked the other way, Ya’ What’s new! The Cold War was a full blown War, instead of being killed by the enemy; they took a bullet still the same and died of cancers and other horrible deaths.

  • Bruce Storace

    This medal is no different than the World War II Victory Medal which was given to soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines (our fathers) at the end of that war. From 1945 to 1991 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines served our country fought and died defending our freedom. The base I was stationed at in Korea was overrun in 1950 airmen died- I was there 19 1/2 years ) later 1969 in 1970 I was within 2 klicks of the DMZ (the Bamboo Curtain) . Do we deserve less– no we deserve the same recognition for our part (our blood, sweat and tears) in ending the Cold War.

  • Mitchell

    I served in Frankfurt 19 years old when I arrived in Germany.1949-1952 The frauleins kept us informed on what the Russians had to say almost daily.And it got worst, when the Auobaund was closed to wEST Berlin, ALONG WITH THE TRAINS THAT LEFT EVERY MORNING TO Berlin.I’d say 59 years, its past time to award the Cold War medal.

  • frank j mandel sr

    i spent 3 years active duty in germany 1952 to 1955 during the korean war. if those of you out there think we were not in danger of east block and russian tanks facing you every day and the many alerts we went thrue read the casulty and deaths that accured during those years.i am still waitng for that medal we all deserve, you cant pin a certificate on your chest and march in a veterans day parade. a proud usaf veteran that served with honor with many of my brothers.

  • disqus_odbWEfU6Oy

    I am an individual who served from 1978 to 1986. And served on a Nuclear Fast Attack submarine in the Soviet’s back yard for 4 of those years. Yet, I don’t even rate a National Defense Service Medal. And folks want to begrudge my desire for a Cold War Victory Medal. I’m sorry the post Cold War service hands out Ribbons and Medals like Halloween candy. It wasn’t that way back when I served…. I guess I should apologize for the COLD WAR not being a shooting war. Yeah… Things would have been much better if we used those Nukes!!!!