Jump to content
Gentleman's Military Interest Club

Korean Military Merit awards to U.S. forces for Korean War

Recommended Posts

I wonder whether any forum member has the number of the Korean order of Military Merit awarded to the United States forces during the Korean war? I am looking for the numbers on the Taeguk, Ulchi, Chungmu and Wharang. I know these orders were again subdivided in classes (with gold star, etc) but I am interested in the total numbers per order. Ingraham in his excellent book on Honors and awards of the Korean war (OMSA 1993) mentions Korean awards to several nations, but unfortunately not of the Korean awards to Americans.

I will be grateful to any forum member that can help me out.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been collecting and researching Korean Orders, Medals and Decorations since '93. As far as I know, the Koreans have never posted any information on the numbers of medals issued to specific countries. In 1983 the Korean Ministry of Government Information, published "Decorations Overview". On Page 255, there is one little reference to 209,555 Orders being issued for the Korean War, but there are no specifics.

Just for general information, there were three different design series of the Order of Military Merit issued during the War. The first official design was issued beginning in Oct. 1950. The second design was first issued in May, 1951. The third and final design was issued from Aug. 1951 until 1958. Only the third design series carries the class names of Taeguk, Ulchi, Chungmu and Hwarang.

To confuse the situation a little more, I know of one American KMAG Officer who was decorated by the Koreans. For that single action, and due to the confusion inherent in all wars, he received the ribbon bar (from the 1st design Series), then a couple of months later, he received his medal (from the 2nd Series), and then less than a month later, he was given a replacement medal, for reasons unknown (from the 3 series). Now the question arises, was he counted 1, 2 or 3 times.

Another piece to add to the confusion. Well after the war ended, the Koreans issued Medals for actions that in some cases had happened years earlier. PFC Walter C. Monegan Jr. (USMC) is a good example. He was killed in Sept. 1950 and received the Medal of Honor. In April, 1954, he was decorated by the Korean Government with the Order of Military Merit, Hwarang with Gold Star.

One last little bit of confusion. Between the start of the war on June 25th and October 1950, the Koreans issued a substitute medal, since there was no officially sanctioned Order of Military Merit. For reasons unknown, they continued to issue this substitute medal until at least January of 1951, well after the 1st design series was officially authorized. As far as I have been able to determine, all of these substitute medals went to high ranking American Officers (MacArthur, Walker, Struble, Stratemeyer, et al.).

In 1999, I was in Korea and saw some of the original Decoration logbooks used during the war. I do not know if all the logbooks are still in existence. But if they are, and if someone had the time and expertise, a full list could be generated. It would not be an easy task. During the war, the Koreans were using a lot of Chinese Characters in their documents, and many of the foreign names were written phonetically in Korean.

I hope in someway, this is of some help to you.


Don Pfeifer

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Don,

thank you very much for your interesting and useful comments. It´s a pity that numbers awarded of the Order of Military Merit are not available, although Ingraham does mention the numbers awarde to the Dutch forces during the Korean War. I guess he obtained them from our Ministry of Defence, where all forein awards to Dutch personell are recorded.

Best regards,


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello everyone,

This is my first posting and was curious if anyone knew where I could find a Republic of Korea Order of Military Merit, Hwarang Medal? I am specifically looking for a lapel pin for a friend. To find one for Christmas would be the best tribute to their service. Please reply with any and all leads.

Gratefully yours,

Glen C Williams

USN 95-2000

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_03_2013/post-15362-0-69783500-1363467363.jpgI have my father's medal and paperwork for his service to the Korean Government while in the USAF. I have a photo of it and will try to locate it from one of my many thumbdrives. Below it the translated document I located in his stored files. Enjoy.

The Certificate of the Order of Military Merit

U. S. Air Force 314th Division

Colonel Ralph L. Stevenson, U. S. Air Force

Serial Number 5028A

This certificate is awarded the above mentioned U. S. Air Force Colonel. Colonel Stevenson, who served as the Personnel Staff Officer from June 1, 1954 to June 15, 1955, made great contributions to the growth of the Republic of Korea Air Force. Colonel Stevenson set up and implemented thorough plans for the efficient relocation of the U. S. Air Force out of K-16 Air Base and transfer of the vast amount of the existing facilities and equipments of K-16 Air Base to the Republic of Korea Air Force to help the ROK Air Force carry out military operations more effectively. In summary, since the ROK Air Force Headquarters was relocated to K-16 Air Base, the ROK Air Force made great developments strategically and administratively. As such, Colonel Stevenson made great contributions to the advancement of the ROK Air Force. Hereby to recognize his exceptional efforts, the Minister of Department of National Defense, under the authority vested by the President of Republic of Korea and according to the Presidential order II, awards Decoration of Gold Choongmoo Military Merit along with this certificate.

June 15, 1955

According to the order of the President of Republic of Korea

Son, Won Il, the Minister of Department of National Defense

This certificate is registered in the record book of the order of military merit under Serial No. 2083. (Certified by) The Chief Director of the General Affairs, Yang, Jeong Su

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello C54PLM,

What an awesome medal. I am researching Korean medals given to foreign servicemen, and I was wondering what number does your fathers medal have on the back?

Kind regards


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now