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UNITED STATES: THE COLD WAR MEDAL


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Photo by Vic Damon (3rd Armored Division Cold War Veteran).

BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE COLD WAR MEDAL.

Congress did not specifically authorize a medal for Federal service during the cold war, but limited its official recognition to the Cold War Recognition Certificate. This medal is intended for use by State Guard organizations, military and patriotic societies, and by private citizens who served during the Cold War. It has been adopted as an official medal of the Military Order of Foreign Wars. It offers a unique form of recognition specifically for citizen-soldiers and Federal civilian employees who served during the cold war. Interest in this medal has been strong, and many former service members have obtained it to place in a shadow box with their Federal and State military awards.

Period of Service.

The medal recognizes honorable service between the inclusive dates of September 2, 1945 and December 26, 1991.

Designer.

The Cold War Medal was designed by Nadine Russell, the Chief of Creative Heraldry at the Army's Institute of Heraldry and the designer of many campaign and service medals, including the Southwest Asia Service Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, and the Outstanding Military Volunteer Service Medal.

Symbolism.

Obverse:

The allegorical figure of Freedom sits upon a vantage point over-looking a landscape suggestive of the Fulda Gap, the anticipated point of attack by Communist forces in Europe during the Cold War. The Fulda Gap thus represents all territory subject to the threat of invasion or war. The sitting figure also alludes to a long-term and watchful military presence. She holds a sheathed Roman sword in her hand, point down. The sword represents military strength, and its being sheathed is symbolic of defensive military action. Her foot rests on a book, representing both history and law. To her right is an American bald eagle grasping a bundle of arrows and an olive branch. The eagle, symbolic of the United States, represents the principles of freedom. The arrows stand for the willingness to use force in support of freedom, and the olive branch alludes to the goal of peace. Behind the figure of Freedom, and on the horizon of the landscape in front of her, a sun rising in the east symbolizes the birth of a new era of peace and stability arising from the end of the Cold War. Superimposed over the geographic scene, and below the rising sun, is the inscription, Promoting Peace and Stability, which is taken from the wording on the Congressional certificate and which identifies the efforts recognized by the medal.

Reverse:

In the center of the medal, the inscription, IN RECOGNITION OF YOUR SERVICE, is enclosed within a stylized wreath of laurel, which represents honor. The wreath is tied at its base by a ribbon, the ends of which rise above a shield taken from the coat of arms of the United States. The dates 2 September 1945 - 26 December 1991, which are taken from the Congressional certificate, appear beneath the inscription.

Ribbon:

In the center of the ribbon there is a narrow stripe of red, repre-senting courage and the willingness to sacrifice life for freedom. This red stripe is bordered by a narrow stripe of gold, which alludes to honor and achievement. The gold is bordered by black, which stands for the threat of war, and the black is bordered by green, which represents growth, hope, and life. The green is edged in gold, which is bordered by white, the predominant color of the ribbon and which represents integrity and purity of purpose. The ribbon is edged in gold.

Criteria:

This medal may be worn by any individual for service in a component of the Armed Forces (including National Guard, State Guard, and Reserve Forces) and by civilian employees of the Government who contributed to the historic victory in the Cold War for any period between the inclusive dates of September 2, 1945 and December 26, 1991.

Background:

The Yalta conference was a wartime planning session among the Allies held on February 4-11, 1945. Its purpose was to re-establish the nations that had been conquered by Germany and to reach an agreement on the occupation of Germany following the war. The United States and Great Britain made significant postwar territorial concessions to the Soviet Union, little realizing that after the War the Soviet Union would seek to extend its influence and control through-out Eastern Europe. However, following the war cooperation with our former ally collapsed as the Soviet Union extended its power and influence over Albania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Outer Mongolia, parts of Manchuria and North Korea, Romania, and Yugoslavia. They also annexed the Kurile Islands and the southern half of Sakhalin Island and fomented trouble in Iran, Turkey, and Greece. Not only did the Soviets dominate Eastern Europe, it became clear that they had designs on Western Europe as well.

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill delivered his famous speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where he said, "It is my duty to place before you certain facts about the present position in Europe. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe." He went on to note that "Twice the United States has had to send several millions of its young men across the Atlantic to find the war; but now war can find any nation, wherever it may dwell between dusk and dawn."

On June 24, 1948 the Soviets imposed a blockade on Berlin. In order to avoid having to confront them directly, the United States initiated a massive airlift to provide the necessities of life to the 2.5 million residents of the city. In April of 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was established, and on May 12, 1949, the blockade ended. However, there was little time for celebration: in September of 1949 the United States learned that the Soviets had the atomic bomb, and the cold war escalated dramatically in its intensity.

The Soviet efforts were countered by the so-called "Truman Doctrine." President Truman took the position that, "It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures." This policy ushered in an era of American efforts to halt Russian expansion. George F. Kennan, a diplomat and scholar, advocated a policy of "long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment" based on the application of counterforce to the Soviet's expansionist efforts. This "containment policy" called for United States support in resisting Communist aggression throughout the world.

During the Cold War 325 Americans died as a result of hostile action; More than 200 airmen were killed by Communist air defenses, and more than 40 American intelligence aircraft were shot down, killing 64 Cryptologists and 40 crew members. Countless other Americans had their lives disrupted through military service in support of the Cold War. The Cold War was punctuated by such crises as the Berlin Airlift, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Berlin Wall, each of which brought the world to the brink of disaster. The tide turned on November 9, 1989, when it became officially legal for people to come and go as they pleased into West Berlin; the next day they began to tear the wall down. Finally, on Christmas day in 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed and the cold war ended. Through the dedication and persistence of an entire generation of Americans and their allies, a catastrophic nuclear war with the Soviet Union was averted, and principles of democracy ultimately began to take root in Eastern Europe. The Cold War medal celebrates this epoch, which will ultimately be regarded as one of the great events of the Twentieth Century.

HOW TO OBTAIN YOUR COLD WAR RECOGNITION CERTIFICATE

The Cold War medal was inspired by the Cold War Recognition Certificate created by Section 1084 of Public Law 105-85, approved on November 18, 1987 (The "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 1998"). This certificate recognizes "members of the Armed Forces and civilian personnel of the Government who served the United States during the Cold War."

How to Apply for the Cold War Recognition Certificate.

All eligible personnel must apply for the certificate on their own behalf. The Department of the Army is the Executive Agent for processing all applications. To access their web site click here, or to contact them by e-mail click here. You can also FAX them at 1-800-723-9262. Finally, you can send your request by regular mail to:

CDR, US Army Human Resources Command

Cold War Recognition, Hoffman II

ATTN: HRC-CWRS, 3N45

200 Stovall Street

Alexandria, Virginia 22332-0473

If you are no longer on active duty, your best bet is to obtain application procedures directly from the Army and then FAX them a copy of your DD-214 (Certificate of Release/Discharge from Active Duty). Please bear in mind that demand for the certificates has been extremely heavy, and it now takes a year for your application to be processed.

https://www.hrc.army.mil/site/active/tagd/c...war/default.htm

Kevin in Deva. :beer:

Edited by Kev in Deva
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There are, I believe, a number or privately designed and privately produced "Cold War" commemorative medals, from various manufacturers, filling this "gap". While there is a sort of quasi-official "nod" to this one, it is among that vast swamp of unofficial "commemorative" medals for those who feel they need just one more to pump up their chests.

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Hi Ed,

This medal is still under legislative review. At this time it is not an official award, but it could be in the future.

Most Cold War Vets who service time falls outside of the official time periods of Korea and Viet Nam have few more than a simple good conduct medal(if they did not get into trouble), if any medals or ribbons at all. Most lower enlisted personnel(four year enlistees) were not laden with chest candy, as we see on men and women today. One has to realize that these men and women woke up not knowing if the Soviets were going to cross the line. I am sure that you remember the Air Raid drills! I vaguely remember them at elementary school. For that reason, I personally feel that a Cold War Victory Medal is needed.

"While there is a sort of quasi-official "nod" to this one, it is among that vast swamp of unofficial "commemorative" medals for those who feel they need just one more to pump up their chests."

As far as further adding weight to our ribbon bars... You have to realize that I am at the upper eligibility limit of the medal. I came into the service in 1990. That places me at 17 years. I think that by the time the medal is passed(if it is), manufactured, and distributed, there will not be many remaining in uniform to wear it. For that reason, I disagree with the above quoted statement.

Here is some more information on the medal and where it stands in the process. It is a Cold War Veteran's Organization website:

<a href="http://www.coldwarveterans.com/cold_war_victory_medal.htm" target="_blank">http://www.coldwarveterans.com/cold_war_victory_medal.htm</a>

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Any of the commemoratives have been recognized by 3 or 4 different Guard associations. Several more are reviewing it.

I know that the Coast Guard members are not allowed to wear any non-official medals.

However, Lousiana Army National Guard is currently authorized to wear it. What other states have this medal?

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I agree that a Cold War Service Commemorative Medal, an officially recognized government issue medal, should be awarded. The real challenge will be informing the hundreds of thousands of people who qualify for the it, since the vast majority haven't been in the service for 20+ years.

Edited by Andwwils
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According to the OMSA website the Alaskan National Guard also recognize it. I am 99.9% certain that the Utah National Guard also allows it....and there's a well founded rumor that New Hampshire and Maine are considering it. :rolleyes:

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Commercial crap sold for profit is embarassing.

More to the point is the ERRONEOUS assumption that the Cold War is OVER.

Uhm, folks--

it's not.

http://gmic.co.uk/index.php?showtopic=22830

Indeed, after poisoning the President of the Ukraine, spreading mass radioactivity across European air travel, and other alarming manifestations

it's baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack. Different initials, same "organ."

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I served from 1961 - 1991, and don't see any real difference between this and the National Defense Service Medal. We're all wearing too much crap already. If this is approved by the services for wear by active duty members on the uniform, I'd take another look. Otherwise, it's just costume jewelry from my point of view.

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I served from 1961 - 1991, and don't see any real difference between this and the National Defense Service Medal. We're all wearing too much crap already. If this is approved by the services for wear by active duty members on the uniform, I'd take another look. Otherwise, it's just costume jewelry from my point of view.

Hugh: :beer:

Ed

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I served from 1961 - 1991, and don't see any real difference between this and the National Defense Service Medal. We're all wearing too much crap already. If this is approved by the services for wear by active duty members on the uniform, I'd take another look. Otherwise, it's just costume jewelry from my point of view.

...yes, but unless I'm mistaken, not every person who served during the Cold War is eligible for the NDSM. Those who served a long career would have qualified under the Vietnam and or Desert Storm era award periods, but there was a chunk of time in between when the NDSM was not authorized. I predict that this medal will eventually be authorized and the pattern actually made and awarded will be the same or similar to the one shown above. If that happens, the commemorative medals and the government issued certificates will become rather unique collectibles IMO. I would imagine that the certificates are rather scarce as I'm not sure many people bothered to apply for them...

...and yes, I agree that we currently wear too much crap...

Edited by Andy Hopkins
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Its interesting to see the various points about a new medal that 'commemorates' an event. My wife who served in the North Dakota National Guard first in an AA unit and then in a water purification unit (how elese can you get to Iraq as a woman? - but Desert Shield / Storm ended befroe her unit deployed, but her AA unit did - but she was a girl...long story) Anyhow - for her time in service on the weekends and two weeks a year she got.

Jump Wings

Rigger Wings

ARCOM

AAM

National Defense Medal

Basic Ribbon

and Sgt Stripes...

She does 'qualiy' for the Cold War medal - but she thinks that she got enough chest metal already

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Its interesting to see the various points about a new medal that 'commemorates' an event. My wife who served in the North Dakota National Guard first in an AA unit and then in a water purification unit (how elese can you get to Iraq as a woman? - but Desert Shield / Storm ended befroe her unit deployed, but her AA unit did - but she was a girl...long story) Anyhow - for her time in service on the weekends and two weeks a year she got.

Jump Wings

Rigger Wings

ARCOM

AAM

National Defense Medal

Basic Ribbon

and Sgt Stripes...

She does 'qualiy' for the Cold War medal - but she thinks that she got enough chest metal already

Sounds like she did a lot of training to get the wings! I am very impressed! The wings are qualification designators, not decorations. How did she feel about not deploying with her unit? What years was she in service?

How many years did she do in the National Guard? This medal is not an official award yet, so there are no official requirements.

Andy is right... many Cold War vets dont have more than a Good Conduct medal(If they did not screw up!).

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Sounds like she did a lot of training to get the wings! I am very impressed! The wings are qualification designators, not decorations. How did she feel about not deploying with her unit? What years was she in service?

How many years did she do in the National Guard?

I threw the wings as in decorations as she had to earn them and in some respects are just chest salad. She was young and using the Natl Guard to pay for school and a new Jeep with big wheels... Now as a mother of two, its hard to imagine her jumping out of perfectly good ariplanes, unloading the belt on an M60 or gutting a training dummy with a bayonet. She got the jump and rigger wings from the AA unit as she was chosen to be the chute packer for the target drone. But by the time that she got back they switched to the blast it appart and glue it back together syrofoam drones - no need for a chute on that one.

She served from 1989 to 1993 then went inactive and discharged in 1997. For her it was the sense of adventure at the time - doing something 'real' as one had been training for the moment. Everyone in her old AA unit survived and came home just fine, but it was a little sour as they kicked her out for the deployment of desert shield as she was a woman and they didnt want women in a front line unit. So she got the next best thing in water purifucation. But the war ended before she could deply. But for what she missed her brothers made up for - all three have deplyed in Iraq, two of them twice, one heavily decorated for combat (IMHO)

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  • 2 months later...

I served from 1961 - 1991, and don't see any real difference between this and the National Defense Service Medal. We're all wearing too much crap already. If this is approved by the services for wear by active duty members on the uniform, I'd take another look. Otherwise, it's just costume jewelry from my point of view.

AMEN Hugh.....agreed, if it was something approved then it becomes a different story, but as it stands, it's a novelty to show my kids and someday grandchildren....actually the certificate is garbage as well. I think my nephew could have created something more appropriate than the bland uninspiring check the block certificate that came in the mail.

My $.02

Tony

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