Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps: Part 8

In the eighth edition of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps, we move forward in time to cover the Korean and Vietnam Wars as well as modern campaigns such as the Persian Gulf War and Kosovo.  Follow along as we delve into each streamer and the qualifications for award.

National Defense Service

Established in 1953 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the National Defense Service streamer is awarded to units that served honorably during a period of national emergency during a time of conflict or war. Designed to be a “blanket” streamer, the streamer was originally issued to units for which there was no official recognition. Currently, the streamer is authorized for award for the following periods: Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and Global War on Terrorism. Because the Global War on Terrorism is still ongoing, the National Defense Service streamer is still being awarded today to units that serve honorably.

Korean Service

Established in 1950 by President Harry Truman, the Korean Service streamer recognizes participation in the Korean War. The streamer is awarded to units that “performed duty in the Republic of Korea, between June 27, 1950 and July 27, 1954.” There are thirteen official campaigns recognized by the United States Department of Defense in the Korean War and Marines took part in twelve of them. Because of this, the national streamer for the United States Marine Corps is adorned with two silver stars, each representing six campaigns. 

Armed Forces Expeditionary

Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Armed Forces Expeditionary streamer is awarded to units in recognition of “any military campaign of the United States for which no other service streamer is authorized.” The streamer acts as a “blanket” award to recognize duty that was performed for which there are no formal awards; therefore, this streamer covers a broad spectrum of duty, however the duty must fall within one or more of three specific categories: “U.S. military operations; U.S. military operations in direct support of the United Nations; and U.S. operations of assistance to friendly foreign nations.” Because the streamer is so broad in its criteria for award, participants in the early years of the Vietnam War were given the Armed Forces Expeditionary streamer instead of the Vietnam Service streamer. When the Vietnam Service streamer was created in 1965, units were given the option to exchange the Armed Forces Expeditionary streamer for it, therefore, some units may have received the award, however it is not adorned on the flag staff because it was subsequently exchanged.

Vietnam Service

Established in 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Vietnam Service streamer is awarded in recognition for “military service during the Vietnam War”. In order to receive the streamer, the unit must have “served on temporary duty for more than 30 consecutive days, or 60 non-consecutive days, attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days with an organization participating in or directly supporting ground (military) operations or attached to or regularly serving for one, or more, days aboard a naval vessel directly supporting military operations in the Republic of Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos within the defined combat zone.” The dates that the service had to be performed between are as follows: November 15, 1961 and March 28, 1973, and from April 29, 1975 to April 30, 1975. The single date in April of 1975 is the historic “Fall of Saigon”, in which the capital of South Vietnam was captured, marking the end of the Vietnam War and the beginning of a reunified Vietnam.

Southwest Asia Service

Established in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush, the Southwest Asia Service streamer is awarded to units in recognition of their service during the Persian Gulf War. In order to receive the streamer, the unit must have served in support of Operation Desert Shield or Operation Desert Storm in at least one of the following areas: Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea from north of 10° N latitude and west of 68° E longitude, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates. The dates that the service had to be performed between are August 2, 1990 and November, 30 1995. Units who served in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Syria or Jordan in direct support of combat operations between January 17, 1991 and April 11, 1991 are also eligible to receive the Southwest Asia Service streamer.

Kosovo Campaign

 Established in 2000 by President Bill Clinton, the Kosovo Campaign streamer recognized units that performed service in Kosovo between March 24, 1999 and December 31, 2013. In order to receive the award, the unit must be “participating in, or be engaged in direct support of, the operation for 30 consecutive days in the area of operations or for 60 non-consecutive days provided this support involves entering the area of operations.” Award of the streamer can be given in special circumstances for less than 30 days of service, provided one of the following criteria are met.

The unit or a member of the unit must:

“Be engaged in actual combat, or duty that is equally as hazardous as combat duty, during the operation with armed opposition, regardless of time in the area of operations;

While participating in the operation, regardless of time, is wounded or injured and requires medical evacuation from the area of operations.

While participating as a regularly assigned aircrew member flying sorties into, out of, within, or over the area of operations in direct support of the military operations.”

Stay tuned next week as we move forward in time to cover the: Afghanistan Campaign, Iraq Campaign, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary, Global War on Terrorism Service, Philippine Defense, and Philippine Liberation streamers. Be sure to check out the previous editions of our 10 part series below.


Tyler Berg About Tyler Berg
Tyler has over ten years of experience in the military and tactical industry. The son of company founder Steve Berg, Tyler grew up assisting with the business and absorbing everything about the industry. Having recently graduated from college with a degree in Business and Communications, Tyler has joined our team full time. Follow Tyler as he shares fresh perspectives on everything from military history to cutting edge tactical gear.

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