The Cold War Victory medal was stripped out of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 - and with a final bit of irony, President bush vetoed the Authorization Act for other reasons. Our best strategy at this point is to get language for a Cold War Medal included in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2009 Call, e-mail, and fax your Senators/ Representatives and tell them this is needed. No more "certificates," no more "recommendations," just include the Cold War Medal in the final NDAA for 2009.

S.1097, the Cold War Medal Act of 2007 is still very much alive, and all senators need to cosponsor this bill to create strong support on a BIPARTISAN basis. At present, the bill has four cosponsors in the Senate - Clinton, Collins, Schumer, and Lincoln. We have asked McCain (AZ), Obama (IL),, Martinez (FL), Webb (VA) and Warner (VA), and Cornyn (TX), among others, to cosponsor S.1097 and get the Cold War Medal in the NDAA. Fax these and other Senators and remind them of the importance of their support. Include the Cold War Medal in the final NDAA for 2009. Cornyn is running for re-election to the Senate in Texas. McCain and Obama are running for President. Will they cosponsor S.1097 to support the Cold War Medal?

BELOW: Commercially available versions of the Cold War Commemorative Medal (not approved for wear on military uniform at this time):

Medal medal2

Foxfall Medals

Medals of America

Two versions of the Cold War Medal available from commercial sources.

Presentation of Cold War Victory Commemorative Medal in Memory of General A. Van Fleet at Arlingon Cemetery May 1, 2007.

History of the Cold War Medal

Several versions of a Cold War Victory Medal or Service Medal have been available for purchase, but have never been authorized for wear by the United States Government. Although the nature of such privately made medals are as commemorative medals. The two most popular seem to have been the Cold War Medal sold by the Foxfall Medals Company and the version sold by Medals of America. Links to both companies are provided in the “links” section of this website, but neither version is endorsed by the American Cold War Veterans organization – the links are provided for information only.

The fight for recognition of Cold War service with a medal goes back to the 1990s. In 1997, the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2008 included authorization of a Cold War Service Medal, but the medal was stripped out during the House-Senate Conference. However, the NDAA for that year did include language commending those who honorably served the United States Government in the Cold War.

In 1999, a Cold War Victory Medal was included in a measure introduced by Senator John Warner for himself, Mr. Phil Gramm, Ms. Hutchison, Mr. Lott, and Mr. Coverdell. The bill passed, but did not result in actual creation of a medal.

In 2001, the NDAA for 2002 passed both House and Senate with provision for a Cold War Medal, as well as a Korea Defense Service Medal. Pentagon opposition to these medals resulted in the final language of the NDAA being softened to a recommendation that the Secretary of Defense “consider authorizing” the two medals. Secretary Rumsfeld declined to approve them.

Korea Defense Service Medal - A Case in Point

The NDAA for 2003 included language authorizing the Korea Defense Service Medal (KDSM), resulting in the creation of the KDSM. The KDSM's cost to the Pentagon budget was miniscule, with only 192,000 KDSM medals being purchased by June 2006, at a unit cost of $1.41. Thus, with perhaps 92,000 KDSMs being issued to currently serving troops through military supply channels, only 100,000 of the medals were issued "on application" by individuals with prior service, reflecting demand by only about 5% of those eligible due to prior service. Current procurement of KDSMs runs about 38,000 per year.


The Cold War Medal Acts of 2003, 2005, and 2007 were introduced in the Senate by Senator Hillary Clinton, who serves on the Armed Services Committee. S.1097, The Cold War Medal Act of 2007, was cosponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), giving the bill bipartisan support. The Cold War Medal Act of 2007 is before the Senate Committee on Armed Services, and needs support.

DoD Policy on the Cold War medal

While DoD has opposed the Cold War Medal in the past, on the grounds that it would duplicate the Korean Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, their argument does not stand up to scrutiny.  The Medal would not “duplicate” other campaign awards, but rather recognize the global nature of the Cold War’s defense and deterrence for 45 years.  They further cite the Cold War Recognition Certificate as being available.

Our Comments:

Cost has also been cited as an objection in the past, but the experience with the KDSM and the certificate indicates that no more than 5% of those eligible would apply (i.e. 1.2 million), and that it could be made and distributed for no more than $5 per item. Thus, we believe the cost to the Government of a Cold War Medal would amount to no more than $6 million.

“The Certificate”

Authorized by Secretary of Defense William Cohen in 1999, this rather bland document is available to anyone who served during the Cold War as a US Government employee. This includes temporary employees of the Postal Service during the Holiday season, and thus the potential number of eligible is very large – perhaps in excess of 50 million people. Nowhere on the “certificate of recognition” is the term military service or national defense mentioned. The Office of the Secretary of Defense estimates that just over a million certificates have been issued. This amounts to demand by just over 2% of potential eligibles. They estimate that the certificates cost about $5 each to produce and distribute – about the same as we estimate the Cold War Medal would cost the government.

The Certificate will sunset in 2008. According to DOD, the certificate program will end in 2008. This would free staff and cost resources to support award of a Cold War Medal.

Continuing Military Operations 1945-91.

The Korean war, Vietnam, and Grenada were limited wars within the Cold War period. Expeditions also took place in the cold war context (Quemoy-Matsu, Korea 1966-74, Berlin 1961-62) and also in humanitarian rescue missions (Congo 1964). In the larger context, our defense effort included troop deployments to check Soviet military threats, continuous nuclear-armed SAC B-52 missions to provide retaliatory capability in event of a Soviet attack, and reconnaissance of hostile territory and waters by air and sea. ICBM and Air Defense sites provided a deterrent against Soviet attack of the United States, and were kept on a high state of alert. Research and Development to keep our defenses and offensive capability able to cope with increasing threats supported the continuing global US/Allied military operation.

Cold War operations and deployments were to counter overt, covert, and continuing moves by communist powers to achieve military and political objectives, and to prevent or counter military operations against the west. It included defense against Soviet bloc attack of the US and its allies, counter-insurgency operations in Europe (e.g., Greece), threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity of our allies (e.g., Norway, Turkey, Taiwan), enforcing the armistice in Korea, defense of western Europe under NATO, forced removal of soviet missiles from Cuba, defense against communist insurgencies in central America, and continuing reconnaissance by air, sea, and land which involved hazard and vigilance. It underwent changes over time, and lasted for over 45 years.
In 1949, General of the Army Eisenhower recommended to President Truman that the US forces in Germany and Austria be reinforced by sending 4 additional divisions to Europe, to bring them to the strength of 6 full divisions, to meet the Soviet threat and make our commitment to NATO credible. Two regular Army divisions plus two National Guard divisions (the 28th and 43rd) called up in 1950 were sent to Germany. The US NATO forces protected western Europe for over 40 years, and kept the peace until the Berlin wall came down in 1990. When West Germany joined NATO in 1955, it had no army. The US, British, and French forces provided the shield while the F.R.G. rearmed and trained its new forces.

No headlines, but just honest and faithful service undefined peacekeepers who stayed combat ready and willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. NATO had 21 divisions facing 175 soviet and Warsaw Pact divisions in 1955. Our troops stayed on alert, with their basic load of ammunition ready for war. Those troops in the Fulda gap had no illusions about their role undefined they would buy time for a counterstrike if and when war began.

Korea was a hot war, which was stopped by a truce in 1953. Since then, fully armed patrols, reconnaissance flights, and ships have carried out missions along the coast. The threat from North Korea has continued. ASA troops have constantly listened to enemy command nets and intercepted messages. Air and missile units in South Korea have been armed with nuclear weapons, and stood ready to use them if so ordered. US patrols have been ambushed, and North Koreans infiltrated south for sabotage and subversion. US military personnel have been constantly engaged in the collection and analysis of intelligence from hostile regimes in Asia, and provided the essential support that has prevented full-scale resumption of hostilities in Korea.

Quemoy and Matsu in the Taiwan strait were flash points, and US personnel were essential to containing communist China there. Before escalation of the war in Vietnam, US forces provided training and logistics to countries such as Thailand and Laos, and advisory and humanitarian missions in South Vietnam. These missions were not always recognized, but they were essential to our policy in the region.

In the United States and Canada, our strategic defense called for vigilance and devotion to duty. There were no medals of recognition for the NORAD troops who not only had to be on guard against surprise attack, but also against mistakenly triggering a launch based on erroneous signals. Troops in the USA maintained security at such locations as Ft. Meade, Ft. Detrick, White Sands Proving Grounds, SAC bases, Rocky Flats, and at Area 51 in Nevada. Research and Development improved our ability to respond to attack by Soviet or other forces. Our atomic veterans participated in essential testing of nuclear battlefield weapons, which our national leaders defined as part of our overall arsenal of "conventional weapons" in the 1950s. In fact, early war plans for Vietnam by the JCS included nuclear weapons, and such weapons were deployed in Europe and Korea, as well as at sea.

The Cold War was a unique period in our history, and deserves a unique medal. Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) called it the most significant victory since World War II. It did not often have the kinds of dramatic battles that make newspaper headlines. It was the day-in-day-out routine where a successful mission meant you returned safely to port after patrolling the coast of Communist China or North Korea, or landed safely after evading Soviet interceptors. President Kennedy termed it the "long twilight struggle, neither war nor peace." It called for dedication to duty, production of good intelligence, or manning a guard post along the border with East Germany through a harsh winter. Its casualties were less frequent, but real nonetheless.

But all Cold War soldiers, sailors, and airmen had very real missions. Some airmen lost their lives in shoot downs along the frontiers. The USS Thresher and USS Scorpion undefined submarines undefined went to dark and lonely graves in the sea, doing their duty. B-52s armed with nuclear weapons flew to their fail-safe points, ready to continue their missions and attack if not recalled. The USS Pueblo is an example of a mission gone wrong, when the North Koreans decided to strike. Many other such patrols went unacknowledged because they returned safely undefined but they faced the same hazards, daily, year-in-year- out. It's easy to dismiss this kind of service as "peacetime," but that misses the point. This was a different kind of service, a different kind of war, and it deserves recognition, not just a piece of paper but a tangible sign that can be worn and acknowledged. Our cold war veterans deserve nothing less.

The “Recognition Certificate” falls far short of the recognition such service merits. The certificate can be awarded to any government employee, whether they were flying a U-2 over Cuba or a civilian clerk in the GSA in Kansas City. A service medal, on the other hand, recognizes military service. Congress has recommended that a medal be authorized. The Department of Defense has never substituted a certificate for a service medal in the past undefined our brave service men and women deserve a medal for Cold War service.

We honor and appreciate those who serve today, all we ask is that our government honor the living who served during the dark days of the Cold War. It will cost something, but our government should never be cheap where honor is concerned.



BE IT RESOLVED, that the Korea Defense Veterans of America joins with other veteran service organizations and petitions The U.S. Department of Defense for award of a Cold War Victory Medal to all members of the U.S. Military that served between 2 September 1945 and 26 December 1991; and

WHEREAS, immediately after World War II we witnessed a polarization in relationship between the Soviet Union and the U.S. and its allies in that the Soviet Union, by physical force and other means, expanded its influence and control over Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Eastern Germany, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Manchuria, Outer Mongolia, North Korea, Romania, and Yugoslavia, annexed the Kurile Islands and the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and instigated problems in Cuba, Greece, Iran, Lebanon, and Turkey. The Soviet Union continued its expansionist movement and dominated Eastern Europe until 1991; and

WHEREAS, the Cold War initiated the largest arms race in history that included nuclear, chemical and biological weapons as well as fomenting low-intensity conflicts, proxy wars, assassinations and various forms of intimidation; and

WHEREAS, the Cold War Era time period was fraught with conflicts and wars stressing U.S. Armed Forces and their allies that included:

  • Soviets blockade of Berlin - 1948, leading to the Berlin Airlift
  • NATO created to deal with Soviet aggression and expansion - 1949
  • Atomic Bomb in Soviet hands - 1949
  • Korean War - 1950 to 1953 (UN intervention including U.S. Armed Services members)
  • Iran military coup - 1953 (U.S. backed)
  • Guatemala military coup - 1954 (U.S. backed)
  • Warsaw Pact - 1955 established as counter weight to NATO
  • Hungarian Revolution - 1956 (Soviet intervention 4 Nov 56)
  • Cuban Bay of Pigs Invasion - 1961
  • Cuban Missile Crisis - 1962
  • Taiwan Straights and Quemoy and Matsu Islands
  • Grenada - 1983
  • Angola Civil War (U.S. armed and funded surrogates)
  • El Salvador Civil War (U.S. armed and funded surrogates)
  • Nicaragua Civil War (U.S. armed and funded surrogates)
  • Afghanistan War; and

WHEREAS, the Cold War is officially considered ended; however, its fallout continues to surface and create tensions today in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Pacific Rim as a testament to its longevity and global impact; and

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Korea Defense Veterans of America, that we petition for award of a Cold War Victory Medal.

The VFW passed the following resolutions at the 108th National Convention, 2007:

#425 European Defense Service Medal

#428 Cold War Victory Medal (as amended)

#430 Expand the dates of Eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal to May 15th, 1975

#434 Recognition for Veterans Killed or Wounded in the Early Days of the Cold War.


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