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Congress Authorizes Korean Defense Service Medal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2004 – A satellite photo Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld showed the Senate Armed Services Committee recently graphically depicts why Congress authorized the Korean Defense Service Medal.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
The new Korean Defense Service Medal will be available for eligible service members who served in Korea from July 28, 1954, to a future undetermined date.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Rumsfeld showed the senators a photo taken at night and the entire southern half of peninsula is bright with light. Almost the entire north is dark. "The (demilitarized zone) is the line in the middle," Rumsfeld told the senators during the budget briefing Feb. 4.

"South Korea has got light and energy and opportunity and a vibrant democratic system. North Korea is a dark, dark country. The little dot of light to the left in the center of North Korea is Pyongyang."

The new medal is America's way "of recognizing the tremendous accomplishments," said a Pentagon spokeswoman, of service members who served in Korea from July 28, 1954, to a future undetermined date. "The Republic of Korea is prosperous, free and democratic because of the sacrifices of generations of Americans in that land," she added.

Officials say the medal should be available at the beginning of June. Those currently on active duty will receive the medal via their units. Those retired or out of the service may apply through contacting their former service branches. Officials said the services are still working out procedures for applying for the award.

To qualify for the medal, service members must have served in support of the defense of the Republic of Korea. The area of eligibility encompasses all land area of the Republic of Korea, and the contiguous water out to 12 nautical miles and all air spaces above the land and water areas.

Service members must have been assigned, attached or mobilized to units operating in the area of eligibility and have been physically deployed in the area of eligibility for 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days or meet one of the following criteria:

  • Be engaged in actual combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of eligibility;

  • Is wounded or injured in the line of duty and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility; and

  • Is participating as a regularly assigned air crewmember flying sorties into, out of, within or over the area of eligibility in support of military operations. Each day that one or more sorties are flown in accordance with these criteria shall count as one day toward the 30 or 60-day requirement.
Personnel who serve in operations and exercises conducted in the area of eligibility are considered eligible for the award as long as the basic time criteria is met. Due to the extensive time period for medal eligibility, the nonconsecutive service period for eligibility remains cumulative throughout the entire period.

The military may award the medal posthumously. Only one award of the medal is authorized for any individual.

According to DoD, more than 40,000 service members have been on South Korean land or adjacent waters each year since the July 1953 cease-fire establishing the DMZ.

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