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Certificates Honor Cold War Warriors

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21, 1999, Jan. 21, 1999 – Between 18 million and 22 million former and current service members are eligible to receive certificates honoring them for their parts in winning the Cold War.

The Army -- the executive agent for the program -- will start taking applications on April 5. The Army will accept applications for the certificate by Internet (at https://coldwar.army.mil/), e-mail, fax and mail. Shari Lawrence, a U.S. Army Total Army Personnel Command spokesperson, said the addresses will be released around March 15.

"If we put the addresses out now, people will start sending in applications and we're not ready to accept them yet," she said. Applicants must use fax or mail to submit supporting documents.

The Army has printed 1 million certificates. "We just don't know how many people will apply for the certificates," Lawrence said.

Persons are eligible for the recognition certificate if they have military or civilian service with the War, Navy or Defense departments between Sept. 2, 1945, and Dec. 26, 1991.

Applicants with citing military service can present the following records as proof: DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release/Discharge from Active Duty); WD AGO Form 53-55 (War Department Separation Document); or Oath of Office -- Military Personnel or Letter of Appointment. Copies of these records can obtained by writing to:

National Personnel Records Center
(Military Personnel Records)
9700 Page Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.

Qualifying civilian service can be proved with a Standard Form 50 (Notification of Personnel Action); Standard Form 2809 (Health Benefit Registration Form); an award certificate with employee's name, name of service or agency, and dates; or retirement forms with the employee's name, service or agency and dates. Federal civilian personnel may obtain employment verification or copy of their records by writing to:

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Employee Service and Record Center
P.O. Box 45
Boyers, PA 16017-0045.

When the Army provides the address information to apply for the certificate, officials said supporting documentation should not include originals for they will not be returned.

The Cold War was the superpower confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. Both powers possessed nuclear weapons and, had they used them, all life on Earth would have ended. Yet the two powers confronted each other in other ways.

Sept. 2, 1945, marked the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. The Cold War threatened at times to turn hot, and though there was little shooting, there were casualties.

In 1948, Soviet leader Josef Stalin ordered a land blockade of the western sector of Berlin. An airlift led by U.S. pilots kept a city of 2.5 million people alive.

In 1949, the growing Soviet threat led the Western Allies to establish the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Soviets quickly countered with the Warsaw Pact.

In 1950, the Cold War turned hot in Korea as U.S. forces along with U.N. allies battled first the Soviet-supplied North Koreans, then the North Koreans and their Chinese allies. More than 33,000 U.S. service members died before the warring sides signed an armistice in 1953.

In 1959, the Soviets shot down a U.S. U-2 spy plane that was on a mission over a Soviet city.

In 1962, the Soviets placed intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, triggering a confrontation with the United States. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev backed down after President John F. Kennedy imposed a quarantine around the island.

Through the 1960s and into the 1970s, U.S. troops fought in Vietnam -- another instance of the Cold War turning hot. By the fall of Saigon in 1975, more than 55,000 Americans died.

The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1978. The United States supported guerrilla factions fighting the Soviet occupation.

In 1983, a Soviet fighter shot down a Korean Air Lines 747 that strayed into Soviet airspace. All aboard were killed.

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