Retroactive Combat Action Ribbon
March 21, 2000

 04/01/02 - Shipmates: Hopefully this will clear up the issue of whether there is or is not a cold war Medal. 

 WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Department of Defense will not be creating a Cold War Service medal, and commemorative medals being sold by private vendors are not authorized for wear on military uniforms, defense officials said.

 "After careful consideration, it was decided not to create a medal," said Brad Loo, deputy director of Officer and Enlisted Management Personnel for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. 

"Throughout the Cold War years, commanders used a full spectrum of individual, unit and service awards to recognize the achievements and >sacrifices of service members," he said. Former Secretary of Defense William Cohen approved a Cold War Recognition Certificate in 1999, and the >Army, as executive agent, has been responsible for issuing them to any eligible applicant.  

The certificate recognizes all service members and federal employees who faithfully served in the U.S. military during the Cold War era, Loo added. For certificate purposes, that era is the end of World War II, Sept. 2, 1945, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, Dec. 26, 1991. 

Last year, someone began sending e-mail to people informing them of the approval of a Cold War medal, as shown in an attached picture, said Arlette King, chief of policy for the Army Award Branch. 

"We've tried to correct the issue by putting out messages on our Web site stating that there is not an authorized medal," King said. Several different designs of medals are offered on the Internet -- and even at military clothing sales stores. "This is America. Anyone can purchase the commemorative medal from private vendors, just not wear it on his or her uniform." 

It's illegal to wear unauthorized medals on a military uniform, said Army Master Sgt. Kittie Messman, uniform policy noncommissioned officer for the Office of the Army deputy chief of staff for personnel.

Messman cited Title 18, Section 704, "Military Medal or Decorations": "Whoever knowingly wears a medal not authorized by Congress...shall be fined or imprisoned not more than six months or both." 

The only official site to apply for a Cold War Recognition Certificate is the Army's Web site at Any other sites offering certificates, replicas or other commemoratives for sale are neither official nor endorsed by Department of Defense or any of the individual services.  


[ Cold War update from Bob  01-04-02 ] 

I have received a number of emails about the CWM and have found one thing, there sure is a lot of misinformation out there on the Cold War Medal. Hopefully the below will help clear up some of the misinformation and give you a status on where they are in the approval process.

COLD WAR Service

In accordance with section 1084 of the Fiscal Year 1998 National Defense Authorization Act, the Secretary of Defense approved awarding Cold War Recognition Certificates to all members of the armed forces and qualified federal government civilian personnel who faithfully and honorably served the United States anytime during the Cold War era, which is defined as Sept. 2, 1945 to Dec. 26, 1991.
I've received some e-mails recently concerning a COLD WAR Service Medal. I've done a little research and see that anyone should be eligible to receive a COLD WAR Service Certificate from the Department of Defense for military service during the defined period. It appears that Congress has not authorized awarding any medal for service during the Cold War as of this writing, although a Cold War Medal exists for purchase from some civilian companies. I have listed a couple of websites that you might find useful
regarding this subject. This site is the official website and contains information on how to apply. I have attached the sample letter contained in this site in WORD format for your use if you desire. This site contains additional information about the COLD WAR medal and the status of approval.

[ Information received 04/04/00 from Robert Hoag, II ]

RETROACTIVE COMBAT ACTION RIBBON ELIGIBILITY FOR NAVAL VETERANS FROM 1941 TO 1961 ANNOUNCED Navy and Marine Corps veterans who served in combat in or after World War II are now eligible to receive the Combat Action Ribbon (CAR). Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig has recently authorized this award for those who served in combat, but never received their CAR. "At a time when we are focusing on the contributions of these great Americans, this seems especially fitting," said Danzig.

In order to be eligible for the CAR, veterans must have participated in ground or surface combat after Dec. 6, 1941, but before March 1, 1961, and cannot already have been recognized for the same participation. Under Public Law 106-65, Danzig can award the CAR to veterans retroactively. The time period required for submission is being waived in all cases. 

Two blocks of time have been designated by Danzig for eligibility of the CAR;

World War II: Dec. 7, 1941 - April 14, 1946
Korea: June 27, 1950 - July 27, 1954

Navy Veterans who served during these periods may write directly to the Navy Awards Branch for settlement at: 

    Chief of Naval Operations (N09B33)
    2000 Navy Pentagon
    Washington, D.C. 20350-2000

The following information must be provided: 

Standard Form 180 or cover letter with the following information:
  • full name
  • social security number
  • service number (if applicable)
  • period of eligibility
  • unit assigned at the time
  • mailing address
  • Copy of Naval Personnel Form 553 or Defense Department (DD) Form 214; DD-215 (if applicable).
Additional substantiating documentation (optional):
  • copies of combat awards
  • copies of evaluations
  • muster sheets or orders showing assignment to the unit for the period requested.
A special section will handle these requests, but no other awards may be requested in conjunction with the CAR. Only CAR requests dated after March 15, 2000, and in accordance with the prescribed guidance will be forwarded to the board for decision. Any prior requests must be resubmitted. If a veteran cannot provide the required documentation, a request for personal record information must be submitted to the St. Louis Records Center before submitting the request to the Navy Awards Board. If a veteran desires to address a different period of time, a request to review the period may be sent, with substantiating documentation, to the Navy Board of Decorations and Medals at the above address.