Full Version: Bronze star (campaign) versus the Bronze Star medal
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

Well, even though these topics are interspersed throughout the forum, thought is was time I touched on this topic and compared the two, for this is a constant point of contention and confusion. I can't tell you how many letters I get from people telling me that their father received four Bronze Stars during the war, etc. Well...



Leave it to the Army to confuse the hell out of ya! Couldn't we have come up with another name, etc. for these? C'mon now!!!


There are two different types of Bronze/bronze stars.


  • The first one is actually an awarded MEDAL -

    For heroic or meritorious achievement of service, not involving aerial flight in connection with operations against an opposing armed force.
    Authorized on February 4, 1944 the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of all branches of military service and may be awarded either for combat heroism or for meritorious service.
It looks like this -
  • The 2nd kind were worn on the ribbon bar. For example if you see three bronze stars:
    They are "ribbon devices" for participation in major campaigns
    The three stars on an ETO ribbon means a veteran served in 3 campaigns in the European Theater of Operations. If a vet was in more than 5 campaigns - the bronze stars would've been replaced by one silver star.




Hope that helps clarify the confusion.



The ribbon rack you have there is interesting. You have a WWII vet (American campaign, WWII Victory, Army of occupation) who also has a Armed Forces Expeditionary medal (not a lot to go on there since it was awarded at several places) and the Viet Nam service medal. To get from WWII to Viet Nam, you had to make a detour through the Korean War time frame. Even if you didn't go to Korea, one still would have gotten the National defense medal (lower left) since it was given to all service members from June 1950 - July 1954. It was awarded again (and you would get one of those little bronze stars) in January 1961 through August 1974 for Viet Nam. The Viet Nam Service medal, however, was awarded for all who served in Viet Nam from 1958 through 1975. That would mean, to be in WWII, have the Viet Nam service medal BUT NOT have a bronze star on the National Defense medal you would have to be in the service from sometime during 1945 or earlier to, at the latest, 1961.


See the story those things can tell you?!

Oh yes, that was just one I grabbed at random from the web, just so people would have a visual reference. :-) Ah yes, they story something so simple, tells.


I have received several more letters this month telling me that their fathers had three bronze stars, or four bronze stars or, and I had to write back and clarify. It's like, sorry to burst your bubble, but it's not what you think.

Of course, now that I have looked at again, this rack HAS to be wrong. The first campaign that a campaign star was awarded for began 15 March 1962 (the Ides of March) for "Vietnam Advisory Campaign. He has three stars so clearly there would have been a star an his National Defense. Of course there are active duty folks who is see today that should have a star on it and don't. Or even more common, I will see an Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal with no campaign stars. The regulations are that every campaign you were in gets a star so the minimum you would have is one. Prior to the creation of the OIF medal, you got the GWOT (Global War on Terror - remember that?) Campaign Medal, which is what I received. You could trade it in for the OIF Medal (I didn't) for a while. If I had, I would have gotten two stars for being there over two time periods in the 9 months I was in country. It confuses a lot of people. I got it on my next trip (only 4 months that time) so it has one star on it since it covered only one time period.