The ongoing military tradition of presenting commemorative medals has been in effect mode since the Revolutionary War, which took place between 1775-1783, recognizing the sacrifices made by campaigns, for service, and during historical moments that were supported or participated in by veterans.
Commemorative military medals expanded even further when World War II veterans wanted medals to commemorate military events like D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.
Many commemorative medals have gone on to replace what were once ribbons, such as the Combat Action Ribbon and the U.S. Armed Forces Retired Service Commemorative Medal. Let’s take a look at a few prominent commemorative military medals. Out of literally hundreds that exist, the categories that they fall into, and identify what they stand for.
Commemorative Medals For All Services
Airborne and Air Assault Commemorative
In honor of all military members who gave their service to Airborne and Air Assault units.
Air Combat Action Commemorative
In honor of all United States Aircrew members who served in air combat.
Armed Forces Expert Marksman Commemorative
In honor of all US Armed Forces who have qualified as an expert marksman with any weapon.
Combat Service Commemorative
In honor of all Marines, Airmen, Sailors, and Soldiers who served in an overseas combat theatre or expeditionary combat operation.
Foreign Expeditionary Service Commemorative
In honor of all US Armed Forces who served in a foreign Expeditionary operation outside the United States.
NATO Service Commemorative
In honor of all US Armed Forces who served in Europe anytime from 1949 to present.
United Nations Military Service Commemorative
In honor of all US Armed forces who served in United Nations Operations or indirect support anytime from 1950 to present.
Individual Service Commemorative Medals
Air Force Commemorative
In honor of all personnel who have honorable military service in the US Air Force.
Army Service Commemorative
In honor of all Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Soldiers who have honorable service in the United States Army between 1775 and 2003.
Coast Guard Commemorative
In honor of all Officers, Petty Officers and seamen who have honorable service in the United States Coast Guard between 1789 to present.
Marine Corps Commemorative
In honor of all who have honorable military service in the US Marine Corps between 1775 and the present.
Global War on Terrorism Commemorative Medals
Global War on Terrorism Commemorative
In honor of those military and non-military personnel involved in the global war on Terror.
In honor of the troops that engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom from October 7, 2001, to the present, tense with its mission to dismantle the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization and its bases in Afghanistan.
Operation Iraqi Freedom Commemorative
In honor of those US military personnel involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom or directly supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the occupation of Iraq.
This decoration of the U.S. Department of Transportation was first created in 2002 and recognized members of the military and also civilians who performed heroic accomplishments during the early aftermath of the horrifically tragic September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Vietnam War Commemorative Medals
Defense of Vietnam Commemorative
In honor of all Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, and Airmen who served in South Vietnam or indirect support from Guam, Okinawa, Philippines, Thailand, or the waters offshore between 1960 and 1975.
Vietnam TET Offensive Commemorative
In honor of those engaged in the Tet Offensive that took place during the course of the Vietnam War.
Vietnam War Veterans Commemorative:
In honor of all U.S. Veterans who served in the Vietnam War.
Cold War Commemorative Medals
Cold War Commemorative
In honor of all those awarded the Cold War Certificate by the U.S. Government.
Cold War Victory Commemorative
In honor of all Airmen, Marines, Soldiers, and Sailors who served between Sept. 2, 1945, and December 26, 1991.
Korean War Commemorative Medals
Korean War 50th Anniversary Commemorative
This special commemorative military medal was authorized for wear during the 50th Anniversary of the Korean War to honor those who gave their service.
Korean War Commemorative
In honor of those who gave their service during the Korean War.
World War II Commemorative Medals
World War II VIctory in Europe 50th Anniversary Commemorative Medal
In honor of all Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, and Airmen who served in the European, African, and Middle Eastern Theatres during WWII.
World War II Iwo Jima Veteran Commemorative
In honor of those who were committed to service during the battle for Iwo Jima during World War II.
WWII French Normandy Commemorative
The official French medal was given to Veterans that returned to Normandy for the 50th Anniversary of WWII celebration.
WWII Philippine Defense Medal
Presented to any service member of either an allied armed force or the Philippine military who participated in defense of the Philippine Islands between December 8, 1941, and June 15, 1942.
This collection of commemorative military medals only scratches the service of how many there are out there that have been presented to the brave and heroic personnel of the various branches of the United States military.