Applying for the Korea Defense Service Medal Online

The KDSM is a service medal to give special recognition for the sacrifices and contributions made by members of the U.S. armed forces who have served or are serving in the Republic of Korea. Public Law 107-314 legislated the creation of a new medal to recognize military service in the Republic of Korea and the surrounding waters.

Members of the armed forces authorized the KDSM 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. The KDSM period of eligibility is July 28, 1954, to a future date to be determined by the secretary of defense. 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 non-consecutive days** or meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Be engaged in actual combat during an armed engagement, regardless of the time in the area of eligibility.
  2. Is wounded or injured in the line of duty and requires medical evacuation from the area of eligibility.
  3. While participating as a regularly assigned air crew member 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.
  4. 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 KDSM eligibility, the nonconsecutive service period for eligibility remains cumulative throughout the entire period.

The KDSM may be awarded posthumously, and only one award of the KDSM is authorized for any individual.

** If you were assigned to a HAWK unit in Korea, for more than 30 days, this makes you eligible for the medal.

You can have your military records reviewed, have a DD215 (correction to DD214 Discharge record) issued showing the eligibility of the KDSM, and have the medal sent to you. It can all be done on line. I will walk you through it, is very simple.

Go to the Military Records section of the National Archives. On this page is some details, instructions and info about who can access records, etc. At the top left of the page a big button that looks like this: (this one doesn't work, it is just pretend). Click on the real one and you will be taken to the page that starts asking you questions.

FIRST SCREEN (step 1): Here is where they give you all kind of that legal wording. Privacy Act language, Paperwork reduction Act language, and reassure you the rumor of them destroying records is not true. Fascinating reading (Yawn!) Read it if you want, then hit the button.

SECOND SCREEN (step 1 also): Here is where they start gathering information to find your records. Item 1 - They want to know if you are the veteran or the next of kin. So use the pull down menu and select "Veteran". Item 2 - this item becomes not applicable because you are the veteran. Item 3 - Use the pull down screen to select "Former Military Service". OK now zap that little button again, and lets move on.

THIRD SCREEN (step 2): Now they start narrowing down the search. Item 4 - Use the pull down menu to select your branch.... My choice was Army. Item 5 - What was your component? Active, weekend warrior or reserve? Chose the one that is correct and click it. Item 6 - Officer or Enlisted Item 7 - Use the pull down menu and choose "Military Awards/Decorations" Item 8 - will be "not applicable" Now here is where we say goodbye to the Navy, Marines or Coast Guard, because they have to do it by mail... I don't know why, because someone said so, I guess. So if you are Army or Air Force find that little button again and click on it.

FOURTH SCREEN (step 3): Now they get personal, Fill in your name (use your real name, NOT a nickname. Your records are not filed by Doc Smith, or Frenchy Boudreaux, or the every popular "Short") NOTE: Your social security may be your Service number. At some point they switched from Service Number to Social Security. If you remember your Service number give it to them, can't hurt. When you enter your Social Security Number don't put in any dashes, just the numbers. Also note how they want your birth date listed. They want it like civilians talk not military style. Go figure? After you have it all filled out, can you figure out what is next? I bet even 16D's know to click the button again. (Take it easy, I did my time as a 16D too, relax no offense intended... )

FIFTH SCREEN (still in step 3): They are going to make a certified copy of your DD214, here is where they want to know if you want copies and what kind do you want. Two kinds, one has everything the original had on it, the second has the 'sensitive' stuff taken off. That means if you were bad a few times, they will take that off. Your choice. But doesn't hurt to have extra certified copies around, like when applying for Vet benefits. They are free so take them. Click on the type you want. In the comment section we want to let them know the reason we are sending this request. If you want replacement medals for all of your awards, type in "Please provide Replacement Medals per updated DD214". The government will replace your awards and medals one time at no charge. If you want just the KDSM, type in "Please update DD214 and issue Korea Defense Service Medal for which I am entitled", or put both. The Personnel records center will verify what you are entitled to and send a request to another facility, that facility will mail you the medals. Now, wack that old button one more time.

SIXTH SCREEN (still more step 3): Chances are the address in your records is not where you are at now. So give them your correct mailing address. That second part just helps them locate you if they need to ask you a question. Fill it all in and, its time again.

SEVENTH SCREEN (hey we made it to step 4): Time to proof your work. Check everything again, make sure it is accurate. IF there is a mistake use the button to back up and make the corrections. Once it is all correct, time to send it off to St. Louis, MO where all the records are kept. One last time click the button.

EIGHTH SCREEN: This is a very important step. If you don't do this step, then nothing will happen, your request will just disappear. There is a law that says not just anybody can go tripping through your military records. Here is where you declare/verify/state that under penalty of perjury that what you said is true. Particularly that you are indeed the veteran in question. So print out that form, sign it and either fax it to the number given or mail it to the address given. Plus you can follow the progress of your request with that service request number.

(In this crazy world, even when you try to help someone you can get screwed, so here is the disclaimer: Individuals using this information do so at their own risk, information accessed through this online site is provided "AS IS" and without warranty, express or implied. Author makes no warranty as to the reliability, accuracy, timeliness, usefulness or completeness of this information.)