In the mid 1990’s, the world took notice as Kosovo and surrounding areas became a fuse just waiting to be lit. There had always been strife between the Serbian people and the Albanian communities within Kosovo, but when Josip Broz Tito took power in 1945, his Socialist government seemed to create a division with equal power.
His control kept tensions from rising, but after Tito died in 1980, chaos within Kosovo became the norm. Due to the fact that Kosovo was supposed to be Communist, the protests and upheaval were creating a stir in other Communist countries. This is when the Yugoslav government stepped in. They controlled Kosovo with an iron fist.
Throughout the 1980’s and early to mid 1990’s, Kosovo was a country with high stress and tension. The differences between Serbs and Albanians was always at the forefront, and it was only a matter of time before the tension would all come to a head.
In 1998, the Yugoslav government who was controlling Kosovo was being consistently attacked by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Kosovo turned into a major war zone, and many innocent civilians were being killed. President Bill Clinton declared a national emergency on June 9th, 1998, and on September 24th, NATO issued an activation warning.
A book could be written about the complexities of this war. This article is not about that. Essentially, troops aligned with NATO were sent to Kosovo, and upon doing so, a NATO Kosovo Medal was an award given to Soldiers who were called into the chaotic filled country. These are 8 cool facts about the NATO Kosovo Medal:
1: Executive order #11446 from January of 1969 allowed the Secretary of Defense the ability to allow United States service members to wear the NATO Kosovo Medal which is not a United States issued award.
2: The NATO Kosovo Medal was awarded to participants in any of the following operations:
Kosovo Task Force Hunter
Kosovo Task Force Falcon
Kosovo Task Force Saber
Kosovo Task Force Hawk
3: The manufacturers of the NATO Kosovo Medal were Eekelers/Centini International from Hemiksem, Belgium. I had to mention that since my family originated from Belgium.
4: To be eligible for the NATO Kosovo Medal, a service member had to have at least 30 days of service from October of 1998-December of 2001 within Kosovo, Yugoslavia, Albania, Former Republic of Macedonia, or in the Adriatic or Ionian Seas.
5: If a service member worked within Italy, Hungary or Greece as support for Kosovo operations, they would need a total of at least 90 days of service to receive the NATO Kosovo Medal.
6: Aircrew who flew in Operation Allied Force will receive the medal after flying 15 sorties, or missions during the operation.
7: The back of the NATO Kosovo Medal reads in English: In Service of Peace and Freedom. In French, it reads: Au Service De La Paix Et De La Liberte.
8: With NATO forces still within Kosovo and the Balkans, this means some service men and women are stationed there. They cannot receive the NATO Kosovo Medal, but a similar medal was commissioned. It is the Non-Article 5 NATO Medal for Balkan Operations. This medal’s design is quite similar to the NATO Kosovo Medal.
Do you have a NATO Kosovo Medal? Please share in what year and operation you earned it.