The United Nations Medal – An Overview

The United Nations was developed just after World War 2 in an effort for world peace. Governments joined this organization with its main headquarters in Manhattan, New York. Starting out, the U.N. had 51 member nations. That number is now 193.

The United Nations has stepped into many areas within world politics, with its main priority being peace for humanity. In doing so, the United Nations has sometimes used member troops to aid in peace keeping, disaster relief and security.

Over the years, military service members from multiple countries have served in United Nation’s operations. In doing so, leaders within the United Nations agreed that those who participated should be awarded with a medal.

The first United Nations Medal created was the U.N. Korea Medal. It was awarded to any military service member who had participated in the defense of South Korea from the Communist regime in the North. A United States service member could not wear this medal until 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11139, which allowed United States service members to wear the United Nations Medal they were awarded.

At that time, a service member could wear the one type of United Nations medal that was approved. The medal itself is the same, but the standard ribbon at that time was blue with 2 whites stripes.

In 2003 George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13286 which states that a service member wears the U.N. Medal they first received, and any subsequent medals are noted by a bronze service star on the ribbon. If you see a Soldier with a United Nations Medal and 3 bronze stars, that would mean they have served in 4 United Nations operations.

When you meet a Soldier from another country who is wearing the same medal, you will realize they were also a part of a United Nation’s operation.

To be eligible, as a United States service member to receive the United Nations Medal, you must have served a minimum of 90 days in any of the following U.N. Operations:

  • UNMSS – U.N. Special Service

  • UNOGIL – Lebanon

  • UNMIH – Haiti

  • UNTSO – Palestine

  • UNOSOM – Somalia

  • UNMOGIP – India/Pakistan

  • UNIKOM – Iraq/Kuwait

  • UNSFH – Hollandia

  • MINURSO – Western Sahara

  • UNTAC or UNAMIC – Cambodia

  • UNPROFOR – Yugoslavia

The ribbons from these different operations can vary greatly. As a Soldier or officer, you can wear this ribbon with pride, because you are a part of bringing peace and security to a war-torn world. The United Nations medal is the same and is bronze with the United Nations emblem the front. Above the emblem are the letters UN. On the reverse side is the inscription: In The Service Of Peace.

Have you been awarded the United Nations Medal? Do you know someone who has? If so, we would like to hear your story. Please tell us what U.N. Operation you were a part of, and share any other information.

Thank you for your service in trying to bring peace to this world.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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