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How Long is Navy Boot Camp? What to Expect


In 1994, Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes became the U.S. Navy’s only recruit training facility. Better known as “boot camp,” recruit training involves a change in the mental and physical capacity of the new recruit. From the first day at RTC through graduation day when new sailors depart, recruits find themselves in a whirl of activity.

How long is Navy boot camp? Within the past year the length of U.S. Navy basic military training (BMT) has been extended from eight weeks to ten.

“We’ve added more leadership and professional development to the basic training toolkit, which sailors can rely on throughout their careers,” said Rear Adm. Jennifer Couture, commander, Naval Service Training Command in a 2022 press release. “This additional training reinforces character development with a warfighting spirit so our Navy is strong, lethal and ready.”

“Sailor for Life,” a new training phase in the additional two weeks, provides recruits with more training in mentorship, small-unit leadership, advanced warrior toughness training, and professional and personal development through the Navy’s MyNavy Coaching initiative.

“The additions were the result of fleet feedback and the hard work of all the staff here at RTC and throughout the Navy,” said Lt. Cmdr. Katy Bock, military training director, Recruit Training Command in a 2022 Navy press release. “Every recruit now graduates with more tools and skills to make them more effective and combat ready Sailors.”

Recruit Training Command continually builds on what it means to be a basically trained sailor. The 10-week BMT program enhances RTC’s ability to supply the Navy with basically trained, engaged and connected warfighters.

When the young men and women arrive at RTC, they know the answer to the question, how long is Navy boot camp? Their recruiters have prepared them.

The recruits are formed into divisions and assigned Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs). During the first week, known as in-processing days, forms are filled out, medical and dental exams given, inoculations administered and haircuts received. During their stay at RTC, the RDCs work together to mold the new recruits into sailors. RDCs are chief petty officers or senior petty officers specially selected for their leadership and teaching abilities. They represent and teach Navy tradition, customs and discipline.

Recruit training is not an endeavor to be taken lightly. The workload is heavy and the recruits must adjust to a completely new way of life. Classroom and skills instruction give recruits information on how to adjust to and succeed within the Navy. In addition to classroom instruction, recruits spend time learning the fundamentals of small arms marksmanship, seamanship, water survival, line handling, and firefighting. Long days and intensive training leave recruits little free time.

During the first training week, divisions enter into the competitive aspects of training. Excellence in academic achievement, military drill, cleanliness and athletics all count toward earning recognition flags. Competition encourages teamwork and develops pride in achievement. The climax of the competitive series is the pass-in-review practice where the best divisions can earn Battle “E,” CNO or Hall of Fame honors. At this point in the training, few are likely asking how long is Navy boot camp?

Toward the end of training, recruits undergo a final evaluation called Battle Stations 21. This 12-hour event culminates in the award of a Navy ball cap to replace the recruit ball cap that each recruit wears during training. The symbolic change of hats indicates their status as sailors in the Navy.

Each week, the commanding officer of RTC hosts an impressive pass-in-review ceremony that attracts more than 175,000 visitors annually. The pass-in-review ceremony marks a recruit’s public recognition as an American sailor.

Through the 1920s and early 1930s, Great Lakes had only an air base and a radio school. Recruit training slowed to a crawl, and was even halted for a time.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese Imperial Fleet. At the time, there were just about 6,000 sailors training at Great Lakes. Six months later, there were 68,000. By September 1942, more than 100,000 Great Lakes sailors were in training. Back then, it is likely nobody was asking how long is Navy boot camp? And if they were, it was because they wanted to get into the fight.

Between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the surrender of Japan Aug. 14, 1945, more than one million sailors were trained at Great Lakes.

By 1950, the Cold War was under way. Very quickly, Great Lakes was as busy as it had ever been. In one week in 1951 the base graduated 98 companies of recruits, matching its record in World War II.

New RTC barracks, mess halls, classrooms, and staff offices, costing upwards of $8 million were built over the next decade. Those buildings served for nearly half a century before the current RTC rebuilding began in the late 1990s.

Navy SEALs began finding new people at RTC. The first experimental company of 37 recruits graduated in December 1967. They were chosen from 250 volunteers and given special recruit training to prepare them for the more rigorous SEAL training to come at Coronado and beyond. Many served in combat in Vietnam.

In 1987, RTC cut the ribbon for the Golden 13 Recruit In-processing Center which now greets every new recruit who joins the Navy.

In 1993, in the wake of the drawdown after Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the Base Realignment and Closure commission decided to shut down Naval Training Center Orlando and NTC San Diego. As a result, in 1998 began the RTC Recapitalization Program, the most ambitious building program at Great Lakes since its founding in 1905.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Great Lakes, RTC continued to do what it did in WWI, in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, training new sailors with a sense of purpose. Supplying the fleet with top-quality, basically-trained sailors ready for follow-on training.

If you ask most sailors about their memories of RTC, the likely won’t reply that they often asked themselves how long is Navy boot camp because these days they likely miss the time they spent at Great Lakes and their time in the Navy.

U.S. Navy Core Values: Honor, Courage, & Commitment


Navy Core Values Roots

When U.S. Navy sailors recite the Sailor’s Creed, they attest that they will serve with honor, courage, and commitment. Those three words are known as the Navy core values.

It is important to note though that the Navy core values of today have only been a part of the U.S. Navy culture since 1992 when the current Navy core values replaced the Navy core values of professionalism, integrity, and tradition that had been used as behavioral guideposts since the 1950s.

Throughout its history, the U.S. Navy has successfully managed its challenges. America’s naval service began during the American Revolution, when on Oct. 13, 1775, the Continental Congress authorized a few small ships. Esek Hopkins was appointed commander in chief and 22 officers were commissioned, including John Paul Jones.

From those early days of naval service, certain bedrock principles or Navy core values have carried on to today. Those three basic principles which were previously mentioned as honor, courage, and commitment, build the foundation of trust and leadership upon which the Navy’s strength is based.

The Navy believes that these principles on which the U.S. Navy were founded continue to guide sailors today. Every member of the Naval Service – active, reserve, and civilian, must understand and live by the Navy core values.

For more than 200 years, members of the naval service have stood ready to protect the nation and freedom. The Navy is ready to carry out any mission, deter conflict around the globe, and if called upon to fight, be victorious.  

Honor as one of the Navy core values

The Navy believes that sailors should be accountable for their professional and personal behavior. They should be mindful of the privilege they have to serve their fellow Americans. They are expected to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity, taking full responsibility for their actions and keep their word.

Sailors will conduct themselves in the highest ethical manner in relationships with seniors, peers and subordinates. They will be honest and truthful in their dealings within and outside the Department of the Navy.

Sailors are expected to make honest recommendations to their seniors and peers and seek honest recommendations from junior personnel. They will encourage new ideas and deliver bad news forthrightly. This will enable them to fulfill their legal and ethical responsibilities in their public and personal life.

It is important to note, that in the oath of enlistment/commission, the use of the phrase “I will bear true faith and allegiance ....” Accordingly, sailors are expected to conduct themselves with honor in the highest ethical manner in all relationships and abide by an uncompromising code of integrity.

Courage as one of the Navy core values

Courage is one of the Navy core values that gives sailors the moral and mental strength to do what is right, with confidence and resolution, even in the face of temptation or adversity. Sailors are expected to have the courage to meet the demands of their profession.

Sailors must make decisions and act in the best interest of the Department of the Navy and the nation, without regard to personal consequences. They are expected to overcome all challenges while adhering to the highest standards of personal conduct and decency. They must be loyal to the nation by ensuring the resources entrusted to them are used in an honest, careful and efficient way.

As previously mentioned, in the enlistment or commissioning oath, the phrase “I will support and defend ...” is used. Accordingly, sailors are expected to exhibit courage to meet the demands of their profession and the mission when it is hazardous, demanding, or otherwise difficult.  

Commitment as one of the Navy core values

In the oath of enlistment/commissioning, the phrase “I will obey the orders ….” Is used to swear in persons who plan to serve in the U.S. Navy. Accordingly, sailors are then expected to demand respect up and down the chain of command and care for the safety, professional, personal and spiritual well-being of naval personnel.

Sailors are expected to show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion, or gender and treat each individual with human dignity. Sailors must be committed to positive change and constant improvement exhibiting the highest degree of moral character, technical excellence, quality and competence. The day-to-day duty of every Navy man and woman is to work together as a team to improve the quality of their work, their people and themselves.

Navy core values in the Sailor’s Creed

The Sailor’s Creed is:

I am a United States Sailor. I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me. I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world. I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with Honor, Courage and Commitment. I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.

Navy core values in the oath of enlistment

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Navy core values in the officers’ oath

“I, _____ , having been appointed an officer in the _____ (Military Branch) of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” 

U.S. Navy Uniform Regulations You Don't Want to Forget

Policy of US Navy uniform regulations

The purpose of the US Navy Uniform Regulations is to provide descriptions of all autho­rized U.S. Navy uniforms and components, and to provide guidance for all Navy activities prescribing uniform wear in order to present a uniform image worldwide. It is issued by direction of the Chief of Naval Operations and carries the force of a general order. Any procedures or components, regarding uniforms or grooming, not discussed in these regulations are prohibited.

Applicability of US Navy uniform regulations

The provisions of the US Navy uniform regulations apply to all personnel who are authorized to wear the U.S. Navy uniform. U.S. Navy Uniform Regulation NAVPERS 15665J is issued for information and guidance, and requires compliance when wearing naval uniforms. The US Navy uniform regulations are the sole source for dictating how to correctly wear U.S. Navy uniforms and uniform components. It supersedes US Navy uniform regulation, NAVPERS 15665I dated August 25, 1995, and all other existing directives on navy uniforms. After January 1, 1996, Navy Uniform Regulations are distributed quarterly via BUPERS Directives and will contain revisions and updates to the 1995 manual. 

Changes to the US Navy uniform regulations

Sailors may make uniform or uniform regulation change recommendations via their chain of command to the Navy Uniform Matters Office. Recommendations are to be submitted in letter format with subject line REQUEST FOR UNIFORM BOARD POLICY CHANGE. Recommendations should reflect navy-wide application with an eye towards standardization and uniform policy reduction. Uniform change proposals are to be endorsed via cover letter by each endorsing echelon. The final endorsement should include proposal Subject Matter Expert contact information. Uniform proposals which are not endorsed favorably at any level will not be accepted by the office. Proposals favorably endorsed shall be submitted to Navy Uniform Matters Office, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (N13X), 701 S. Courthouse Road, Arlington, VA 22204-2164.  More information is available in the US Navy uniform regulations.

Enforcement of the US Navy uniform regulations

The US Navy uniform regulations define the composition of authorized uniforms. Navy uniforms are distinctive visual evidence of the authority and responsibility vested in their wearer by the United States. The prescribing authority determines when and where the uniforms in the manual are appropriate for wear. Uniforms and components shall be worn as described in these US Navy uniform regulations. Navy personnel must present a proud and professional military appearance that will reflect positively on the individual, the Navy and the United States. While in uniform, it is inappropriate and detracts from a professional military appearance for personnel to have their hands in their pockets. Additionally, when walking from point to point while in uniform, it is inappropriate and detracts from a professional military appearance for personnel to be smoking or using tobacco products, or to be eating and/or drinking. All personnel shall comply with these regulations and be available to teach others the correct wear of navy uniforms. Exemplary military appearance should be the norm for uniformed personnel. These US Navy uniform regulations describe all authorized U.S. Navy uniforms and the proper manner for their wear.

US Navy uniform regulations concerning headgear

The cap/hat is an integral part of the uniform. Uniform headgear is not required to be worn when ships are at sea outside harbor limits, except on specific watches or on ceremonial occasions specified by the commanding officer or higher authority. Uniform headgear is required in port, unless safety prohibits wear, i.e., foreign object damage (FOD).

Outdoors, personnel remain covered at all times unless ordered to uncover, or during religious services not associated with a military ceremony. Personnel remain covered during invocations or other religious military ceremonies such as changes of command, ships’ commissioning and launchings, and military burials, etc. The chaplain conducting the religious ceremony will guide participants following the customs of his church.

Indoors, personnel shall remain uncovered at all times unless directed otherwise by higher authority for a special situation/event. Those service members in a duty status and wearing side arms or a pistol belt may only remove headgear indoors when entering dining, medical or FOD hazard areas or where religious services are being conducted.

A military cover may be removed when entering, departing, or while riding or driving on and off base in a privately owned vehicle (POV) or bicycle. As a military courtesy, covers should be worn by the driver of a POV when entering a military installation if required to return a salute. When riding a bicycle on or off base, wearing a safety helmet may be required by local safety instruction. 

Male and female sailors undergoing medically prescribed health treatment or care that results in a drastic loss of hair, or the scalp becomes too sensitive to wear wigs/hair pieces, military covers, protective head gear or equipment are authorized to wear fabric head coverings (solid colors of black, khaki/tan, navy blue or white). Medically prescribed head coverings will match the color of the military cover prescribed for wear with the uniform being worn. The need to wear fabric head coverings must be medically documented and prescribed by appropriate military healthcare providers.

US Navy uniform regulations and shipboard restrictions

Sailors will not wear 100 percent polyester uniforms (certified navy twill) in any operating fire room. Wear only flame-retardant clothing when engaged in hot work such as welding or brazing, and when exposed to open flame, such as during boiler light‑off operations, or spark producing work such as grinding.
Females will not wear skirts or dress shoes (pumps/heels) aboard ship. The wearing of skirts or dress shoes (pumps/heels) is not prescribed or optional aboard ship. These items may be stored aboard ship optionally at the discretion of the service member and worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship.

Sailors cannot wear poromeric (also known as corfam) shoes aboard ship for normal daily operations. Poromeric shoes may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

Sailors may not wear V-neck/sleeveless undershirts aboard ship for normal daily operations. V-neck/sleeveless undershirts may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

Sailors will not wear acrylic V-neck sweater aboard ship as an outer garment during daily operations. Acrylic V-neck sweater may be worn when immediately departing or returning to the ship, or when specifically authorized by the commanding officer.

For men, earrings are not authorized while in uniform or in civilian attire when in a duty status. Earrings may be worn with civilian clothing while in a leave or liberty status on or off military installation and when travelling in a government vehicle, or while participating in any organized military recreational activities ashore unless otherwise prohibited by prescribing authority.

For the latest US Navy uniform regulations updates, visit this page.

10 Facts About the U.S. Coast Guard You Didn't Know

1. Medal of Honor facts about the Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard has one Medal of Honor recipient. U.S. Coast Guard Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro died heroically on Guadalcanal on Sept. 27, 1942 after he volunteered to evacuate a detachment of Marines who were facing annihilation by a large enemy force. He succeeded in safely extricating them, saving at least 500 Marines, and in doing so was mortally wounded.

In the engagement in which he gave his life, Munro had been in charge of the original detachment of ten boats that had landed Marines on a beach. Having successfully landed them, Munro led his small boat force to a previously assigned rally position. Almost immediately upon his return, he was advised that Marines were under attack from a larger Japanese force at the insertion point and that they needed to be extracted immediately. Munro volunteered to lead the boats back to beach for the evacuation.

Commanding the rescue expedition, he brought the boats in-shore under heavy enemy fire and proceeded to evacuate the Marines still on the beach. Though the majority of the Marines had been loaded into the boats, the last remaining elements of the rear guard were having difficulty embarking. Munro maneuvered himself and his boats into a position to cover the last groups of men as they headed to the boats. In doing so, he exposed himself to greater enemy fire and suffered his fatal wound. At the time it was reported that he had remained conscious long enough to utter his final words: “Did they get off?”

Munro was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

2. Facts about the Coast Guard Pulitzer Prize Winner

Alex Haley enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939 after attending college. Haley enlisted as a mess attendant third class since the mess attendant and steward’s mate ratings were the only ratings in the Coast Guard open to minorities at that time, according to the Coast Guard. He saw service in the Pacific Theater in 1944 and he made money with a side hustle penning love letters for his shipmates. He also freelanced and submitted articles about war duty and sea service for Coast Guard publications.

At one point, Haley became the only chief journalist in the Coast Guard, serving as the assistant public affairs officer at the Coast Guard’s New York City headquarters. In 1959, he retired from the Coast Guard after 20 years of service to pursue his dream of becoming a full-time writer. Seventeen years after his retirement, he published the international best-seller, Roots: The Saga of an American Family in 1976. The book was later made into a television mini-series. Haley died in 1992. He is the only uniformed public affairs officer to have a ship named after him.

3. Military facts about the Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard is not an organization in the Department of Defense, in fact, it used to be a part of the Department of Transportation until it was realigned under the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. It is considered, however, one of the U.S. Armed Forces and when federally mobilized for war, it falls under the Department of the Navy.

4. World War II facts about the Coast Guard

In 1942, a German U-boat surfaced off the coast of New York and deployed a  team whose aim was to sabotage U.S. industries. They would have succeeded if it wasn’t for Coast Guardsman John C. Cullen who was on beach patrol the day they came ashore.

Cullen found the men changing and accepted a bribe from them (to win their trust). He promptly reported the incident to the FBI. The men were all captured and this collar led to the foiling of a similar plot in Florida where another team of Germans was arrested.

5. Facts about the Coast Guard and floating weather stations

During World War II, the U.S. Coast Guard manned floating weather stations in the Atlantic. While this doesn’t sound like a precarious act, it was especially dangerous during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The Coast Guard deployed barely-armed ships on weather monitoring missions. The ships, for the most part, would float in one general area, collecting atmospheric data for use in operations.  This made them vulnerable to attack. In Sept. 1942, the Coast Guard Cutter Muckeget disappeared. It was later determined that the ship was sunk by a German torpedo. More than 100 Coast Guardsmen were killed.

6. Facts about the Coast Guard and their busiest rescue day

While most American military forces were trying to kill Germans on June 6, 1941, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter “Homing Pigeon,” rescued 126 drowning Allied fighters from the waters off the Normandy coast. Part of the Coast Guard’s mission that day, in addition to operating the landing craft, was to patrol the waters and rescue stranded service personnel in the water. In all, the rescue flotilla saved more than 400 men.

7. Facts about the Coast Guard on D-Day

Even though it has been covered extensively by history books, many still do not know that the U.S. Coast Guard led the operating, maintaining, and salvaging of landing craft during World War II. It was Coast Guardsmen who drove the landing craft onto the beaches of Normandy.

8. The Dude knows some facts about the Coast Guard

The Dude, the now famous character played by actor Jeff Bridges was once in the U.S. Coast Guard. Okay, that’s not true, but it wouldn’t have been too much of a stretch if that were written into the script given Jeff Bridges served as a boatswain’s mate from 1967-1975 and left the Coast Guard Reserve as a petty officer second class.

Bridges has made more than 70 movies, including Iron Man and True Grit, but he achieved a cult-like following as the White Russian-drinking, pot smoking, bowler in the 1998 movie, The Big Lebowski. Bridges’ father and brother, also actors, both served in the Coast Guard Reserve and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

9. Historical facts about the Coast Guard

Anthony Christy was 105 years old when he died in Sept. 1862. He was the keeper of the Christiana Lighthouse in Delaware making him the oldest active serving Coast Guard member.

10. Nautical facts about the Coast Guard

The Vigilant was the first ship ever launched by the Coast Guard. The service’s first cutter took to the water in 1791.

What is a Navy SEAL? A Brief Overview


What is a Navy SEAL team’s mission?

U.S. Navy SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) provide maritime special operations forces to conduct full spectrum operations unilaterally or with partners, to support national objectives. That is a broad definition for a group of warriors who work with incredible precision. A lot of people think they know the Navy SEALs, but here is an overview of who they are and what they've done.

What is a Navy SEAL team’s history in World War II?

Today’s Naval Special Warfare operators can trace their origins to the scouts and raiders, naval combat demolition units, Office of Strategic Services operational swimmers, underwater demolition teams, and motor torpedo boat squadrons of World War II. While none of those early organizations have survived to present, their pioneering efforts in unconventional warfare are mirrored in the missions and professionalism of the present naval special warfare warriors.

To meet the need for a beach reconnaissance force, selected Army and Navy personnel assembled at Amphibious Training Base, Little Creek, in August 1942 to begin Amphibious Scouts and Raiders (Joint) training. The Scouts and Raiders mission was to identify and reconnoiter the objective beach, maintain a position on the designated beach prior to a landing and guide the assault waves to the landing beach.

The first group included Phil H. Bucklew, the “Father of Naval Special Warfare,” after whom the Naval Special Warfare Center building is named. Commissioned in October 1942, this group saw combat in November 1942 during Operation Torch, the first allied landings in the European theater, on the North African coast. Scouts and Raiders also supported landings in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Normandy, and southern France.

A second group of Scouts and Raiders, code-named Special Service Unit 1, was established in July 1943, as a joint and combined operations force. The first mission, in September 1943, was in New Guinea. However, conflicts arose over operational matters, and all non-Navy personnel were reassigned. The unit was renamed the 7th Amphibious Scouts and received new missions. They would, for example, go ashore with the assault boats, but also erect markers for incoming craft, handle casualties, take offshore soundings, blow up beach obstacles and maintain voice communications linking the troops ashore, incoming boats and nearby ships. The 7th Amphibious Scouts conducted operations in the Pacific for the duration of the conflict, participating in more than 40 landings.

The third Scout and Raiders organization operated in China. Scouts and Raiders were deployed to fight with the Sino-American Cooperation Organization, or SACO. To help bolster the work of SACO, Adm. Ernest J. King ordered 120 officers and 900 men be trained for “Amphibious Roger” at the Scout and Ranger school in Florida. They formed the core of what was envisioned as a “guerrilla amphibious organization of Americans and Chinese operating from coastal waters, lakes and rivers employing small steamers and sampans.”

Plans for a massive Allied invasion of Europe had begun and intelligence indicated that the Germans were placing extensive underwater obstacles on the beaches at Normandy. In May 1943, Lt. Cdr. Draper L. Kauffman, “The Father of Naval Combat Demolition,” was directed to set up a school and train people to eliminate obstacles on an enemy-held beach prior to an invasion. By April 1944, a total of 34 demolition units were deployed to England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the amphibious landing at Normandy.

On D-Day, Naval Combat Demolition Units at Omaha Beach managed to blow eight complete gaps and two partial gaps in the German defenses. The demolition units suffered 31 killed and 60 wounded, a casualty rate of 52 percent. Meanwhile, the demo units at Utah Beach met less intense enemy fire. They cleared 700 yards of beach in two hours, another 900 yards by the afternoon. Casualties at Utah Beach were significantly lighter with six killed and 11 wounded. Demolition units also operated in the Pacific theater.

Some of the earliest World War II predecessors of the SEALs were the operational swimmers of the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS. Many current SEAL missions were first assigned to them.

Their training started in November 1943 at Camp Pendleton. Within the U.S. military, they pioneered flexible swim fins and facemasks, closed-circuit diving equipment, the use of swimmer submersibles, and combat swimming and limpet mine attacks.

In Nov. 1943, the U. S. Marine landing on Tarawa Atoll emphasized the need for hydrographic reconnaissance and underwater demolition of obstacles prior to any amphibious landing. After Tarawa, 30 officers and 150 enlisted men were moved to Waimanalo Amphibious Training Base to form the nucleus of a demolition training program. The teams saw their first combat in Jan. 1944 in the Marshall Islands.

What is a Navy SEAL team’s history in the Korean War?

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when the North Korean army invaded South Korea. Beginning with a detachment of 11 personnel from an underwater demolition team (UDT), UDT participation expanded to three teams with a combined strength of 300 men.

As part of the Special Operations Group, UDTs successfully conducted demolition raids on railroad tunnels and bridges along the Korean coast. On Sept. 15, 1950, UDTs supported Operation Chromite, the amphibious landing at Inchon. UDT 1 and 3 provided personnel who went in ahead of the landing craft, scouting mud flats, marking low points in the channel, clearing fouled propellers, and searching for mines.

What is a Navy SEAL team’s history in Vietnam?

Responding to President John F. Kennedy’s desire for the services to develop an unconventional warfare capability, the U.S. Navy established SEAL Teams One and Two in Jan. 1962. Formed entirely with personnel from UDTs, the SEALs mission was to conduct counter guerilla warfare and clandestine operations in maritime and riverine environments.

SEAL involvement in Vietnam began immediately and was advisory in nature. SEAL advisers instructed the Vietnamese in clandestine maritime operations. SEALs also began a UDT style training course for the Biet Hai Commandos, the Junk Force Commando platoons in Danang.

In Feb. 1966, a small SEAL Team One detachment arrived in Vietnam to conduct direct-action missions. Operating out of Nha Be, in the Rung Sat Special Zone, this detachment signaled the beginning of a SEAL presence that would eventually include eight SEAL platoons in country on a continuing basis. Additionally, SEALs served as advisers for Provincial Reconnaissance Units and the Lien Doc Nguoi Nhia, the Vietnamese SEALs. The SEALs were also involved in the Phoenix Program.

What is a Navy SEAL team’s history post-Vietnam War?

Post-Vietnam War SEAL operations include Urgent Fury in Grenada (1983); Earnest Will in the Persian Gulf (1987-1990); Just Cause in Panama (1989-1990); and Desert Shield/Storm in the Persian Gulf (1990-1991). SEALs also operated in Somalia, Bosnia, Haiti, and Liberia.

What is a Navy SEAL team’s involvement in response to 9/11?

The SEALs have been heavily engaged in what became known as the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Most notably, the SEALs killed Osama Bin Laden in 2011.

What is a Navy SEAL today?

As the operational tempo and deployments for the GWOT have slowed, the Navy SEALs are evolving and likely training to face their next adversary.

Happy 82nd Birthday to the Coast Guard Reserves


On Feb. 19 the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve celebrates its birthday. While it is important to recognize the Coast Guard Reserve birthday, it is even more important to understand why the Coast Guard Reserve is important to military and maritime operations.

The Coast Guard Reserve is a flexible, responsive operational force that exists to support the Coast Guard roles of maritime homeland security, national defense (domestic and expeditionary), and domestic disaster operations. The U.S. Coast Guard depends on the Reserve force to be always ready to mobilize with critical competencies in boat operations, contingency planning and response, expeditionary warfare, marine safety, port security, law enforcement and mission support.

Reservists obtain and maintain proficiency and readiness through a combination of training and augmentation. By doing so, reserve forces achieve mobilization readiness, while providing increased capacity to the local command.

Coast Guard Reserve History

The Coast Guard Reserve was established by the passage of the Coast Guard Reserve and Auxiliary Act of February 19, 1941 which is why Feb. 19th is recognized as the Coast Guard Reserve birthday. That act also established the Coast Guard Auxiliary under its present name (the Auxiliary had originally been called the Coast Guard Reserve).

The new Coast Guard Reserve was modeled after the Naval Reserve as a military component, composed of two broad classifications: Regular Reservists and Temporary Reservists. Regular Reserve members served on active duty during World War II “for the duration,” while Temporary Reserve members consisted of volunteers and former Auxiliary members whose paid and unpaid services were still needed in a military capacity for coastal patrols and port security work.

On November 23, 1942, Congress enacted Public Law 773 establishing the Women Reserve as a branch of the Coast Guard. Members of this branch became known as SPARs, an acronym drawn from the Service motto, Semper Paratus, Always Ready. More than 92 percent of the 214,000 personnel who served in the Coast Guard during World War II were reservists, with an additional 125,000 personnel serving in the temporary reserve. They served in all Coast Guard mission areas.

Coast Guard Reserve Post-World War II

As we celebrate the Coast Guard Reserve birthday, it is important to note that at the conclusion of World War II, most Reservists were released to inactive duty or discharged. The Women’s Reserve was terminated in July 1947 but reestablished in August 1949. By 1950, funds were earmarked by Congress for the establishment of a paid drilling Reserve in support of the Coast Guard. The first organized Coast Guard Reserve unit was formed in Boston in October 1950, setting the framework of today’s Coast Guard Reserve. The Selected Reserve reached a peak post-WWII strength of 17,815 in 1969, during the Vietnam Conflict.

In the Spring of 1973, the Reserve exercised its first involuntary recall to support flood response operations in the Midwest. Some 134 Reservists were recalled. Between then and 1990, only one other involuntary recall was invoked—for the Mariel Boat Lift exodus from Cuba in 1980. The 1980s also included augmentation of the active component to enforce security zones for space shuttle operations in Florida, logging more than 5,900 person-days from 1981 to date. The Coast Guard Reserve birthday is a day to recall how the decade finished with major reserve augmentation for the massive cleanup operations in Alaska following the Exxon Valdez oil spill where 65 percent of personnel used in that operation came from the reserve.

The 1990s saw a growing demand for the Coast Guard’s unique domestic recall authority. The reserve has provided personnel to the active component to support 12 hurricane and six major flood operations, including Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Late that year, the Coast Guard also received authorization to recall reservists to respond to possible Y2K-related contingencies, but did not do so. Reservists volunteered for the 1999 search-and-recovery efforts following the crashes of a light plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. and Egypt Air 990. During 2000, approximately 1,000 reservists served on active duty in support of Operation Sail. All of these notable events are worthy of reflection as we celebrate the Coast Guard Reserve birthday.

In the Coast Guard’s national defense role, 1,650 reservists, more than 15 percent of the selected reserve, participated in Operations Desert Shield/Storm. Reserve-staffed port security units also participated with the joint community in operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti. As we prepare to celebrate the Coast Guard Reserve birthday, they continue to participate in joint military exercises worldwide.

Sea Partners Program

One unique and highly successful Reserve-sponsored program, Sea Partners, has earned high marks around the country since its inception in 1994. Its primary objective has been to educate communities at large in developing awareness of marine pollution issues and improving compliance with marine environmental protection laws and regulations.

More than 300 Coast Guard reservists have participated in the Sea Partners campaign, in which teams of reservists are assigned to each of the 47 Coast Guard Marine Safety Offices across the country. New members are recruited through on-the-job or formal training at Coast Guard Marine Safety Offices.

Since June 1994, Sea Partners teams have reached more than 2 million individuals in personal contacts and many thousands more through print media, radio and television coverage. They have distributed more than a million pieces of printed literature on various marine pollution topics.

The popular Officer Snook campaign has educated hundreds of thousands of children on marine pollution prevention. Through the Sea Partners program, reservists coordinated numerous beach and shore cleanups around the country in fiscal year 2000. Working relationships have been established with community and local government groups, such as the North Carolina Big Sweep, the Dade County, FL Department of Environmental Resource Management and the Pacific Oil Spill Prevention Education Team. Even though it is the Coast Guard Reserve birthday it seems they are giving the nation gifts and not vice-verse.

The vision of the Coast Guard Reserve remains the same on the Coast Guard Reserve birthday. It is the Coast Guard’s only dedicated surge force and it is a contingency-based workforce, trained locally and deployed globally to meet Coast Guard mission requirements. And on the Coast Guard Reserve birthday the mission of the Coast Guard Reserve will continue to be to provide operationally capable and ready personnel to support Coast Guard surge and mobilization requirements in the Homeland and abroad.

U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: A Brief History

US Coast Guard Auxiliary History

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary was established by Congress in 1939 under Title 14 U.S. Code, subsection 23. When the US Coast Guard Reserve was authorized by act of Congress in June 1939, the US Coast Guard was given a legislative mandate to use civilians to promote safety on and over the high seas and the nation’s navigable waters.

Two years later, on Feb. 19, Congress amended the 1939 act with passage of the Auxiliary and Reserve Act of 1941. Passage of this act designated the Coast Guard Reserve as a military branch of the active service, while the civilian section, formerly referred to as the Coast Guard Reserve, became the US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

When America entered World War II in December 1941, recruits poured into the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. In 1942 legislation allowed Auxiliarists to join the Coast Guard Reserve. Throughout the war, around 50,000 Auxiliarists were members of the Reserve. These reservists, and newly enrolled civilians, performed coastal defense and search and rescue missions. They patrolled bridges, piers, docks, and beaches. They also fought fires, made arrests, guided naval vessels, and conducted anti-submarine warfare. Their volunteer numbers allowed active-duty Coast Guard personnel to serve overseas.

By 1950 the four traditional US Coast Guard Auxiliary cornerstone missions were public education, operations, vessel examination, and fellowship. Each year, the public education program trains thousands of boaters in seamanship and basic boat piloting.

Trained and qualified crew members support Coast Guard missions by conducting search and rescue missions in their own boats. US Coast Guard Auxiliary pilots and air observation crews search for distressed boaters, water hazards, pollution spills, and ice-locked vessels. Communications watch standers handle distress calls at Coast Guard and Auxiliary radio stations. Vessel examiners conduct vessel safety checks on recreational vessels to ensure federally required equipment and systems are present and properly installed.

During the past decades, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has grown in membership. In 1996, the Auxiliary’s role was expanded to allow members to assist in any Coast Guard mission, except direct law enforcement and military operations, as authorized by the commandant.

Since 9/11, members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary have been integrated into the Department of Homeland Security and they have performed a variety of port security functions. As interest in recreational boating has increased over the past decades, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary has kept pace with boating trends. Members helped implement the provisions of the 1958 Federal Boating Act. In the 1970s, they formed flotillas in sole-state waters to meet local demands for water safety. They introduced new courses such as those for sailors and personal water craft operators as their numbers increased.

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is the largest volunteer marine safety organization in the world and has fostered similar ones in foreign countries.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Mission

The mission of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary is to promote and improve recreational boating safety, provide trained crews and facilities to augment the Coast Guard and enhance safety and security of ports, waterways, and coastal regions, and to support Coast Guard operational, administrative, and logistical requirements.

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is the uniformed volunteer component of the US Coast Guard. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is a force multiplier, working alongside of and supporting active duty and reserve component US Coast Guard units.

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is responsible for safety and security patrols, search and rescue, mass casualty or disaster responses, pollution response and patrols, homeland security, recreational boating safety, commercial fishing and vessel exams, platforms for boarding parties, recruitment for all components of the US Coast Guard, and lastly, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary operates in any mission as directed by the commandant of the US Coast Guard or secretary of homeland security.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Organization

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary has units in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam. Under the direct authority of the US Department of Homeland Security via the commandant of the US Coast Guard, the US Coast Guard Auxiliary is internally broken down into four organizational levels: Flotilla, Division, District and National.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotillas

The Flotilla is the basic organizational unit of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary and is comprised of at least 15 qualified members who carry out the day-to-day missions of “Team Coast Guard.” Every US Coast Guard Auxiliary member is part of a Flotilla.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Divisions

Flotillas in the same general geographic area are grouped into Divisions. The Division provides administrative, training and supervisory support to Flotillas and promotes district and national policy.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary Districts

Districts provide administrative and supervisory support to Divisions, promote policies of both the District commander and national committee.

US Coast Guard Auxiliary National Level

The national staff officers are responsible, along with the commandant, for the administration and policy-making for the entire US Coast Guard Auxiliary.

There are roughly 23,500 members of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary located in 793 community based units. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary contributes 3.8 million hours per year in support of the US Coast Guard. The US Coast Guard Auxiliary conducts classroom training, supports ramp and pier operations, and operates roughly 1,800 vessels, 160 aircraft, and 1,400 radio facilities.

Overall administration of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary is the responsibility of the Chief, Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety (BSX). District administration of the Auxiliary is the responsibility of the Director of Auxiliary (DPA) in each District. In addition, each Sector has a Sector Auxiliary Liaison Officer assigned as a collateral duty.

What is a Bronze Star? 10 Things to Know


What is a Bronze Star?

This decoration was authorized by Executive Order No. 9419 on Feb. 4, 1944. It is awarded to a person in any branch of the military who, while serving in any capacity with the armed forces of the United States on or after Dec. 7, 1941, shall have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.

The Bronze Star Medal may be awarded by the secretary of a U.S. military department or the secretary of transportation with regard to the U.S. Coast Guard when not operating as a service in the Navy, or by such military commanders, or other appropriate officers as the secretary concerned may designate, to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force or Coast Guard of the United States.

What is a Bronze Star Medal award criteria?

The award recognizes acts of heroism performed in ground combat if they are of lesser degree than that required for the Silver Star. It also recognizes single acts of merit and meritorious service if the achievement or service is of a lesser degree than that deemed worthy of the Legion of Merit; but such service must have been accomplished with distinction.

Prior to Jan. 7, 2016, awards may be made to recognize single acts of merit or meritorious service. The lesser degree than that required for the award of the Legion of Merit must nevertheless have been meritorious and accomplished with distinction. The Bronze Star Medal may also be awarded for meritorious service under combat conditions that is of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Legion of Merit. However, for meritorious service that ended after Jan. 7, 2016, the Bronze Star Medal may only be awarded if during the period, the awardee was exposed to hostile action, or was at significant risk of exposure to hostile action. Otherwise, the appropriate award would be the Meritorious Service Medal.

Important to note is that 10 U.S. Code 1133 limits award of the Bronze Star Medal to servicemembers receiving imminent danger pay, hostile fire pay or hazardous duty pay and members of a friendly military force who are serving in a geographic area in which special pay is authorized under 37 USC 310 or 37 USC 351(a) (1) and (3) or special pay under any of the following circumstances: (a) while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; (b) while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or (c) while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

What is a Bronze Star Medal's criteria with the CIB?

U.S. Army personnel who, as members of the armed forces of the United States between Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 2, 1945, were awarded the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) or Combat Medical Badge (CMB) may upon application receive the Bronze Star Medal. Although these World War II badges were not authorized for award until after July 1, 1943, those whose meritorious achievements in combat before that date can be confirmed in writing may also be eligible for the Bronze Star Medal.

Award may be made to each servicemember of the U.S. Army who, after Dec. 6, 1941, has been cited in orders or awarded a certificate for exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy between Dec. 7, 1941 and Sept. 2, 1945, inclusive, or whose meritorious achievement has been otherwise confirmed by documents executed prior to July 1, 1947. For this purpose, an award of the CIB or CMB is considered as a citation in orders. Award of the Bronze Star Medal from these documents will not negate the original award or the CIB or CMB.

Documents executed since Aug. 4, 1944 in connection with recommendations for the award of decorations of higher degree than the Bronze Star Medal will not be used as the basis for an award under this paragraph. Veterans and retirees may submit letter application to National Personnel Records Center (NPRC–MPR), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138–1002. Soldiers who retired or were discharged after Oct. 1, 2002 and the primary next of kin of soldiers who died after Oct. 1, 2002 should send their letter application to Commander, U.S. Army Human Resources Command, (AHRC–PDP–A), 1600 Spearhead Division Avenue, Fort Knox, KY 40122–5408. The letter application should include documentary evidence, if possible.

Upon letter application, award of the Bronze Star Medal may be made to eligible soldiers who participated in the Philippine Islands Campaign between Dec. 7, 1941 to May 10, 1942. Performance of duty must have been on the island of Luzon or the Harbor Defenses in Corregidor and Bataan. Only soldiers who were assigned or attached to units that were awarded the Distinguished Unit Citation (redesignated as the Presidential Unit Citation) may be awarded this decoration. Letter application should be sent to National Personnel Records Center (NPRC–MPR), 1 Archives Drive, St. Louis, MO 63138–1002.

What is a Bronze Star Medal’s Description?

The medal, designed by the firm of Bailey, Banks and Biddle, is in the shape of a five-pointed star 1 1/2 inches from point to point. In its center is a smaller raised star. The small star is set on a raised 10-pointed figure, from which rays extend to the points of the outer star, giving the whole a sculptured effect. The reverse of the medal also has a raised center, with rays extending to the five points of the star. Inscribed on this are the words “Heroic or Meritorious Achievement,” encircling a blank space for the recipient’s name.

What is a Bronze Star Medal’s ribbon description?

The ribbon is predominately red, with a narrow blue center stripe flanked on either side by a narrow white stripe, and a narrow white stripe at the outer edge.

What is a Bronze Star Medal’s authorized devices?

The Bronze Star Medal devices are the oak leaf cluster and valor “V” device. The Bronze Star Medal will not be awarded with the “C” device. The “C” device is not authorized because the Bronze Star Medal is a combat related award and service or achievement under combat conditions is inherent to the medal.

What is a Bronze Star Medal’s criteria for a “V” device?

The "V" device is worn on decorations to denote valor, an act or acts of heroism by an individual above what is normally expected while engaged in direct combat with an enemy of the United States, or an opposing foreign or armed force, with exposure to enemy hostilities and personal risk.

When awarded for heroism, the Bronze Star Medal is annotated by a bronze “V” device (to designate valor). Only one “V” device will be worn on the medal or ribbon regardless of the number of times awarded.

What is a Bronze Star Medal’s criteria for oak leaf clusters?

No more than one Bronze Star Medal shall be awarded to any one person, but for each succeeding meritorious achievement or service justifying such an award an oak leaf cluster device may be awarded to be worn with the medal as prescribed by appropriate regulations.

What is the Bronze Star Medal’s criteria for posthumous presentation?

The Bronze Star Medal or device may be awarded posthumously and, when so awarded, may be presented to such representative of the deceased as may be deemed appropriate by the secretary of the department concerned.

What is a Bronze Star Medal downgraded to?

According to Army Regulation 600-8-22, if downgraded, a Bronze Star Medal recommendation will be downgraded to an Army Commendation Medal. This applies only to the U.S. Army.

10 Vietnam War Movies That Are Worth Watching


It is hard to tackle the story of the Vietnam War and especially a challenge to do so on film. The complex guerilla war lasted for nearly 20 years and direct American involvement for at least 10 years. 

It is impossible to say that a single movie captures the essence of the Vietnam War given the war experience is different for every person. And there is creative license that needs to be considered, that is, the creativity of the director and writer and whether or not they had military technical advisers on their sets to help make the movie more real.

That said, it is impossible for us, or anyone for that matter, to say that the movies we’ve selected here are the best or the top 10 Vietnam war movies. However, we are a company with a lot of veterans and many of us belong to veteran service organizations and we know what veterans like.

So, we compiled what we thought were Vietnam war movies that people should see. They are presented, in no particular order, but at least half of these are based on real events and real people.

Here is USAMM’s list of 10 Vietnam war movies that are worth watching.

1. We Were Soldiers

This movie stars Mel Gibson as Lt. Col. Harold G. Moore. The 2002 movie is based on Moore’s best-selling book “We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young” written by Moore (who would retire as a three-star general) and journalist Joseph L. Galloway. It is no secret that Moore did not like the way Hollywood portrayed the American fighting man in Vietnam. His book presents a different image of Vietnam warriors. The movie depicts the true story of the first major battle between the United States and North Vietnam in the Ia Drang valley. Of all the Vietnam war movies, this film portrays American soldiers as brave, willing to fight, and highly professional.

2. Platoon

This 1986 movie directed by Oliver Stone tells the story of Chris Taylor (Charlie Sheen). The idealistic Taylor drops out of college and enlists as an infantryman to serve in Vietnam. The movie is based on Stone’s experiences as a soldier in the jungles of Vietnam. Stone, received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart during his tour in Vietnam. The movie stars Willem Dafoe and Tom Berenger (and a young Johnny Depp) amongst others. This is one of a few Vietnam war movies that won Oscars. It won four Academy Awards.

3. Full Metal Jacket

No list of Vietnam war movies would be complete without Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 classic, Full Metal Jacket. The film stars Matthew Modine and it follows him from his early days of recruit training on Parris Island, to the Battle of Hué where he loses his best friend from basic training who is killed by a sniper. This military classic sets an early tone and easily draws a viewer in thanks to the presence of R. Lee Ermey, a Marine turned actor who convincingly plays the part of the drill instructor.

4. Apocalypse Now

The 1979 epic, Apocalypse Now, features one of the most beloved military characters to ever grace the screen. And we’re not talking about Capt. Willard the Green Beret assassin played by Martin Sheen. Nor are we talking about Col. Kurtz played by Marlon Brando. The two main characters are upstaged by the brief appearance of Robert Duvall playing a surfing Air Cavalry officer who has some memorable lines to include “Charlie don’t surf!” and “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

The film is based on Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness. Like other Vietnam war movies, this film won two Academy Awards.

5. The Deer Hunter

By the time The Deer Hunter came out in 1979, Americans were licking their wounds over U.S. involvement in Vietnam. The film, unlike other Vietnam war movies, is unapologetically anti-war. The movie tells the story of three steel workers in 1968 who are played by Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken and John Savage. The friends are sent to Vietnam and their service leads to drug addiction, permanent disabilities, and mental health issues. The film won five Academy Awards, the most of any of the Vietnam war movies.

6. Hamburger Hill

This 1987 movie is based on the real life 1969 battle of Hill 937, fought between the U.S. Army and the Army of the Republic of Vietnam against the People's Army of Vietnam. The heavily-fortified hill in Central Vietnam had little strategic value, but American commanders ordered its capture by a frontal assault. The hill was abandoned not long after it was captured. The 10-day battle killed 72 Americans and wounded 372. This is also one of the few Vietnam war movies based on real events.

7. Born on the Fourth of July

This is another one of the Vietnam war movies based on real events and adapted from a book written by Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic. Kovic is played by Tom Cruise in the movie. The film shares the story of an idealistic teenager who enlists in the Marine Corps and is sent to fight in Vietnam. During a firefight in his second tour in Vietnam, Kovic (Cruise) accidentally shoots one of his own men. When he tries to do the right thing and report it, his commander refuses to accept Kovic’s admission. Later, Kovic (Cruise) is wounded in battle and permanently paralyzed.

The movie is Oliver Stone’s second foray into the Vietnam War and shows what veterans faced when they returned home from Vietnam. While anti-war in sentiment, the movie is based on a book written by a combat veteran who lived it, and the movie is based on the book, directed by a man who also served in the war and lived it.

8. Good Morning Vietnam

There are few Vietnam war movies considered comedies and this 1988 film is one of them. Although it has clear dramatic moments, the movie tells the comedic tale of real-life military DJ Adrian Cronauer, played by funny man Robin Williams. Cronauer is on a one-man mission to put smiles on the faces of military personnel who are in the middle of fighting an unpopular war. The movie is loosely based on Cronauer’s time in Vietnam. Cronauer would say about half of the movie was accurate and not fiction.

9. Bat 21

This is one of those Vietnam war movies based on real life. The 1988 movie tells the tale of Air Force Lt. Col. Iceal Hambleton, played by Gene Hackman. Hambleton is shot down behind enemy lines and in order to survive he stays connected to Capt. Bartholomew “Bird-Dog” Clark (Danny Glover), over the radio. Because it is a Hollywood product, the movie strays on occasion, but for the most part tells the story of Hambleton’s fight to survive.

10. Flight of the Intruder

This is one of two Vietnam war movies with actor Danny Glover. The 1991 film also stars Willem Dafoe and Brad Johnson. The movie is based on the book written by real U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder pilot, and Vietnam veteran, Stephen Coonts. While a work of fiction, like the fact that an aircrew goes off mission to freelance and bomb targets of their own choosing, the movie is entertaining mostly because of the characters.

Vietnam Shadow Box Ideas to Honor Veterans


Vietnam War era veterans are quickly becoming the oldest living veterans in American society as World War II and Korean War veterans pass into history. As the United States has come to terms with the way in which it treated returning Vietnam veterans, many of these veterans are finally able to show the military pride they have felt all along.

If you have a Vietnam veteran in your family or circle of friends, a Vietnam shadow box might make a great holiday or birthday gift. A Vietnam shadow box might help a Vietnam veteran show off their service pride and also help them understand that many others, not just them, are proud of their service as well.

Where to buy a Vietnam shadow box?

You can buy an empty shadow box that is likely made in China from a local craft store. They aren’t that expensive, but is that really the message that you want to send when you are gifting a Vietnam shadow box? It is important to understand the sacrifice that Vietnam veterans made and the things they endured during their service. They deserve a high-quality Vietnam shadow box that is reflective of their military service during the Vietnam War.

Online retailers like USAMM not only provide empty shadow boxes that you can customize yourself, but you can order all of the veteran’s badges, ribbons and medals and have them placed in the Vietnam shadow box that is customized and built specifically for your Vietnam veteran.

What is placed in a Vietnam shadow box?

A Vietnam shadow box should contain items that were earned during a Vietnam veteran’s military service. Things that are normally included are the person’s medals, ribbons, rank, qualification and special badges as well as their last unit’s emblems.

It is important to include awards and decorations specific to the veteran’s service, like the Vietnam Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, National Defense Medal, and other awards known to be awarded for service during the Vietnam War.

Can other things be placed in a Vietnam shadow box?

A Vietnam shadow box can include anything that is deemed relevant and memorable for the Vietnam veteran. Many Vietnam veterans have lighters, can openers, dog tags, knives, and other memorabilia that are important to them from their service during the war. It is important to ensure that these are included in the Vietnam shadow box.

Remember, a shadow box is a tangible snap shot of the things that these men and women carried with them as they served. It is a way to preserve those items, but at the same time display them to be shared with others.

Veteran involvement in a Vietnam shadow box

This is a tough one. A shadow box is a very, very personal thing filled with mementos from a person’s military service. Military service during a conflict is an emotionally charged period for a veteran.

While the element of surprise is priceless when gifting a Vietnam shadow box, it is more important to get it right. Many Vietnam veterans have service records that are incomplete. During the 1970s, there was a massive fire in a federal building where records were kept and thousands if not millions of records were destroyed. In addition, given the highly decentralized and often unorganized management of the Vietnam War, many veteran records might not include all of a veteran’s awards. So if you were contemplating using some old military documents, like a DD Form 214, those are a great starting point, but they might not paint a complete picture.

For example, a veteran might have gotten discharged in 1969, but then been presented his Purple Heart or some other award years later. And odds are that those awards that were presented years later might be very important to the Vietnam veteran.

We recommend getting the veteran involved in the assembly of the Vietnam shadow box. It is better to be safe, than sorry and this is far too important a purchase just to wing it. It is important to get it right. Involving the veteran can ensure you get all the details right.

A Vietnam shadow box for a deceased veteran

If you are assembling a Vietnam shadow box for a deceased veteran your best starting point is acquiring the veteran's DD Form 214. If you are an immediate family member of the veteran this shouldn’t be too complicated to do, but it might take several weeks, if not months, to get the records center to supply you the information that is needed.

In most cases, as previously stated, a 214 is a great starting point and will include a majority of the awards presented to a service member during their active duty tours, but be ready and aware that what is on the 214, might not be all inclusive. There might be other awards that the veteran earned that might need to be included in the Vietnam shadow box.

If you run into obstacles, consider enlisting the help of your elected congressional official. They can often be instrumental in breaking bureaucratic jams when dealing with anything military. Also, approach veteran service organizations if you need help and are unfamiliar with how to get veteran records. Often many of these community-based organizations will help the families of veterans.

Remember, a Vietnam shadow box is a unique item full of memories for the veteran. Treat it with respect and the veteran will cherish it for years to come.