Original U.S. Vietnam War Cased Commemorative Medal For Families Of American Personnel Missing In Southeast Asia With Documents - POW MIA

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Set Available. The Vietnam MIA Medal stemmed from a resolution by Senator Robert Byrd (W.VA) and was established by Act of Congress (Section 1267 of PL 98-94) on September 24, 1983. The medal was created to be presented by Congress to the next of kin of those American military personnel still listed as Missing In Action in Southeast Asia.

Designed by Vietnam veteran Thomas Mason Nielson, it is a three inch bronze medallion suspended from a neck ribbon (cravat) in the colors of the Vietnam Service Medal. The obverse of the medal reads MISSING WHILE SERVING IN THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA with the lettering POW MIA. The design is that of an eagle in a bamboo grove to symbolize an American in captivity in the jungle. The reverse of the medal reads YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN and BY ACT OF CONGRESS SEPTEMBER 1983 surrounding a Vietnam Service Medal that awaits it's chance to be picked up by the missing serviceman.

 The outer rim reads HONORING AMERICANS STILL MISSING  1961 * VIETNAM, LAOS, CAMBODIA * 1973. The medal was presented in a fitted and hinged brown case with the Great Seal of the United States embossed on the interior of the lid.

The first medal was presented on July 21st, 1984 to retired Army Colonel Earl P. Hopper whose son, an F-4 pilot, had been listed as missing since Jan. 10, 1968. Presentation ceremonies were then held across the U.S. A 1985 article written for VFW Magazine tells that "Those coming forward ranged from mothers now in their 70's to the 22 month old grandniece of an MIA."  It is unknown how many medals were struck or eventually awarded, however there were 2,485 personnel listed as MIA at the time the medal was created. It is important to note that this was to be a one time award with no subsequent awards to be struck or given.

The California Congressional Commemorative Medal Ceremony held on September 17, 1984 was similar to the ceremonies held all across the nation. The event took place at McClellan Air Force Base and included the Navy Band, a 21 gun salute, and a Missing Man flyover. The families of 123 men were present.  The missing were members not only of the Army, Air Force, Marines, and Navy but four civilians. Another California presentation ceremony took place on November 1, 1984 at Miramar Naval Air Station at San Diego. With a similar program and presided over by Rear Admiral Thomas J. Cassidy, Jr. this event saw the presentation of medals to another 29 families.

Included with this Commemorative Medal are (2) National P.O.W. / M.I.A. Recognition Day (1984) Proclamations by President Ronald Reagan. Also included is a paper for the Congressional Program State of Missouri Commemorative Medal Presentation Ceremony and a copy of the Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1984. All documents are in a light blue folder which bears a United States Congress sticker on the front.

There is no name attributed to the commemorative medal, or what family is was awarded to. Based on the fact that there is a paper for the Missouri Congressional Program, we do believe that the next of kin who received this medal had lost a loved one in Vietnam who was from Missouri.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency states that a total of 21 individuals have been accounted for/identified since 1972. The same agency also states that there are a total of 35 individuals who remain unaccounted for. Both reports were prepared on February 11, 2022.

The List of Names For Accounted Personnel Can Be Found Here
The List of Names For Unaccounted Personnel Can Be Found Here
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