REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM WOUND

Out of the 2.7 million American troops who served in Vietnam, around 304,000 were wounded, with over 153,000 of those receiving hospital care. But while the types of wounds received were more traumatic than those seen in earlier conflicts—the rate of amputations and crippling wounds was four times higher than in World War II—the percentage of fatalities from wounds was much lower thanks to the use of MEDEVAC helicopters. On average, it took less than an hour for a wounded American soldier to reach a hospital, which resulted in a survival rate of more than 99 percent for those who lived at least 24 hours after wounding.

In addition to receiving the Purple Heart, some of those American wounded were also awarded the Vietnam Wound Medal. The decoration, which was established by the State of Vietnam in 1953 (the country became the Republic of Vietnam in 1955), was awarded to members of the Vietnamese National Army (VNA) wounded or killed in combat and to government officials wounded or killed by enemy soldiers or insurgents while performing governmental service. (The Vietnamese National Army was retitled the Army of the Republic of Vietnam, or ARVN, with the change in government.)

Like many medals established for members of the VNA, ARVN, and other branches of the Vietnamese Armed Forces, the Wound Medal was also awarded to members of the United States Military and other allied forces who met the basic criteria (the expansion to include foreign military personnel came in 1965). But not every American wounded in Vietnam was eligible for the honor; only those soldiers attached to and serving under the direct command of an ARVN unit qualified for the medal.

The Wound Medal was issued in only one class by the Chief of the Joint General Staff of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces.
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