How can I find any information about why my Father received the Bronze Star in Korea?
How can I find any information about why my Father received the Bronze Star in Korea?
Unfortunately I don't have any information. He never told my mother when or why he got the medal. The only thing she remembered was that she knew he was a 'forward observer". We have some pictures of him and some of his comrades but only one has a name on it and I can't find any information searching his name. I was young when my father passed away so I didn't think to ask any questions. I never even saw the medal until I was a teen. I was depending on his military records not ever thinking about them being destroyed in a 1973 fire. I will continue to search and keep up with these posts. Maybe I will get lucky some day. Thank you so much for trying to help.
The patches are actually pretty easy to get online. Just type in "25th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch" or "47th Infantry Division Shoulder Patch" in Google search, then choose the "shop" option, and they should pop up. eBay also has them. If you want period-authentic, you want "cut-edge" on a khaki or dark green background--or one that says vintage late 1940s or early 1950s. The "merrowed edge" patch didn't come into use until later. Although for a shadow box, the merrowed edge, where the embroidery wraps around the edge of the patch, actually looks better, so is just as good. And don't get any subdued (camouflage) patches--they didn't start using them until the late 1960s, so your dad never wore one.
I did go to online shop page for this site. I don't think my Dad's patch was green/khaki and black. On his dress uniform picture although it's black and white The outline and the lightening bolt shows up light colored and the inside of the leaf dark. Mother says thinks it was yellow and red. The lightening patch was on his right sleeve and the Viking patch just above his Sargent stripes on his left. there is some kind of pin on his headpiece. I wish I could get pictures to up load on this site but can't get them to from my phone. I hope that I am not bothering you with all these questions but I have known so little about what these things mean and about what his time was like. I am just grateful for your help.
I'm sorry. I guess I wasn't clear. In the 1940s to the 1960s or early 1970s, you could see the background material on the shoulder patches. They refer to that style as a "cut edge." The background material at the time your father was in would be either khaki or olive drab; later in the 1950s it would change to Army green.
Here are examples of cut edged patches:
Later on, they went to a merrowed-edge patch, where the embroidery wrapped around the edge of the patch. It looks neater. This is the current style, in use today:
Your father would have worn color, cut-edge patches. If you are doing a display box, you can either chose to go with period-appropriate, or for the aesthetics.
He never would have worn a subdued (olive drab and black) shoulder patch. He was in about 15 years too early.
As for the crest on his cap, I wouldn't put too much effort into figuring out what it is. It most likely is the 194th Tank Battalion or, if they weren't authorized a crest, one assigned to a higher echelon unit.
This is the Distinctive Unit Insignia authorized for the 194th Tank Battalion (now the 194th Armored Regiment) in 1952:
Coat of Arms (army.mil)
You've only mentioned his Bronze Star Medal. He should be authorized three additional medals for sure--the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the United Nations Service Medal. And probably a Good Conduct Medal, as well. Do you have his DD-214?
I hope those photos went through. There is another patch under the lightening bolt one that only the pointed top portion is showing in the photo. I don't know what it looks like. The reason I haven't mentioned anything but the bronze star is because that's all we still have. I do have the DD214. The two photos are different so I don't know when or where each was taken. There was a house fire at my grandmothers (his mother) and we think the other bars and medals were there at her home. the Bronze Star my Mother had. It looks like the tropic thunder patch has the hewn khaki color border it's barely visible on the Khaki uniform. My Brother and I are thrilled to learn this much. Thank you so much!
The pictures do come through, and they tell us a lot.
We'll start with the patches, which we've already discussed. He's wearing a 25th Infantry Division Combat Patch, and a 47th Infantry Division shoulder patch designating his current unit of assignment.
He's wearing Staff Sergeant chevrons on both sleeves--that's the "pointy patch" you can't make out on the right sleeve. It's the same on both sleeves.
Now let's look at the crest--Distinctive Unit Insignia--on his shoulders and hat. It took me some digging, but I believe it's the 135th Infantry Regiment, which was assigned to the 47th Infantry Division. I base this on the shape, the saltire (the "X," and the scroll on the bottom.
This is the 135th Infantry Regiment's crest:
The 135th Infantry was originally formed in 1861 as the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, and has a long and distinguished history. The crest is described as follows:
Now, let's talk about the pieces of felt underneath the crests on his shoulders. They are called "Combat Leader Identification Tabs." They indicate individuals assigned to combat units who were in leadership positions, to make them stand out--squad leaders, platoon leaders, company commanders and first sergeants, etc.
Although they could be worn on the battlefield, normally you'd see them worn in garrison, as your father is. They were made of felt, didn't hold up very well, and invited sniper fire.
Given your father's rank, he was probably a squad leader.
Above his ribbons, he is wearing the Combat Infantry Badge. This tells us a lot. To be awarded the CIB, you had to be an infantryman, assigned to an infantry unit, in combat. It, and the companion Combat Medic Badge, are considered to be the two most prestigious badges you can be awarded in the Army, because there are no shortcuts to being awarded it--you have to engage the enemy in combat.
Now, if you look at the insignia on his left collar, you'll see that it has something crossed on it--it should be crossed rifles, because that's what personnel in the infantry wear. On his other collar is the initials U.S. Currently they are flat, but during the Korean War they would have been domed, which is why they look curved.
Now for his ribbons. First, he put them on upside down. Oops. He wouldn't be the first person to do so.
The one with the thin stripes is the United Nations Service Medal Korea. It was awarded by the United Nations for service in Korea and is, technically, a foreign award. And it actually was produced in seven different languages.
The other ribbon he's wearing is for the Korean Service Medal. It has two Bronze Service Stars on it (NOT to be confused with the Bronze Star Medal), meaning he participated in two different campaigns during the war. Which two? Well, we know he returned to San Francisco on June 16th, 1952. So those were probably for the Second Korean Winter campaign and the Korean Defense Summer-Fall 1952.
Although he's not wearing it, he also would have been authorized the National Defense Service Medal. It wasn't authorized until April 1953, but was authorized for everyone who served on active duty (other than active duty for training) for more than 30 days between 1950 and 1954 (and during Vietnam, Desert Storm, and the Global War on Terror). Most likely, this picture was taken before it was authorized.
In all likelihood, your father was never issued any of these medals, only the ribbons. Most people weren't--you had to ask.
Now, to complicate things . . . in 1950, the Republic of Korea offered a medal to all who participated in the defense of Korea. At the time the Department of Defense couldn't accept it, so basically forgot about it. The law/regulations were changed in 1954, but nobody remembered it had been offered until 1996. So in 1999 the Department of Defense authorized the wear of the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. But DoD doesn't issue it; you have to buy it from a private vendor.
And he probably received a Good Conduct Medal when he was discharged, since he was promoted to Staff Sergeant. But the only way to know that is to get his records and check.
His ribbon rack would have looked like this, with all of his known ribbons:
If you find out he had a Good Conduct Medal (again, you can only find out by checking his record), then his ribbon rack would have looked like this:
Now, I said before he was probably assigned to an artillery unit. But he's clearly an Infantryman.
The picture you posted today clears that up.
You show him standing with his battalion's mortars. Or the regiment's heavy mortar company. Most likely he was a forward observer for the mortar platoon in the battalion's heavy weapons company, or the regiment's heavy mortars, or both. Either that, or they found out he was REALLY GOOD with a map, and made him a forward observer, because he could call in fire accurately.
So what does this tell us about his service in the 25th Infantry Division?
In Korea, they had three infantry regiments assigned to it--the 14th, 27th, and 35th Infantry Regiments. Each regiment had three battalions and a heavy mortar company (plus some other stuff); each battalion had a heavy weapons company with a mortar platoon.
There was also a medium tank battalion that may have had a mortar platoon, but your father wouldn't have been eligible for a Combat Infantryman's Badge if he wasn't assigned to one of the Infantry Regiments.
You can request that the Army issue a replacement set of your father's medals. You use the same form that you use to request a copy of his records, just put "request replacement set of any medals, decorations, or unit citations. Originals never issued or destroyed in house fire." It may take a while.
And that's just about all I can squeeze out of those photographs. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
Oh, also--look in block 27 of his DD-214 and see what it lists for awards.
It should say, as a minimum:
Combat Infantryman Badge
Bronze Star Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Service Medal w/ 2 Bronze Service Stars
United Nations Service Medal
Does it mention any unit awards? Or the good conduct medal? Also, the awards may use abbreviations, or be continued in block 38, Remarks.
Also, see what it says in Block 28, "Most Significant Duty Assignment." My father's lists the unit he was in when he was discharged. But if you're lucky, maybe it will mention his Korean service. My dad was on a three-year enlistment, so he had some time to kill after he got back . . .
Goodness. This is just incredible stuff we would never decipher on our own. You have been invaluable to us in this journey to find out how special a man our Dad was during his 18 months in Korea. He was a simple country boy but very smart. Except for putting his pin on backwards! Those domed collar pins I do recall seeing years ago we don’t have them now. My mom says he definitely was Forward Observer and he served with another one who was black. She recalls seeing blue on that hat pin. These other pictures are part of the group with nothing written on them. Again I hope I haven’t bothered you too much but I’m so happy you have been willing to help. I guess I should have started this quest a long time ago but life flys by!