The Vietnam War (1955–75) was fought between South Vietnam (backed by the United States) and the Viet Cong, the communist-led insurgent force supported by the North Vietnamese Army. The Viet Cong sought to unify the country after the partition that resulted from the First Indochina War (1946–54).
Australian support for South Vietnam was in the context of a desire by the United States and other nations to stop the spread of communism in Europe and Asia. While Australia didn’t enter the war until 1962, it was to become our longest conflict of the 20th century. More than 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam, of which 523 were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.
Australian forces were withdrawn in 1971, with the last arriving home in March of 1972. In January 1973, 50 years ago this year, Australia officially issued a proclamation to mark the end of Australia’s involvement in the war. However, in 1975, due to the fall of Saigon to the communists, elements of the Royal Australian Air Force returned to carry out evacuations and to assist refugees, before embassy staff were evacuated in April 1975.
The war, including the introduction of a selective conscription scheme, was the cause of significant social and political dissent, and many veterans were left with long-term impacts to their health.
To honour all Australians who served in the Vietnam War, the stamps in this issue present two key campaign medals. In the background of the stamps are locations that were main bases or areas associated with the units and other recipient classes for each medal.
Design of the Vietnam Medal
The Vietnam Service Medal was designed by Andor Meszaros, an immigrant from Hungary who arrived in Australia in 1939.
Meszaros had studied architecture in Vienna and sculpture in Paris, as well as medallic art in the 1920s and 30s.
The design was quite a radical one for a military medal, expressing a real philosophical thought about the war. Production of the dies and striking of the medals was performed by the Royal Australian Mint in Canberra.
- Issue date
- 18 April 2023
- Issue withdrawal date
- 31 October 2023
- $1.20 x 1, $2.40 x 1
- Stamp design
- Sally Piskuric
- Product design
- Sally Piskuric
- Paper: gummed
- Tullis Russell 104gsm Red Phos
- Paper: self-adhesive
- Arconvert Securepost /MC 90/Cprint 100/P10P
- Printing process
- Offset lithography
- Stamp size (mm)
- 26 x 37.5
- Minisheet size (mm)
- 135 x 80
- 14.6 x 13.86
- Sheet layout
- Module of 50
- FDI Postmark
- Canberra ACT 2601
- FDI withdrawal date
- 17 May 2023
$1.20 The Vietnam Medal
Instituted in 1968, the Vietnam Medal was the primary Australian campaign medal of the Vietnam War, until the creation of the Australian Active Service Medal 1945–75, some 30 years later. The Vietnam Medal recognises members of the Australian Defence Forces and members of accredited philanthropic organisations serving in South Vietnam between 29 May 1964 and 27 January 1973.
The medal’s reverse, presented on the stamp, features a male figure struggling between two worlds, a homage to the ideological nature of the Cold War, of which Vietnam proved to be its deadliest incarnation. The obverse, which is shown when the medal is worn, displays the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. The medal’s ribbon incorporates colours representing the South Vietnamese flag, flanked by two stripes of red (for the Army), a dark blue stripe (for the Navy) and a light blue stripe (for the Air Force). The Vietnam Medal was issued under the Imperial system but was mainly awarded to Australian and New Zealand personnel, around 50,000 of them.
Permission to reproduce the Vietnam Medal (reverse) was granted by the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.
$2.40 The Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal
The Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal was established on 24 February 1993. It was created to provide recognition to the men and women who played a vital support role during the Vietnam War but did not qualify for the Vietnam Medal. This includes certain defence personnel in support roles, as well as entertainers, journalists, civilian surgical and medical teams, Qantas aircrew and embassy couriers.
The stamp shows the obverse of the Vietnam Logistics and Support medal, which features the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.
Permission to reproduce the Vietnam Logistic and Support Medal (obverse) was granted by the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General.