Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Chiến sĩ xuất sắc (Soldier Excellence Award) Patch

Recipients of the Chiến sĩ xuất sắc (Soldier Excellence Award)
posing with President Nguyen Van Thieu, Saigon, June 19, 1973.
     The military of the Republic of Vietnam created and issued a plethora of insignia. These varied by material, manufacturing methods, as well as design. A complete record of every insignia that came into being will likely never be known. New pieces and design variations previously not well documented continually appear. In this post, RVNHS would like to highlight one of these “lesser known” insignia.
Two recipients at the awards ceremony, Saigon, June 19, 1973.
        The Chiến sĩ xuất sắc (Soldier Excellence Award) patch was created as part of a ceremony on the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces Day, June 19th, in 1973. The ceremony was held in Saigon, and the award was issued to soldiers serving all regions of Vietnam from all branches of the armed forces. The soldiers were both officers and enlisted personnel who had been singled out in recognition of excellency by their respective commands. In total, oral history says roughly six hundred were given the award.
First Lieutenant Nguyen Van Cu (left) at the awards ceremony, Saigon, June 19, 1973
      Most of the recipients gathered in Saigon. Many of the soldiers came from field positions, and consequently had well-worn uniforms and non-regulation hair lengths. They were sent to a barber and then to a quartermaster to be fitted for new uniforms. Two new uniforms were to be given to each soldier. When they received the new uniforms prior to the ceremony, a special patch appeared on the right pocket.
President Nguyen Van Thieu issuing the award to a recipient, Saigon, June 19, 1973.
      The patch bore the phrase Chiến sĩ xuất sắc . “Xuất sắc ” can be translated as “excellent” with “chiến sĩ ” as “soldier.” It was circular and featured a soldier in full field gear with a raised M16. A red sash, worn over the right shoulder, was also given to each soldier. The ceremony was attended by Presidient Nguyen Van Thieu, most of the soldiers to be awarded, some of the soldiers` family members and acquiantances, various representatives of the armed forces branches, and media members to cover the event.

Marine Colonel Ngo Van Dinh wearing the award patch, 1973.
     Considering roughly six hundred soldiers received the award and each soldier (in theory) received two uniforms with the patch, a rough estimate can be made that somewhere in the range of 1200+ of these patches were produced. Unfortunately, no examples of this patch are known to exist today. Being issued in such a limited number towards the end of the republic`s history, it is likely to assume nearly all of these patches did not survive post-1975 to be preserved. Nevertheless, visual and oral documentary evidence exists to show the insignia`s design, and can thus be included in the lengthy history of insignia employed by the republic.

(RVNHS would like to thank Tony Le for his help with translating material for this posting)
Recipients in line to be awarded, Saigon, June 19, 1973.
A recipient receives the award, Saigon, June 19, 1973.


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