State of Vietnam: Fantasy Medals

The short lived State of Vietnam (1949 to 1955), which emerged under the Elysee Accords of March 8, 1949, was organized under the leadership of Bao Dai, the last of the Nguyen emperors. Bao Dai served as Head of State and not as Emperor. The State of Vietnam had partial autonomy from France as an associated state within the French Union. It vied with the communist Democratic Republic of Vietnam for legitimacy as the government of Vietnam. Following the Geneva Conference of 1954, as well as becoming fully independent, the State of Vietnam became territorially confined to those lands of Vietnam south of the 17th parallel, and as such became commonly known as South Vietnam. On October 26, 1955 the State of Vietnam ceased to exist and was replaced by the Republic of Vietnam under Ngo Dinh Diem. During its brief existence, the State of Vietnam had adopted and issued the following Orders and Decorations:

The National Order in five traditional classes
The Military Merit Medal (Bao Dai version)
The Gallantry Cross
The Wound Medal
The Armed Force Honor Medal (in two classes)
The Chuong My Medal (in two classes)

There were also several additional awards, which were planned, but never made it off the drawing board and beyond the design stage. These now long forgotten awards included:

Order of Merit

Order of Merit

This Order was envisioned to have five classes similar to that of the French Legion of Honor. The insignia is a 52mm five-pointed, uniface, white enameled star bordered in green enamel (silver for the knight grade). Each arm was to be separated by two gold flowers with white enamel centers. The center of the obverse contains an oriental dragonís head in gilt on black enamel. The center of the obverse is surrounded by the inscription, QUOC-GIA VIET NAM 1950 (State of Vietnam 1950) on red enamel.

The commander grade would have had three flowers between each arm of the star and the plaque to measure 90mm and have three leafs between each arm. The 37mm ribbon was to have been based on the national flag, yellow with three 2.5 mm red stripes approximately 2mm apart.

Order of Dong-Chanh

This Order would have been composed of three grades: commander, officer and knight.

The uniface insignia was to be in the form of gilt sun (silver for the knight grade) formed of eight beams of five rays each with silver five-pointed stars interspersed between each. In the blue enamel center was a map of Vietnam with the legend VIET NAM superimposed. The planchet is suspended from a golden urn bearing a Chinese calligraphic character. The 37mm ribbon bears a silver barrette, DONG CHANH (not CONG CHANH per the illustration).

Order of Dong-Chanh and Order of Viet-Huong

Order of Viet-Huong

This Order would also have been composed of three grades: commander, officer and knight.

The uniface gilt (silver for the knight grade) insignia took the form of a lotus flower with five petals with three green enamel fruits separating each petal. A five-pointed red enamel star was to be superimposed with only its points visible on the lotus flower. A white enamel ring surrounded the center framing a gilt dragon on a yellow enamel background. It would have been suspended from a 37mm ribbon.

Medal of Honor

This award would also have been composed of three classes: gilt, silver and bronze.

The 35mm round obverse was comprised of three inner circles containing: (1) a monument; (2) a sheaf of rice; and (3) a pile of books. The dates 1948, 1949, and 1950 were to be placed along the outer edge of the planchet. The reverse would have contained the national flag and the inscription: PHUNG SU TO QUOC (Serve the Fatherland or in this case Empire). Two clasped hands surmount the planchet.

Medal of Honor and Medal for Escapees

Medal for Escapees

The 30mm bronze Medal for Escapees was to be suspended from a brass ring in the same manner as the Wound Medal. The obverse was to be divided into three sections. The 15mm central section depicts an Olympic torch with three segments of red enamel flame and a white glow set against a pale blue enamel sky with four slopes below, three in dark blue enamel and one in gray. This is bordered by two 7.5 mm sections. The one on the left has leaves of chrysanthemum and the one on the right has bay leaves. The reverse was to bear the inscription, QUOC GIA VIETNAM and DAOTHOAT HUY CHUONG on two straight lines. The suspension ribbon was planned to be 36mm.

These decorations all present an interesting window to not only what might have been, but also to the plethora of ornate medals and decorations, which were implemented by the Republic of South Vietnam.

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