And Just How Many Countries Have We Attacked?
James Glaser
October 17, 2002

Early this morning I was at the VFW Post doing some paperwork and a man came in that wanted to join our Post. Usually that is no problem as most people are transferring from their old Post to ours, when they move into our area. This was different because this man had never joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

We have three rules of eligibility and they are, 1. US Citizenship, 2. Honorable service in the US Armed Forces, and 3. Service entitling the applicant to the award of a recognized Campaign Medal as set forth in the VFW Congressional Charter. The only exception is service in Korea. Anyone serving in Korea for 30 consecutive days from 1949 to present is eligible.

Well I asked this man where he had served and he said "Quemoy and Matsu Island in 1962." I knew Quemoy and Matsu are Islands off the coast of China, but didnít know we had service personnel there. I had him fill out the application, told him to bring in his DD 214 discharge papers, and when our next meeting was.

I looked up the VFW web page and went to the section for eligibility and to my surprise I found 65 places on this globe that America has been at war in some way, since WW 2. I have read many times in and Lew Rockwell that we have engaged the enemy 23 times since 1945, but the Congress of the United States put that number at 65.

There were no countries that surprised me, however the thing that really caught my eye were the names assigned to some of these operations.

Operation Urgent Fury, when we took on that powder keg in Grenada. How about Operation Joint Guard, then there is Operation Vigilant Sentinel, Operation Desert Thunder, Operation Desert Fox, Operation Distant Runner, and my personal favorite "Noble Anvil."

While in Vietnam I went on several operations like "Dewey Canyon 2" and the Vietnam war had hundreds if not thousands of operations, but these eligibility operations are from different countries in different years.

Here is the list as written in the VFW site.

  1. Quemoy & Matsu Island
  2. Taiwan Straits
  3. Congo
  4. Laos
  5. Vietnam
  6. Cuba
  7. Dominican Republic
  8. Korea
  9. Cambodia
  10. Thailand (in direct support of Cambodia Operation)
  11. Operation Eagle Pull – Evacuation of Cambodia
  12. Operation Frequent Wind – Evacuation of Vietnam
  13. Mayaguez Operation
  14. Operation Urgent Fury – Grenada
  15. Lebanon
  16. Germany (West Berlin)
  17. Austria
  18. Korea
  19. Japan
  20. Italy
  21. Trieste
  22. Germany (except West Berlin)
  23. Austria
  24. Asiatic Pacific
  25. Korean Service Medal (Army, Navy, Air Force)
  26. Berlin
  27. Lebanon
  28. Libyan Operation El Dorado Canyon
  29. Persian Gulf Operation Earnest Will
  30. Panama Operation Just Cause
  31. Somalia-United Shield-Operation Restore Hope
  32. Haiti – Operation Uphold Democracy
  33. Operation Southern Watch (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Gulf of Omen W. Of 62í E. Long, Yemen, Egypt, Jordan)
  34. El Salvador
  35. Bosnia – Operation Joint Endeavor
  36. Operation Joint Guard
  37. Operation Vigilant Sentinel
  38. Operation Northern Watch
  39. Operation Maritime Intercept
  40. Operation Joint Forge (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  41. Operation Desert Thunder
  42. Operation Desert Fox
  43. Thailand Military Operation
  44. Cuban Military Operation
  45. Iranian, Yemen & Indian Ocean Operation
  46. Lebanon
  47. Libyan Expedition
  48. Panama – (pre and post invasion)
  49. Liberia (Operation Sharp Edge)
  50. Rwanda (Operation Distant runner)
  51. Vietnam Service Medal
  52. Operation Desert Storm/Operation Desert Shield
  53. Combat Action Ribbon
  54. Korean Service
  55. Kosovo Campaign Medal (Allied Force)
  56. Joint Guardian
  57. Allied Harbor
  58. Sustain Hope/Shining Hope
  59. Nobel Anvil
  60. Kosovo Task Force Hawk
  61. Kosovo Task Force Saber
  62. Kosovo Task Force Falcon
  63. Kosovo Task force Hunter
  64. Kosovo Air Campaign
  65. Kosovo Defense campaign

Now I know some of these countries are repeated, but the dates of action are different. That means we have repeatedly returned to some countries for new engagements much like we are going to do now in Iraq.

Every one of these actions have been approved by Congress to qualify the combatants for members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. Those serving in Afghanistan are really not eligible at this date, but all we are waiting for is the President to sign the bill making them so. I believe that all Posts are taking their applications right now.

As you can see by this list America has been a very busy country in the last 50 years and that our "Military Might" has been in the forefront of American Foreign Policy.

Jim Glaser is a Vietnam vet and a volunteer in veterans hospitals. He is a regular columnist for Visit his website.

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