The other day I was editing a final copy of an obituary for a World War II soldier.
The obituary noted the veteran received the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one Bronze Star, and the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars.
Many civilians reading this would say in awe, “wow, three Bronze Stars!”
Well, they should be in awe for the hell anyone experienced in the Pacific during World War II.
But the notation “Bronze Stars”, that’s something else.
To many, including reporters, they hear Bronze Stars and they think something out of an Audie Murphy movie (is this too old of an anology?) who single-handedly took out machine-gun nests, blew up a tank, and sank an aircraft carrier.
But there is a difference between a Bronze Star Medal and the Bronze (or Silver) Service Stars.
It can be confusing as it is for many of the people who send in those obituaries for publication.
A Bronze Star Medal is awarded for heroic or meritorious achievement.
A Bronze Service Star it is an attachment worn in conjunction with another medal. The Bronze Service Star is worn on the campaign ribbon, such as the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and denotes the person’s participation in a specific battle, engagement or offensive.
I looked at my father’s Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and it has two Bronze Service Stars (Guadacanal and Bougainville). Additionally, his Philippine Liberation Medal has one Bronze Service Star (Battle of Manila). It is only by coincidence the veteran whose obituary I was editing had received the same medals and service stars as my father.
The Bronze Service Star is sometimes called in military documents and jargon: bronze star, battle star, or campaign star. For news-writing purposes, use Bronze Service Star in first reference.