Tuesday, August 23, 2016

WW II U.S. Campaign Medals

Looking back, the enormous scope of WWII is seen in the forty million lives taken all over the world.  The United States became part of this conflict on December 7, 1941.  The military organized their forces by land, air, and sea.  The operations they preformed were divided into "Theaters of War", and individual service [campaign medals] were awarded.  These service medals were: 1) American Defense Service Medal, 2) American Campaign Medal, 3) European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, 4) Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and 5) Women's Army Corps Service Medal.  The following begins a series of post to show these service decorations of WWII.

The "European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal" is shown below.  It was awarded to all members of the U.S. armed forces who served in the prescribed area or aboard certain ships of the Navy between December 7, 1941, and November 8, 1945.

The design is by the Heraldic Section of the Army.  The front of the medal [called obverse] shows a LST (landing vessel), with an antiaircraft gun firing from its forward deck.  The words EUROPEAN AFRICAN MIDDLE EASTERN CAMPAIGN are impressed above.  To the left of the LST, another ship is barely seen beneath a plume of smoke.   A fighter aircraft dives from above the smoke.  Shown in the foreground is a landing craft filled with troops.  Three helmeted soldiers with backpacks and rifles are shown in the lower foreground.

The back of the medal [called the reverse] shows the left profile of a bald eagle perched on a rock.  The words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA are placed at the upper right.  The dates 1941 - 1945 show on the lower left.

The colors of the ribbon have their own meaning.  Down the middle, a narrow strip of  red, white, and blue representing the United States.  [Description looking down from the front of the medal.]  On the left side is a brown band and inside are three stripes of green, white, and red, to represent the colors of Italy.  Two broad bands of green are to represent the fields of Europe.  Between the green and brown bands of the right side appear three stripes of white, black, and white, to represent the colors of Germany.  The wider brown stripes on each edge are for the soil of Africa and Europe.

A service member received a Bronze Service Star for each campaign credit.  Four of these stars on shown on the medal above.

What a deal this European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and what a service it represents to our life, and liberty in these United States.

References: American War Medals and Decorations, by Evans E. Kerrigan, The Viking Press, N.Y., 1964, pp. 97-98.

United States Air Force Combat Medals, Streamers, and Campaigns, by A. Timothy Warnock, Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1990, pp.128 - 133.