Featured World War II Medals, a Series of Articles.

Discussion in 'Coin Chat' started by johnmilton, May 10, 2019.

  1. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The "Happy Victory Day" post reminded me a group of medals that I have that were given to service men and women who participated in World War II. Since the whole article, which I wrote a few years ago, is rather long, I will break it up into posts.

    Tom Brokaw called them "The Greatest Generation." Many of us call them "father and mother," "grandfather and grandmother," and now "great grandfather and great grandmother." As the passing of time push their heroic deeds further back into the pages of history, there is a series of military medals that provide us with tangible reminders of how they saved us from scourge of world domination by the Axis and Japan. Today we call those tangible reminders "World War II service medals." On a more informal basis we could call them "every man's World War II medals" because the U.S. Government awarded them to almost all of the 16 million men and women who served in the armed forces during the war era.

    The American Defense Medal

    Defense O.jpg Defense R.jpg Defense Whole.jpg

    Although most Americans associate the beginning of World War II with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the war actually began a couple years before that for the American armed forces. On September 8, 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt declared a Limited Emergency Proclamation which coincided with the German attack on Poland just a week before that presidential action. On May 27, 1941 Roosevelt expanded his declaration to an Unlimited Emergency Proclamation. By this time the Axis powers had gained control of Europe. The Germans had conquered France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and the rest of Europe was allied with or under the control of Germany with the exception of the Swiss who were neutral.

    The U.S. military involvement under the Limited Emergency in Roosevelt's words "imposes on the United States certain duties with respect to the proper observance , safeguarding and enforcement of its neutral status and the strengthening of the national defense with the limits of peacetime authorizations." Cutting though the verbiage this presidential proclamation authorized the armed services to increase their enlisted manpower and call up the reserves to active duty. The Unlimited Emergency Proclamation expanded the armed forces mandate "to be put on a basis of readiness to repel any and all threats of aggression directed toward any part of the Western Hemisphere."

    On June 28, 1941 President Roosevelt authorized the American Defense Medal under Executive Order 8808. The medal was awarded to members of the military who were on active duty between September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941. All members of the Army received the medal if they were on active duty for one year or more during the eligibility period. All members of the other services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) received the medal for any length of service except reservists who served for less than ten days.

    The obverse design of the medal featured a full figure of Ms. Liberty in a long dress wearing a Liberty cap, bearing a sword and a shield. The reverse displayed words to the effect that the medal was issued to acknowledge service during the Limited and Unlimited Emergency Proclamations. The medal was suspended on a yellow ribbon with two thin red, white and blue stripes.
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  3. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The American World War II Service Medals

    The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 rendered the American Defense medal instantly obsolete. From that time on the United States was at war, and the era of passive defense activities had ended. During the First World War the War Department had issued a victory medal that had clasps added to the ribbon to denote the areas where a specific member of the military had served. For World War II, President Roosevelt decided to issue separate medals for of the three theaters: American, Asiatic-Pacific and European-African-Middle Eastern. Roosevelt authorized all three medals by Executive Order 9265 on November 6, 1942.

    Each of the three medals had a distinctive obverse design with a common reverse motif of an American eagle that was designed by Adolph Weinman. Weinman is best known to American collectors for his designs for the Mercury dime and the Walking Liberty half dollar. Thomas Hudson Jones designed the obverses of the medals, which were 1 and a quarter inches in diameter. The Asiatic-Pacific and European-African-Middle Eastern medals were award to all members of the armed forces who served in those theaters. The requirements for receiving the American Campaign medal were more restricted, and will be explained below. The service ribbons for all of the medals were issued during the war, but the medals were awarded in 1947.

    The American Campaign Medal

    American O.jpg American R.jpg American Whole.jpg

    This medal was awarded to all service personnel who served in the American Theater from December 7, 1941 to March 2, 1946. The American Theater was defined as the entirety of The United States, most of the Atlantic Ocean, part of Alaska and a small part of the Pacific Ocean bordering California and Baja California. The service term was at least one consecutive year within the borders of The United States or 30 consecutive days or 60 non-consecutive days outside of the U.S. border.

    The obverse featured a Navy cruiser underway and a B-24 Liberator bomber flying overhead. An enemy submarine is shown sinking in the foreground, the skyline of city in the extreme background and the words, "American Campaign" above.
  4. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal

    European O.jpg European R.jpg European Whole.jpg

    This medal features a scene inspired by the D-Day landings. Troops are pictured in the foreground with a landing craft behind them. An airplane and another landing craft appears in the background. The scene is identified by the phrase, "European African Middle Eastern Campaign." Although this combination of regions may seem odd on the surface, in reality to operation to liberate Europe began with the North African campaign against the Germans in June 1940 and continued until its successful completion in May 1943. This led to the invasion of Italy in September 1943 and ultimately the D-Day operation in June 1944.
  5. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

    Asia O.jpg Asia R.jpg Asia Whole.jpg

    The medal features a combat scene with American soldiers landing on what appears to a Pacific island. There are palm trees in the behind them and various air and naval assets in the background. The words "Asiatic Pacific Campaign" appear above this scene.
  6. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    The World War II Victory Medal

    Victory O.jpg Victory R.jpg Victory Whole.jpg

    This medal was authorized by an act of Congress in July 1945. It should be noted that the Germans had been defeated at this point, but the war with Japan was continuing. It was awarded to any member of the United States military, including the Government of the Philippine Islands, which was a U.S. territory at that time.

    The obverse features Nike, the Greek the goddess of victory, holding the two parts of a broken sword in her hands. Her right foot rests upon the helmet of Mars, the god of war, and a rising sun appears in the background symbolizing the dawn of peace.

    The reverse design is surrounded by the legend, "United • States • of • America • 1941 • 1945 •." The center of the design recalls the "Four Freedoms," which President Franklin Roosevelt define in his 1941 State of the Union Address before the U.S. became involved in the Second World War. Roosevelt defined the freedom of speech and religion and the freedom from want and fear as four basic freedoms that people "everywhere in the world" should enjoy. A laurel, symbolic of victory, appears at the center of the design.

    Although military medals have not traditionally held a major place in the cabinets of numismatic collectors, they nevertheless represent an important and interesting part of our national heritage.
  7. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER


    I wished that I still had my Dad's medals from WWII, but they are in the hands of my brother, now. Big mistake!

    My Mom & Dad were married the day before Pearl Harbor.....
    DEC 6 1941.jpg
    …..and they are both resting peacefully at Arlington National Cemetery.

  8. johnmilton

    johnmilton Well-Known Member

    I will conclude by adding that these medals are not expensive and that you can find them for sale on the Internet. I bought all but one of them at a coin show and found the last one on the Web. My Web find appeared to be packaged in the original box and looked like it had never been awarded.

    My inspiration for starting this collection was one of the youth cards that were issued with the World War II commemorative coins. Here are the pages on that card.

    Cover Outside.jpg Cover Ins Left.jpg Cover Ins Right.jpg Cover Ins Back.jpg Cover Out Back.jpg
  9. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    My father was stationed @ Hickam Field on 12/7/1941, & spent the war in the Pacific theater. He passed 2 yrs ago @ age 94, & he & my mother are in the National Cemetery on Long Island. My much younger sister, who had the closest bond with him, has most of his military memorabilia (which has the approval of the rest of us)

    Fortunately, we still have heroes of that type in todays military. :happy:
  10. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    That was a great idea! Good job! :happy::singing::cigar:
    johnmilton likes this.
  11. ksparrow

    ksparrow Coin Hoarder

    Nice writeup on the medals, johnmilton. My father served in Europe, but I don't recall ever seeing his medal. I knew nothing about these until your thread, so thanks!
  12. Stevearino

    Stevearino Supporter! Supporter

    @cpm9ball: Chris, my son bought a set of the WW II medals that my father had earned (but never received) and made a beautiful display. He got them from a military insignia/medal firm. Perhaps you could do something similar. His DD214 should list his medals.

    Randy Abercrombie likes this.
  13. PennyGuy

    PennyGuy US and CDN Copper

    Here is the display I made for my fathers uniform insignia. Those researching family veterans should be aware that the Department Of Defense Form DD214 wasn’t created until 1950.

  14. PennyGuy

    PennyGuy US and CDN Copper

    And my father in law...

  15. fretboard

    fretboard Defender of Old Coinage!

    Great article here John! It's really a shame that Pearl Harbor was bombed in the first place but the truly amazing story is the story of our Japanese Americans who joined the US Army and represented the "GO FOR BROKE", motto by defending our army via the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry in WWII. If you never heard the story, it's all over the internet. These soldiers had family who were living in internment camps because the US detained them into the camps. With that said, they still showed their allegiance to the USA anyways and kicked plenty of arses!! No other race has received more medals than our Japanese Heros!! Here's a pic of the coin set that was minted by the Norfed dollar creator, Bernard von Nothaus! Just sayin'! :D s-l16coinset00.jpg

    List of Decorations awarded to 442nd: 1943 to current, our Japanese soldiers kicked butt in WWII!

    Congressional Gold Medal awarded to 100th Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team , Military Intelligence Service for outstanding service in WW2.

    8 Presidential Unit Citations

    20 Medal Of Honor

    52 Distinguished Service Crosses

    560 Silver Stars

    4000 Bronze Stars

    9400 Purple Hearts

    more medals were awarded to 442nd vets 2013-present)
    Chris B, PlanoSteve and cpm9ball like this.
  16. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Thanks, but it's not the same. My Dad's name was engraved on the two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars, but his framed display was made unique by several things: 1) Even though my Dad was a Medic, he earned the Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) before he became a medic. 2) Included in the display was his wooden POW tag which allowed him access to the various camps to treat other POW's. 3) His dog tags were also in the display. 4) Finally, his records were lost somehow during the Battle of the Bulge, and they had to be "made up" after the war ended. The Army wasn't very efficient along these lines. In 1995 or 1996, the French government decided to award a special medal to all of the American GI's who participated in Operation Overlord, but my Dad's records were incomplete so he did not receive the medal. My Mom actually produced photocopies of all of the "V-Mail" she received from my Dad while he was on the front lines, and by a special act of the French government, Dad was awarded the medal in 1997, just a few months before he died.

  17. green18

    green18 Sweet on Commemorative Coins Supporter

    Which one? We got 2 up here......God Bless 'em. My Dad's in Calverton and my Grandfather is in Farmingdale.......
  18. cpm9ball

    cpm9ball CANNOT RE-MEMBER

    Bless all who served!


  19. Stevearino

    Stevearino Supporter! Supporter

    I understand, Chris. It would be a poor substitute, but maybe a poor one is better than none?

  20. PlanoSteve

    PlanoSteve Supporter! Supporter

    Farmingdale. We were just up there in August for my mother's burial.
  21. capthank

    capthank Well-Known Member

    It is possible to order a replacement set of your fathers WWII medals.
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