A Ground and Air Medal.

Awarded for Meritorious Achievement both the Air Medal and the Bronze Star were created as gap fillers due to the numbers of serving personnel in the US military during World War Two. The Air Medal established in 1942 for meritorious achievement during aerial flight by the then Secretary of War, Henry L Stimson and is still awarded to this day. It was felt a second decoration was required to address those serving and although conceived initially by the Army Air Force was also adopted by the Navy but at the same time not wanting to cheapen the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. The Medal was authorized by President Roosevelt in May 1942.

The Office of the Quartermaster General selected the design submitted by Walker Hancock and this is the design we see today of a sixteen pointed star with an eagle in flight carrying in each talon a lightning strike. A raised circular disc on the reverse is left blank for engraving. Awarded retrospectively from September 8th 1939.

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Hancock’s design was approved by the Secretary of War on 31 December 1942. Hancock, who was serving in the Army at the time had been assigned to the G1 War Department to work on his design for the medal. The medal was finally approved by the Chief of Staff, August 1942 with a ribbon design prepared by the Office of the Quartermaster General. Awarded to all service members who distinguished themselves by meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight for combat and non combat single acts of merit or sustained operational activities against an armed enemy of the United States.

Like its counterpart the Bronze Star, the Air Medal is not uncommon as many were awarded especially during WW2 to members of the RAF who aided the US Air Force on operations in the European Theatre. That’s why a number of these medals turn up quite regularly at medal and militaria shows in the UK. Devices include V and No 3 for the Army, Gold, Silver & Bronze Star for the Navy & Marine Corp and Oak leaves for the Air Force.

Originally to be called the Ground Medal as a response to the Air Medal, the Bronze Star was authorised 4th February 1944 and was awarded retrospectively from or after 7th December 1941. Awarded to those members of the United States armed service who have distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement in operations against an armed enemy. The medal however is not given to those involved in aerial flight.

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Designed by Bailey, Banks and Biddle the medal is in a shape of a five pointed star with a small raised star in the centre. The reverse has a raised centre with the inscription “Heroic or Meritorious Achievement”. The ribbon displays the colours of old glory with a thin blue centre stripe and two outer narrow white with wide red stripes inside two outer white. Devices include a V for combat service valor with Bronze & Silver oak leaves for subsequent awards for the Army and a V device with Silver & Gold stars for the Navy, Marine Corp and Coast Guard.
The most common WW2 seen on the market is the Army issued slot loop brooch whereas the Navy issues had a much thicker planchett and a wrap brooch.

Both medals are similar in some ways as not being over elaborate but remain tactile and within reach of those on a limited budget but who want to obtain a good quality representation of an award that was no doubt earned by its recipient. Both the Air Medal and the Bronze Star are still awarded today for the same criteria as first awarded during World War Two.

 

 

Eugene B Fluckey USN

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One of the most successful submarine commanders during World War 2, Eugene B Fluckey (aptly nicknamed Lucky) served aboard USS-S2 and USS Bonita before taking command of USS Barb in April 1944. Whilst patrolling off the east coast of China in January 1945 Commander Fluckey located a large convoy of more than 30 Japanese ships. The ships were anchored in Mamkwan harbour which was heavily mined. Fluckey ordered an immediate attack through the shallow, mined and rock formations which presented in itself a difficult attack run. Japanese frigates had been situated in a position to protect the convoy but undeterred Commander Fluckey launched four torpedoes forward and aft and scored eight direct hits including an ammunition ship. Once the attack was complete the USS Barb headed towards open sea whilst under attack from the Japanese Navy and couldn’t submerge until in deep open water.

For this action Commander Fluckey received the Medal of Honor on March 23rd 1945 from James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy.

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Commander Fluckey’s other awards included Four Navy Crosses, Two Distinguished Service Medals and two Legion of Merits!  An incredible set of awards for someone established as one of the greatest submarine skippers in the history of the US Navy. He also sent a landing party on his twelfth patrol in USS Barb onshore to the Japanese mainland in July 1945 to destroy a Sixteen car train in what was to be the only landing by US military forces on Japan during WW2. Fluckey had a distinguished post war career serving the US Navy until his retirement as a Rear Admiral in 1972.

His awards are as follows:

Medal Of Honor (Navy), Navy Cross (plus 3 stars), Distinguished Service Medal (plus Oak Leaf), Legion of Merit (officer Grade plus Gold Star), 2 x Presidntial Unit Citations, 2 x Navy Unit Commendations, American Defense service, Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific campaign, WW2 Victory, National Defense service, Philippine Liberation Ribbon and the Portugese Medalha de Merito Militar for his time as the Naval Air Attache in Portugal (August 1950 to July 1953).

In 2003 the United States Naval Academy presented Eugene B Fluckey with the Distinguished Graduate Award.

Eugene Bennett Fluckey, born October 5th 1913, Washington D.C. Died June 28th 2007 Annapolis, Maryland. Buried U S Navy Academy Cemetery.

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Resourced Information from:

Wikipedia, Medal Of Honor (Portraits of Valor beyond the call of duty) Nick Del Calzo & Peter Collier, Artisan press N.Y. , & Naval subleague.org

George W Studley.

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*Picture of George W Studley taken from his book “Regulation War Medals” published by G W Studley, Rochester, NY.

I have in  my collection of United States medals a pair of US Nicaraguan Campaign Medals 1912 one of which was possibly made or sold by George Studley of Avon N.Y.

George Studley (1893 – 1968) enlisted in the US Navy in 1909 and served in Cuba, Panama and China. He was discharged from the Navy in 1922 after re enlisting to serve in WW1.  After he left the Navy he became a Gold prospector, steeplejack, steel rigger and a coal miner. Whilst being a member of many veterans associations he saw that many of the ribbons worn by veterans were frayed and dirty and set about manufacturing his own ribbons and insignia. After securing permission from the Navy and Army Departments he was authorized to purchase ribbons. Realising the potential for his work amongst fellow veterans he began advertising his services and in April 1928 was authorized to sell his ribbons and insignia along with miniature medals but was not allowed to issue full size medals. His original source for medals were the US Mint, Bailey Banks and Biddle and K C Davidson of Philadelphia. He was also an author writing about Service Medals. His book “Regulation War Medals” is still sought after and he produced ribbon charts. He collected military medals and ribbons in what would eventually become one of the biggest collections in the world. During WW2 he built a business manufacturing medal Ribbons and even supplied General MacArthur with ribbon sets. Studley was given Congressional authorization in April 1928 to sell “articles of military insignia”. He could sell miniature federal US medals but technically not issue full size medals. Congress in 1923 had enacted a law prohibiting the unofficial manufacturing and sale of US medals and awards. One would assume that any medals George Studley manufactured would be those issued prior to 1923?

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1912 Nicaraguan Campaign Medal. L: USMC R: Navy.

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1912 Nicaraguan Campaign Medal Reverse, Navy & Marine Corp. Navy is possible US Mint re-issue and USMC is I believe Studley Manufactured due to variance in their likeness, weight, suspension ring and their planchett thickness.

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George Studley regularly attended medal shows to sell ribbons and medals. He was one of the founding members of the Orders & Medal Society of America and made ribbon sets for General Douglas MacArthur and furnished lapel pins for President Harry S Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower. Medals supplied by George Studley appear on the internet from time to time and are very collectible and command a high price. The original official medals for these early campaigns were issued numbered but replacements were un-numbered when issued to their recipients. There are no markings on these medals to prove they were made by Studley as is often the case. US Mint manufactured medals are usually thicker than say medals by Heckthorn for example but not as thick as these Nicaraguan Service Medals?

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Another possible candidate? Yangtze Service (1926 – 1932) with full wrap brooch and very thick un-numbered planchett.

Three more candidates, US Navy Spanish Campaign 1898, US Navy China Relief Expedition 1900 & US Navy Mexican Service Medal 1911-1917.

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All 3 with the “For Service” inscription straight instead of curved.

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Very thick planchett on all 3 medals.

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Haitian Campaign 1919-1920 with straight script “For Service”.

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Studley made ribbons and as you can see these are labelled as such, but I have absolutely no idea which service or campaign these were issued for?

Resources for this article were: Orders & Medal Society of America, themedalcollector.com and “The Call of Duty” by Strandberg & Bender.

Doing their bit.

With the recent remembrance services to honour those that served their respective countries and made the ultimate sacrifice we also remember the service men and women who returned home but we seem to sometimes overlook the part played by civilians in wartime. There has always been the necessity to support the armed forces engaged in major conflicts and these forces would never have been able to function correctly without the effort to supply, resupply and maintain the arms, vehicles, planes and ships required to continue any campaign. With “Total War” the whole country becomes engaged with “Doing their bit”!

Because of this involvement, should “Innocent” civilians employed in war production become legitimate targets? Difficult question and somewhat controversial I know but the bombing of factories engaged in war material production was prosecuted relentlessly during World War 2 on all sides. These civilians also served their country, so let us not forget the Grandparents, Fathers, Mothers, Aunties and Uncles who were employed in the manufacture of the necessary equipment required to support the armed forces.

The United States was seen as the “Arsenal of Democracy”,  a phrase used by President Franklin D Roosevelt as he rallied support in favour of supply of armaments to those countries fighting against the tyranny of National Socialism in Europe but after Pearl Harbor the US turned its industrial might to that of War production not only for lend lease but arms and equipment to supply its own armed forces. We tend to lose sight of the monumental effort not only by civilians but the industries themselves that changed production from everyday household items to weapons. IBM producers of tabulating equipment and more recently computer systems manufacturing the M1 Carbine. Car manufacturers in Detroit building armoured vehicles such as the Sherman Tank, over 49,000 by 1946. 12700 Boeing B17 Flying Fortress aircraft being produced at various plants throughout the country. Ford making B24 Consolidated Liberators at the Willow Run complex near Michigan. Liberty ships made specifically for transporting goods across the Atlantic under the control of the Merchant Navy, a civilian service.

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All this work from both civilian men and women should not be forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic, because without this monumental effort the allies would never have been able to gain the final victory in Europe and the Far East.

The Merchant Marine issued a number of service medals after WW2 and since then there have been established meritorious and service medals for civilians while serving alongside the Navy, Airforce and Army.

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Lest we forget….

 

The Great War for Civilisation.

On Sunday 11th November 2018 we commemorate 100 years since the cessation of hostilities between the Allied Forces and Imperial Germany on the European Western Front, Eastern Front and the Mediterranean.

The First World War or Great War would not officially end until the signing of the Versailles treaty in 1919 but not until the losses of all the countries involved including Great Britain, France, Germany (Austria-Hungary), Russia, Italy and of course the United States of America totalled somewhere near 18 Million.

Fighting alongside the British and French forces in Europe the American Expeditionary Force was commanded by General John J Pershing when the United States entered the war in April 1917. The AEF fought its main battles in 1918 at St Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne region. The AEF also fought alongside the Italian Army against Austro-Hungarian forces and sent an expeditionary force to Russia. There were 4 divisions in France by the end of 1917. 1st Division of regular army troops, the 2nd Division of regular army and United States Marines, the 26th National Guard Division and the 42nd “Rainbow Division of National Guard from nearly all the states in the U.S. By the end of 1918 there were 7 Divisions of the AEF numbering some 500,000 men under Pershing’s command of the 1st Army. U S casualties amounted to approx. 114,000 killed whilst serving in Europe.

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Allan Donald, Intelligence Squad, Battery D, 3rd Heavy Field Artillery. In 1918 the American Expeditionary Force numbered circa 2 million men at the time of the signing of the Armistice.

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WW1 Victory Medal with Aisne-Marne, St Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector Bars attached. 4th Division of the American Expeditionary Force.

Awarded to those who served in the armed forces between the following dates, in the following locations:

6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 for any military service.

12 November 1918, to 5 August 1919 for service in European Russia

23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force Siberia.

Army battle clasps awarded were for the Aisne, Aisne-Marne, Cambrai, Champagne-Marne, Lys, Meuse Argonne, Montdidier-Noyon, Oise-Aisne, St Mihiel, Somme-Defensive, Somme-Offensive, Vittorio-Veneto(Italy) and Ypres-Lys.

A clasp 23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force, Siberia.

“Defensive Sector” was also added for general defense not involved in a specific battle.

Clasps for the Navy include England, France, Italy, Russia, Siberia and the West Indies.

Reverse has all the allied nations who took part in the “Great War for Civilization”.

WW1 Commemorative medals awarded by the State of New York (No 31801) and the State of Connecticut (made by Robbins Co, Attleboro, Mass).

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Reverse of the US WW1 Victory Medal showing the other allied countries who served during the “Great War”. I’ve always wondered who came up with that title but I suppose until 1939 and the outbreak of a second Great War then you could call this war the First.

Over the years we in the UK have remembered our sacrifice of the young men from these shores who were killed not only in the first and second war but the conflicts since then. However this Armistice Day does mark the 100th Anniversary since the guns fell silent and its easy for us to forget the other allied sacrifices made by countries like the United States.

Lest We Forget…and God Bless America.

17 years ago on this day.

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Most of us can remember some momentous events in our lives and where we were on that day.  The death of Princess Diana, the shooting of John Lennon, even JFK but the most surreal event has to be 9-11. Seems almost unimaginable what happened in New York City that terrible day. I was at work in the UK and I remember the news on the radio saying that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers and by the time I had turned on the TV the second plane had hit the other tower. My colleagues and I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing and I turned to them and said “better dig yourselves a shelter, cause I think we’re going to need one”!

Since then events have moved on and there followed the Afghanistan campaign and the Iraq war with the ever changing war on Terrorism. Other events have occurred in London, Paris and Berlin to name but a few. I always felt though that the 9-11 attack wasn’t only an attack on the United States but an attack on the free world and there were a lot of people from different nationalities killed that day all going about their business. There was also the attack on the Pentagon and not forgetting Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania.

17 years seems to have gone by in an instant but the memory of that day will live on for ever in the history of the world or should that be free world?

Medals awarded to US service personnel for Afghanistan, Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism.

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Availability of good quality US Medals and Awards in the UK (or lack of).

I suppose its pretty obvious that living in the UK has its limitations when it comes down to being able to buy US medals. And lets be honest now, US medals are not as popular as UK medals on this side of the pond. There is access to the web where every once in a while (on a certain internet auction site) good quality US medals become available and I should know I’ve purchased a few good one’s in my time as a collector. But this isn’t the “norm” unless you look stateside where there is an abundance of the better quality medals available. Sometimes even with postage and import duties (should you get the red card through the door) they are cheaper to purchase from the US? Militaria and medal shows can sometimes throw up a good buy but that is few and far between with a lot of the UK medal shows concentrating on British and German awards. Price can also be a factor and I find it frustrating when I do see US medals with a crazy price for what is a restrike of a medal that can be purchased from the states for a lot less.

Obviously there is a bigger market in the US and this not only applies to medals but to most militaria, helmets, field gear, uniforms, patches and badges (badges! we don’t need no stinking badges….. actually…we do in our collections). The more popular available in the UK are the Army Airforce WW2 medals such as the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart complete with ribbon, lapel pin and coffin box. No doubt some of these medals awarded to members of the RAF for their assistance during the war. You may also find a single award attached to a set of British medals only to find you need deep pockets to purchase.

I recently managed to find a set of 5 US Navy Korean war medals but I had to look quite hard to find them tucked away in a corner of a display cabinet at a local medal show. There is the exception to the rule with a couple of dealers who specialise in US medals and badges but not always the quality you desire only quantity or the price being an issue dependant on what you are happy to part with monetarily. I suppose we just have to grin and bear it and keep looking and be patient and hopefully we can come up trumps*.

Good hunting and here’s to finding the next addition to your collection.

Trumps*  is an old English meaning derived from the word triumph or to have a better outcome than expected or performance.

Its Quality that counts…

The one thing I look for when buying medals or anything else for that matter is the quality of the item. That’s fair to say of all things and its this quality that defines some medals more than others. Some of the US Awards and even general service medals are of a very high standard. The finish and overall appearance gives it that high end quality factor that can only been found in a medal where attention to detail and finish has been applied. These are some examples of what I consider to be some of the best Awards manufactured due to the high definition, finish and overall patina which set them apart from the rest.

 

 

 

Do Your Research…and I do mean it!

I’ve always said as a collector of anything that the time and effort you put into research will pay dividends. However there is the odd occasion where you can be caught out by misinformation especially on the internet. Now I’m not going to name names and all that but recently I saw a Medal of Honor for sale (in the UK) and realised that the vendor had made a mistake with the name of the manufacturer. I contacted a company in the USA that makes insignia and medals and they confirmed to me that they had never manufactured the Medal of Honor. Fine so far but I then happened upon an article that said the MoH was made from Gold @ 2.5 ounces. So armed with this information I passed this onto the vendor who thanked me for this and published this information as part of the selling point. The vendor pointed out that the value of the MoH would be £2000+ ($2648+) which seemed high to me as HLP were selling their MOH’s out the back door in 1995 at $75 a piece.  Much to my disbelief it seemed I’d made an monumental error in my research and I apologised profusely after more research to prove my mistake as I didn’t want to appear to have mislead the vendor on any information I may of supplied. Thankfully the vendor was okay with this and used the correct information I had supplied to add to his advert.

Now I’m very sensitive to criticism and my “Chimp” started to beat the crap out of me for making what appeared to be a stupid mistake on my part. On reflection though I realised that this wasn’t my fault but I should have checked further before passing on any information. Lesson learned! That is why we need to take our time when researching every avenue of information and question anything you feel may have a bearing on your investigations. I must admit it did make me feel a bit down hearted as I felt somewhat stupid about the whole saga but time and collecting moves on, so onto the next piece of research and information especially the Purple Heart as that’s my next page to add to my blog.

Onward and Upward folks and Happy 4th of July.

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Topical set of five.

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Recently attended a local medal fair and bought this set of five mounted medals to the US Navy for service in the Korean War. Very topical with what’s going on in the news.
Been after a set of these for some time so was well pleased these were available.
Left to right: China Service (Navy), Occupation Service (Navy with Asia Bar), Defense Medal (replaced ribbon?), Korean War service (with 3 battle stars) and United Nations Medal for Korea.  Unfortunately not named but nice to have especially with the UN medal attached. Both the China service and Navy Occupation service are US Mint manufactured.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Authorised August 1940 the China Service medal awarded for service during two periods July 7th 1937 to September 7th 1939 for service ashore in China and post war September 2nd 1945 to April 1st 1957 for service in China, Matsu Straits and Taiwan, a bronze star was added if service personnel qualified for both time periods.

navy The Navy Occupation service medal Authorised January 1948 for service in Germany 45-55, Austria 45-55, Italy 45-47, Berlin from 1945, Japan 45-52 and Korea from September 1945 to April 1952. Clasps for Europe and Asia can be added and there is different reverse for the Marine Corps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Awarded over three different periods (1950-1959, 1961- 1974 and from 1990 onwards) the National Defense service Medal was awarded to enlisted men and officers for active duty service.

korean Korean War Service Medal awarded for thirty consecutive days service from June 1950 to July 1954 (sixty days non consecutive service). Silver and bronze stars (all services), Arrowhead device (Army & USAF) and Marine Corp device (Navy) could also be added to the ribbon.

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United Nations Service Medal (Korea) Authorised 1951 and awarded to all services on behalf of United Nations Forces in Korea June 1950 to July 1954. Other countries were also awarded this medal including British and Commonwealth forces for service in Korea.

 

Lets hope that Donald and Kim keep up the good work so we don’t have to issue a second Korean war medal. Here’s to peace on the peninsula.