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World War I Victory Medal
World War I Victory Medal (full)

World War I Victory Medal
Awarded by the United States
Type Campaign Medal
Awarded for 4.6. 1917 - 11.11.1918
(for any military service)
11.12.1918 - 8.5.1919
(service in European Russia)
11.23.1918 - 4.1.1920
(Service with A.E.F. Siberia)
Status Obsolete
Statistics
Established April 9, 1919
(War Department General Orders 48)
First awarded April, 1921
Last awarded -
Total awarded Over 1,000,000
Precedence
Next (higher) Mexican Border Service Medal
Next (lower) Army of Occupation of Germany Medal

The World War I Victory Medal is a decoration of the United States military which was first created in 1919, designed by James Earle Fraser. The medal was originally intended to be created by an act of the United States Congress, however the bill authorizing the decoration never passed, leaving the service departments to create the award through general orders. The United States Army published orders authorizing the World War I Victory Medal in April 1919 and the U.S. Navy followed in June of that same year.

CriteriaEdit

Originally known simply as the “Victory Medal”, the World War I Victory Medal was awarded to any member of the U.S. military who had served in the armed forces between the following dates, in the following locations:

In 1945, the World War II Victory Medal was created as the “Victory Ribbon”. Between 1945 and 1947, the two awards were known as the “Victory Medal” and the “Victory Ribbon”. In 1947, when the Victory Ribbon became a full-sized medal as the World War II Victory Medal, the World War I Victory Medal adopted its current name. However, some military records as late as the 1950s continued to annotate the decoration by its previous name, and the medal was often referred to as “Victory Medal (WWI)”.

The WWI Victory Medals for the US Army veterans were mailed out by the Depot Officer at the General Supply Depot U.S. Army, Philadelphia, PA. The boxes with the medals to the US Army servicemen were mailed out April 1921. The postage area of the boxes were marked "OFFICIAL BUSINESS, Penalty for private use $300." Inside the outer light brown box with an address label glued to it was a white box with the medal. The inner white box that held the medal was ink stamped with the bars the serviceman was supposed to receive on their medal. Inside the white box the medal was wrapped in tissue paper. Because the medals were awarded post WWI they were mailed to the servicemen instead of awarded in person.

The front of the bronze medal features a winged Victory holding a shield and sword on the front. The back of the bronze medal features "The Great War For Civilization" in all caps curved along the top of the medal. Curved along the bottom of the back of the medal is six stars. Three on either side of the center column of seven staffs wrapped in a cord. The top of the staff has a round ball on top and is winged on the side. the staff is on top of a shield that says "U" on the left side of the staff and "S" on the right side of the staff. On left side of the staff it lists one country per line: France, Italy, Serbia, Japan, Montenegro, Russia and Greece. On the right side of the staff the country names read: Great Britain, Belgium, Brazil, Portugal, Rumania (spelled with a U instead of an O as it is spelled in modern times) and China.

DevicesEdit

To denote battle participation and campaign credit, the World War I Victory was authorized with a large variety of devices to denote specific accomplishments. In order of seniority, the devices authorized to the World War I Victory Medal were as follows:

Silver Citation StarEdit

The Silver Citation Star to the World War I Victory Medal was authorized by the United States Congress on 4 February 1919. A silver star was authorized to be worn on the ribbon of the Victory Medal for any member of the U.S. Army who had been cited for gallantry in action between 1917 and 1920. In 1932, the Silver Citation Star was redesigned and renamed the Silver Star and, upon application to the United States War Department, any holder of the Silver Citation Star could have it converted to a Silver Star Medal.

Navy Commendation StarEdit

The Navy Commendation Star was authorized to any person who had been commended by the Secretary of the Navy for performance of duty during the First World War. The Navy Commendation Star was worn as a silver star on the World War I Victory Medal, identical in appearance to the Army’s Silver Citation Star. Unlike the Army’s version, however, the Navy Commendation Star could not be upgraded to the Silver Star medal. (Reference – Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual, NAVPERS 15,790 Rev. 1953.)

Army Battle ClaspsEdit

The following battle clasps, inscribed with a battle's name, were worn on the medal to denote participation in major ground conflicts.

For general defense service, not involving a specific battle, the "Defensive Sector" Battle Clasp was authorized. The clasp was also awarded for any battle which was not already recognized by its own battle clasp.

The WWI Victory Medal bears the clasps of the battles the US Army participated in across the ribbon. Not all battles are shown on the bar clasps. Only the battles designated as battles that would have bars issued were shown on the medal. The famous battle of Chateau Thierry to hold the Chateau and the bridge as a joint effort between the US Army and the US Marines against the German machine gunners did not get awarded clasps.

Navy Battle ClaspsEdit

Navy battle clasps were issued for naval service in support of army operations and had identical names to the army battle clasps. There was a slight variation of the criteria dates for the navy battle clasps, as listed below.

  • Aisne (1–5 June 1918)
  • Aisne-Marne (18–20 July 1918)
  • Meuse-Argonne (29 September to 10 October 1918, and 25 October to 11 November 1918)
  • St. Mihiel (12–16 September 1918)
  • Ypres-Lys (Service in support of the Northern Bombing Group)

The Defensive Sector Clasp was also authorized for navy personnel who had participated in naval combat but were not authorized a particular battle clasp.

Navy Operational ClaspsEdit

For sea related war duty, the Navy issued the following operational clasps, which were worn on the World War I Victory Medal and inscribed with the name of the duty type which had been performed:

  • Armed Guard: For merchant personnel (freighters, tankers, and troop ship) between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Asiatic: For service on any vessel that visited a Siberian port between the dates of 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 and from 12 November 1918, and 30 March 1920. For the second period of service, the port visit must have exceeded ten days in length.
  • Atlantic Fleet: For service in the Atlantic Fleet between 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Aviation: For service involving flying over the Atlantic Ocean between the dates of 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Destroyer: For service on destroyers on the Atlantic Ocean between 25 May 1918 and 11 November 1918.
  • Escort: For personnel regularly attached to escort vessels on the North Atlantic between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Grand Fleet: For personnel assigned to any ship of the “United States Grand Fleet” between 9 December 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Mine Laying: For service in mine laying sea duty between the dates of 26 May to 11 November 1918.
  • Mine Sweeping: For service in mine sweeping sea duty between 6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918.
  • Mobile Base: For service on tenders and repair vessels between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Naval Battery: For service as a member of a naval battery detachment between 10 July and 11 November 1918.
  • Overseas: For service on shore in allied or enemy countries of Europe from 6 April 1918 to 11 November 1918.
  • Patrol: For any war patrol service on the Atlantic Ocean between the dates of 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Salvage: For salvage duty performed on the seas between 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • Submarine: For submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean between 25 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Submarine Chaser: For anti-submarine duty performed on the Atlantic Ocean between 18 May and 11 November 1918.
  • Transport: For personnel regularly attached to a transport or cargo vessel between the dates of 6 April 1917 and 11 November 1918.
  • White Sea: For service on any vessel which visited a Russian port or performed war patrols in the White Sea not less than ten days between 12 November 1918 and 31 July 1919.

Unlike the army, the navy only allowed one clasp of any type to be worn on the ribbon. Members of the marine or medical corps who served in France but was not eligible for a battle clasp would receive a bronze Maltese cross on their ribbons.

Army Service ClaspsEdit

For non-combat service with the army during the First World War, the following service clasps were authorized to be worn with the World War I Victory Medal. Each service claps was inscribed with a country or region name where support service was performed. The U.S. Army issued the following service clasps:

  • England (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • France (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Italy (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Russia (Any service)
  • Siberia (Any service)

Navy Service ClaspsEdit

The U.S. Navy issued similar service clasps to the Army for service in the following regions during the following periods:

  • England (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • France (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Italy (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)
  • Russia (12 November 1918 to 31 July 1919)
  • Siberia (12 November 1918 to 30 March 1920)
  • West Indies (6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918)

Campaign StarsEdit

Since battle and service clasps could only be worn on the full-sized World War I Victory Medal, bronze service stars were authorized for wear on the award ribbon. This was the common method of campaign and battle display when wearing the World War I Victory Medal as a ribbon on a military uniform.

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