#9 Service Medals

Charlie wrote down detailed notes about his service medals and included the ribbons in his binder. The corresponding medals are in a display case in my parent’s house. These decorations are part of a long military tradition and are still used today. The ribbons are worn on regular dress uniforms (Fig. 1), while the medals are reserved for full dress uniforms and rarely worn (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1: Modern officers and enlisted sailors in dress uniforms with their service ribbons clearly visible (Image: Wikimedia Commons).
Fig. 2: Modern enlisted sailors wearing full dress uniforms and service medals (Image: Wikimedia Commons).
Charlie’s service ribbons.

#1. Asiatic-Pacific Campaign

#2. Middle East Campaign

#3. American Campaign

#4. Good Conduct

#5. Occupation Service (Tokyo Harbor)

They also issued a World War II Victory ribbon which I never bought. I do not have the medal. Good Conduct Medal only meant I never got into any serious trouble. It was nice to have when you were looking for a promotion (raise in pay).

The World War II Victory Medal that Charlie was entitled to but which he never purchased (Image: Wikimedia Commons).

What Charlie calls the Occupation Service medal is actually the Philippine Liberation Medal (placed upside down in the picture). The two bronze stars (one is missing but you can see where it was placed) are possibly for his service in the Leyte and Luzon Operations. Charlie would have been entitled to the Occupation Service medal because he was stationed (though briefly) in Tokyo Harbor after September 2, 1945. I don’t have this medal and it’s possible that he never acquired it.

We were awarded seven Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medal for participation in the following operations:

1 Star – Marianas Operation: Capture of Saipan and Guam.

1 Star – Capture of Tinian.

1 Star – Western Caroline Islands Operation: Capture of Southern Palau Islands; Assault of the Philippine Islands.

1 Star – Leyte Operation: Third Fleet supporting Okinawa operations; Northern Luzon and Formosa attacks; Battle of Surigao; Luzon attacks, Visayas attacks.

1 Star – Luzon Operation: Luzon attacks; Formosa attacks; China coast attacks.

1 Star – Iwo Jima Operation: assault on Iwo Jima, Fifth Fleet raids against Honshu and the Nansei Shoto.

1 Star – Okinawa Gunto Operation: Fifth Fleet raids in support of Okinawa.

The Halsey Powell did not participate in the Battle of Surigao Strait. After 45 years Charlie must have confused this with the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea, which was part of the Leyte Operation and in which the Halsey Powell did take part. On the Asiatic-Pacific medal there are two bronze stars and one larger silver star. These are service stars and were used to augment the ribbon on which they were placed. In this case they represent the seven battle stars earned by the Halsey Powell. The silver star is equal to five bronze stars.

I forget how, but my family learned of the creation of the “50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945” medal that the Russian government began issuing in 1995. This medal was primarily for Russian service members who fought in WWII but was also available to non-Russians who contributed to the Russian war effort. While on the SS Alexander H. Stephens Charlie helped deliver Lend-Lease weapons to the Soviet Union via ports in Iraq and Iran, and this made him eligible for the award. We thought this medal would be an interesting way to further honor Charlie’s service. My parents applied for the medal and it was awarded to Charlie posthumously in 1997.

Letter from the Russian Ambassador awarding the medal to Charlie.
Information sheet included with the medal.
Official certificate that came with the medal (this image and one below).

2 thoughts on “#9 Service Medals

  1. Cheryl Rogan

    Very well done, a loving tribute to your Grandfather, thanks for your hard work.

  2. Nancy Schmuldt
    Nancy Schmuldt says:

    Matt, I’ve just read through all of the tincansailor posts (again) and am amazed at the details and documents that your Grandfather Charlie left for you. He would be proud of how you shared his memories. Not knowing how long facebook will have posts do you have plans to keep a printed copy for future generations? I hope so.

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