In the sixth installation of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the United States Marine Corps, we move forward in time to cover more modern history. In this installation, we see the rise of Germany as the primary enemy of the United States. In our previous edition, you learned that Germany supported the rebel forces during the Haitian Campaign, leading to tense relations between the two nations. In this edition, you will see the tension develop and finally reach a breaking point during World War I. This period of United States military history also signifies the rise of the United States as a true world power and dominant presence in international relations.
By 1916, the Dominican Republic had endured a number of military coups and changes in power. This was causing tension and unrest in the area and the United States felt it necessary to intervene and stabilize the region, especially since they were simultaneously reconstructing Haiti, which shares a border with the Dominican Republic. On May 13, 1916, under the threat of military action from the United States, the Dominican Republic’s Secretary of War Desiderio Arias left the Dominican Republic for good. Within two months, the United States Marines had seized control of the country and began to restore order. Only the eastern region, the area that borders Haiti, was still in utter chaos. However by 1921 the eastern rebels were defeated and the United States had restored complete order to the Dominican Republic. Crippling debt was eliminated, the government had a balanced budget, and the economy was once again growing. Massive infrastructure was also built and new roads were paved while a new and legitimate military was formed. By 1924, a democratic President had been elected, and control was once again handed over to the Dominican Republic, making them a sovereign nation. For a unit to receive the Dominican Campaign streamer, they “must have performed active military duty in the Dominican Republic between the dates of May 5 and December 4, 1916.”
World War I Victory
World War I is a war with which most Americans are familiar. The war was one of the deadliest in world history, with over 9 million soldiers killed in battle. Initially, the United States stayed neutral, attempting to reach peace without intervention. However when a German U-boat sank the British ship RMS Lusitania, 128 Americans were killed and the wheels were set in motion for American involvement in World War I. The breaking point was the Zimmerman Telegram, sent by the German Foreign Minister, which urged Mexico to join the war as a German ally against the United States. The Mexicans would receive German financing to win back Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in return. The telegraph was intercepted and published for the American public. They believed this was a reason to enter the war. The United States entered the war and helped to secure victory for the Allies on November 11, 1918. Originally known as the Victory Streamer, the World War I Victory streamer was awarded to units who had served in the United States armed forces between April 6, 1917 and November 11, 1918. It was also awarded between November 12, 1918 and August 5, 1919 in European Russia or November 23, 1918 and April 1, 1920 with the American Expeditionary Force Siberia.
Army Occupation of Germany
After World War I, Germany faced a number of sanctions as part of the terms of the armistice that ended the war. From 1918 until 1923, members of the United States armed forces, including a number of Marines, served in Germany or areas formerly occupied by Germany and Austria-Hungary to enforce the terms and occupy the countries to ensure civility. The Army Occupation of Germany streamer was awarded retroactively to units “of the U.S. military who served in the European occupation force following the close of the First World War.”
Second Nicaraguan Campaign
Following the initial campaign in Nicaragua in 1912, the United States turned oversight of rebel forces over to the Nicaraguan government. By 1926, the rebels were once again wreaking havoc and causing civil unrest. On August 27, 1926, Marines entered Nicaragua to protect the lives, as well as property of American citizens. Bandits had been pillaging goods and harming US citizens to get it. Once the Americans were protected, the Marines turned their attention to supporting the Nicaraguan government in suppressing thievery and insurrection. The Marines were also instrumental in training the national police force and supervising national elections in order to avoid corruption and unrest. By 1933, the job was done, and Nicaragua was once again a civil nation capable of governing itself. The Second Nicaraguan Campaign streamer is awarded to units that “served on a United States ship or as an embarked Marine, in the waters or land territory of Nicaragua between the dates of August 27, 1926 and January 2, 1933.”
From 1926-27, the US Navy, supported by Marines on the ground, served in China on the Yangtze River and in Shanghai to protect American civilians during the Chinese Civil War. Acts of violence against foreigners were rampant, and the United States decided to step in to protect lives. Once peace was reached, the US military presence retreated; however they were called back into action on March 1, 1930 when the Yangtze River valley experienced severe flooding. This time, the military was working in a humanitarian capacity to aid millions of Chinese who were left homeless by the flooding until 1932. The Yangtze Service streamer was awarded to units “for service in the Yangtze River Valley between the dates of September 3, 1926 and December 31, 1932.”
From 1937-1939, Marines worked in conjunction with the Navy to protect Americans residing in the international settlement in Shanghai. Tensions between China and Japan had boiled over, and Japan was becoming increasingly hostile towards neutral parties such as Americans in China. Aerial bombings were becoming increasingly more frequent as the US Military worked to evacuate United States citizens. By 1939, Americans had been safely evacuated just prior to the start of World War II. After World War II, US troops once again entered China to enforce the Japanese terms of their surrender. The troops were stationed in China and assisted the Chinese government both militarily and in humanitarian efforts to provide food and supplies to famished civilians along the Yangtze River and in Chinese mainland. The effort was complete in 1957 and troops withdrew from the region. The China Service streamer was awarded to units that “served ashore in China or who were attached to any of the vessels that operated in support of the operations in China between 7 July 1937, and 7 September 1939 or between September 2, 1945 and April 1, 1957.”
Stay tuned next week as we cover the American Defense Service, American Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, World War II Victory and Navy Occupation Service streamers. Also, be sure to check out the previous editions of our 10 part series below!
Tyler has over ten years of experience in the military and tactical industry. The son of company founder Steve Berg, Tyler grew up assisting with the business and absorbing everything about the industry. Having recently graduated from college with a degree in Business and Communications, Tyler has joined our team full time. Follow Tyler as he shares fresh perspectives on everything from military history to cutting edge tactical gear.