As we continue on our journey forward in time, the seventh part of our 10 Part Series on the Battle Streamers of the Marine Corps takes us up to and through World War II and the awards handed out for service during World War II and immediately following World War II. Because the war took place in a number of different locations, many awards were created to recognize service in differing regions of the world. While World War I was fought nearly exclusively in Europe, World War II had a number of different theaters to include the American Theater, European Theater, and Pacific Theater. Follow along as we cover each theater and the awards associated with service in each.
American Defense Service
Established in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the American Defense Service streamer was awarded to units that “performed military duty between September 8, 1939 and December 7, 1941.” These dates signify the period of World War II in which the United States had not formally participated. On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the United States in the famous Attack on Pearl Harbor. After the attack, the United States became heavily involved in the war and subsequent service streamers were created to commemorate those campaigns.
Established in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the American Campaign streamer was awarded to units who served in the American Theater during World War II. The American Theater consists of North and South America as well as the neighboring islands in the region. The vast majority of the action during World War II took place in Europe and Asia; however many well known battles did take place in the American Theater, including the Attack on Pearl Harbor, the Aleutian Islands Campaign and the attacks on Newfoundland. To receive the award, a unit must have served with the American theater between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946 and met one of the following criteria:
-On permanent assignment outside the continental limits of the United States
-Permanently assigned as a member of a crew of a vessel sailing ocean waters for a period of 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days
-Outside the continental limits of the United States in a passenger status or on temporary duty for 30 consecutive days or 60 nonconsecutive days
-In active combat against the enemy and was awarded a combat decoration or furnished a certificate by the commanding general of a corps, higher unit, or independent force that the Soldier actually participated in combat
-Within the continental limits of the United States for an aggregate period of 1 year
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign
Established in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign streamer was awarded to units that “had performed military duty in the European Theater (to include North Africa and the Middle East) during the years of the Second World War.” The majority of the conflicts during World War II occurred in the European Theater and US Marines were instrumental in securing victory on the European front. Known as the EAME streamer for short, the award is given to units who served between December 7, 1941 and March 2, 1946 assuming the service took place between the following locations:
-West boundary – From the North Pole, south along the 75th meridian west longitude to the 77th parallel north latitude, thence southeast through Davis Strait to the intersection of the 40th parallel north latitude and the 35th meridian west longitude, thence south along that meridian to the 10th parallel north latitude, thence southeast to the intersection of the equator and the 20th meridian west longitude, thence along the 20th meridian west longitude to the South Pole
-East boundary – From the North Pole, south along the 60th meridian east longitude to its intersection with the eastern border of Iran, thence south along that border to the Gulf of Oman and the intersection of the 60th meridian east longitude, thence south along the 60th meridian east longitude to the South Pole.
Established in 1942 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign streamer was awarded to units that “served in the Pacific Theater from 1941 to 1945.” The United States Marine Corps participated in 50 campaigns in the Pacific Theater. Therefore, the streamer is adorned with eight silver stars and one bronze star. Each Silver Star signifies six awards of the streamer and each bronze star signifies an additional award. Some notable campaigns that occurred in the Pacific Theater include the Battle of Midway, Wake Island and Guadalcanal.
World War II Victory
Established in 1945 by an Act of Congress, the World War II Victory streamer was awarded to units “for service between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946.” Originally called the “Victory streamer,” the award was issued to units, both active duty and reserve, who served between the dates listed above. In an interesting twist, despite the namesake, some units received the award without actually participating in World War II. This is because President Harry Truman did not declare an official end to war until the end of 1946, even though the war ended on September 2, 1945. Therefore, receipt of the award does not necessarily signify that a unit fought in World War II, but instead was a part of the military at some point prior to December 31, 1946.
Navy Occupation Service
After the close of World War II, much like after World War I, United States troops occupied regions of Europe and Asia to enforce post-war sanctions and ensure stability in the region. While the streamer is a Navy award, it can be “issued to Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard personnel who participated in the European and Asian occupation forces during World War II, and following the close of the World War II.” Because forces occupied regions of Europe and Asia, two service clasps bearing the name of the region are authorized for attachment if a unit served in that region. If a unit served in both regions, both clasps are authorized.
Follow along next week as we move forward in time to cover the National Defense Service, Korean Service, Armed Forces Expeditionary, Vietnam Service, Southwest Asia Service, and Kosovo Campaign streamers. Be sure to check out the previous editions of our series below as well!