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Navy Expeditionary Medal

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Title: Navy Expeditionary Medal  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: USS Claude V. Ricketts (DDG-5), USS Emory S. Land (AS-39), Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, VFA-32, Charles Swift
Collection: Awards and Decorations of the United States Navy, Awards Established in 1936
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Navy Expeditionary Medal

Navy Expeditionary Medal
Awarded by United States Navy
Type Medal
Eligibility US Navy officers and enlisted
Awarded for Landed on foreign territory and engaged in operations against armed opposition, or operated under circumstances which, after full consideration, shall be deemed to merit special recognition and for which service no campaign medal has been awarded.
Status Currently Awarded
Clasps Wake Island
Established August 5, 1936
First awarded 12 Feb 1874 (Retroactive) (Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands)
Last awarded 15 Dec 2002[1]
Next (higher) U.S. Navy - Fleet Marine Force Ribbon
U.S. Marine Corps - Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal
Equivalent U.S. Marine Corps - Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Next (lower) China Service Medal
Related Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal

Service ribbon

The Navy Expeditionary Medal is a military award of the United States Navy which was first created in August 1936 by General Orders of the Department of the Navy. "The medal will be awarded," reads the Orders, "to the officers and enlisted men of the Navy who shall have actually landed on foreign territory and engaged in operations against armed opposition, or operated under circumstances which, after full consideration, shall be deemed to merit special recognition and for which service no campaign medal has been awarded. The Navy Expeditionary Medal is retroactively authorized to February 12, 1874."

The medal was designed by A. A. Weinman and features a sailor beaching a craft carrying marines, an officer, and a US flag with the word "Expeditions" above. On the reverse of both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal and Navy Expeditionary Medal, in the center of the bronze medallion an eagle is shown alight upon an anchor; the eagle is facing to the left and the flukes of the anchor are to the right. The eagle is grasping sprigs of laurel, which extend beyond the anchor in both directions. Above the eagle are the words UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS or UNITED STATES NAVY presented as an arch. Above the laurel are the words FOR SERVICE presented horizontally. The eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States, the anchor alludes to Marine Corps or Navy service, and the laurel is symbolic of victory and achievement.

The medal is one of the few Navy awards which is not concurrently bestowed to the United States Marine Corps, as Marine Corps personnel are eligible for the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal as an equivalent award. In addition, since 1961, some Navy commands have permitted service members to choose between the Navy Expeditionary Medal and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for participation in certain operations. Both awards may not be bestowed simultaneously for the same action.[2][3]

Additional awards of the Navy Expeditionary Medal are denoted by service stars. The Wake Island Device is authorized for those service members who were awarded the Navy Expeditionary Medal through the defense of Wake Island.[4]

Under the “deemed to merit special recognition and for which service no campaign medal has been awarded“ clause, both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal (MCEM) and Navy Expeditionary Medal (NEM) have been awarded for classified operations with proper adjudication by the Secretary of the Navy Special Awards Board. The MCEM and NEM "can be authorized and awarded to individuals or units who have participated in classified operations not necessarily in connection with larger operations in which the public is aware.” The SECNAV INSTRUCTION 1650.1H - NAVY AND MARINE CORPS AWARDS MANUAL details the process via the Special Awards Board for issuing classified awards. Anecdotal reports from former service members cite a wide variety of classified operations for which the MCEM and NEM have reportedly been awarded, ranging from Marine Corps units clandestinely deployed in Africa, to helicopter gun-crews or force protection units assisting SEAL-DEVGRU or DeltaForce teams world-wide, and even classified submarine movements during the Cold War. In cases where the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal or Navy Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for classified operations, the name of the operation is omitted from public documentation including from the individual service member’s DD214 personnel record with only the name of the award and issue date provided.

Both the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal (MCEM) and Navy Expeditionary Medal (NEM) have been fraudulently worn by military service members convicted under the UCMJ and civilians fraudulently claiming to have been awarded the MCEM or NEM along with other medals such as the Purple Heart (see Stolen Valor Act for applicable criminal legislation). It has been widely reported that L. Ron Hubbard fraudulently claimed being awarded the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal. The issuance of military awards is available via a public records search and from lists of authorized recipients available online. In recent years, a number of television news crews have confronted people fraudulently wearing military awards and “Stolen Valor” websites publicly shame those who fraudulently wear or claim military awards and will notify federal law enforcement when they believe the activity rises to the level of a crime such as fraud for profit-or-gain, falsely receiving veterans services, falsifying a federal document such as the DD214, or violation of the Stolen Valor Act.


  1. ^ End date for Operation Determined Response (for forces involved in the response to the USS Cole bombing and subsequent investigation in Yemen). This is the most recent public awarding. The dates of awardings for any classified operations are not public knowledge
  3. ^ Navy and marine corps awards manual, secnavinst 1650.1 series
  4. ^ Service Medals and Campaign Credit of the United States Navy, Navy Expeditionary Medal
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