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Spanish American War's "Spanish War Service Medal"

By Patrick McSherry

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The Spanish Campaign Army Service medal was issued by the United States government to all members of the the U.S. Army who served at least 90 days during the period of the Spanish American War in locations other than the active theaters of operations in Cuba, the Philippines or Puerto Rico. In short, it was for men who served in the army during the war, but who did not see action. Those who saw action were eligble for different medal, the  Spanish Campaign Medal).

The front side (left, above) has the statement "FOR SERVICE IN THE SPANISH WAR" in the front of the keystone. A sheathed knife is slung from the keystone. Surrounding the keystone appears to be a laurel wreath. This was designed by Col. J. R. M. Taylor.

The reverse side (right, above) shows the Great Seal of the United States. The Great Seal is flanked to the left by the crossed rifles of the infantry, to the right by the crossed sabers of the cavalry, and below by the crossed cannons of the artillery. A scroll is placed where it can be engraved if desired. The background appears to be a laurel wreath. This was designed by Bailey, Banks and Biddle

The medal was authorized by Congress on July 9, 1918. Oddly, the period of eligibility was defined as April 20, 1898 to April 11, 1899 but the war lasted from April 22 to December 10, 1898.


(As a service to our readers, clicking on title in red will take you to that book on

Cohen, Stan. Images of Spanish American War, April-August,1998.  (Missoula:Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., Inc., 1997) 357.

"Spanish War Service Medal,"

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