Membership

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Since WWII, 11 operations recognized by the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal have made veterans eligible for the VFW.

Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal Recognizes Many Operations Since 1874, sailors and Leathernecks conducting dangerous missions have earned the Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary medals. Reviewed below are those actions that occurred during or after WWII.

Members of the seafaring services often intervened in distant corners of the world. Those who perform this dangerous duty seldom gain notoriety. The Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary medals (N/ MCEMs) are the nation's method of recognizing their sacrifices.

Created separately-MCEM (1919) and NEM ( 1936)-the medals were both made retroactive to 1874. Since then, 63 operations in 27 different countries have been recognized. In every case, both medals were awarded in each operation.

Since World War II-the period most relevant for VFW recruiters-participants of 11 operations are authorized to wear the medals. One battle of WWII is covered, too: Wake Island.

From Dec. 7-22, 1941, the 1st Marine Defense Battalion, Marine Fighter Squadron VMF-211, 69 Navy and six Army Signal corps personnel, as well as some civilian construction workers, took on the Japanese Fourth Fleet and Special Naval Landing Force.

Though seriously outnumbered, the Americans managed to repulse-for the first and only time during WWII-a major amphibious landing. The valiant effort earned the sailors and Marines a special device to be worn on their medals-a silver "W" on the ribbon bar and a clasp inscribed "Wake Island" on the suspension ribbon.

It was almost 20 years before an operation merited N/MCEMs again. In January 1961, Navy vessels took up station off Cuba in what would become known as the Bay of Pigs operation. The time period for the medals ran up to the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962.

In May 1962, Thailand called for help and 3,426 Marines and 3,448 sailors responded. …