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West Indies Campaign Medal
This award was authorized in 1908 for members of the Navy and Marine
Corps who served aboard ships in the West Indies. It was rarely given, as
most of those men were entitled to the "Sampson
Medal" and two awards could not be given for the same service.
For this reason it later was discontinued.
The design, by Bailey, Banks and Biddle, is almost the same as that
of the Navy Spanish Campaign Medal. It shows Morro
Castle, which guards Havana Harbor.
[Historical note: Just how much attention is paid to the colors
selected for service medal ribbons? Unfortunately, sometimes a mistake will
In 1908, the red-and-yellow color scheme was selected for the West
Indies and Spanish campaign medals. Hundreds were awarded and worn before
Navy leadership belatedly decided that a ribbon bearing the colors of the
defeated Spanish nation - who by that time once again were allies - was
inappropriate and orders were issued changing the ribbon color to blue-and-yellow.
The change was duly made in 1913, but not without scores of the medals
leaving the service through discharges and retirements. Officially, the
color remains blue-and-yellow, but finding one with the politically incorrect
red-and-yellow helps verify the age of this particular service medal.]
21 June 1998