The act of 3 March 1901, provides: "that the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause to be struck bronze medals commemorative of the naval and other engagements in the waters of the West Indies and on the shores of Cuba during the War with Spain, and to distribute the same to the officers and men of the Navy and Marine Corps who participate in any of said engagements deemed by him of sufficient importance to deserve commemoration."
The commemorative medal was issued to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who took part in West Indies naval operations from April 27 to August 14, 1898.
[Historical note: The front was designed by Charles E. Barber and shows a bust of Admiral William Sampson. The back was designed by George T. Morgan. At the top of the ribbon is a brooch pin with the name of the recipient's ship. Additional matching engagement bars were authorized and mounted on the ribbon. The medal was issued for 47 engagements or skirmishes and some were awarded with six or seven engagement bars. The recipient's name is engraved on the lower rim of the medal, this being one of only two medals officially issued named to a recipient.]
Source: 1948, 1953 U.S. Navy Awards Manual
14 June 1998