On the night of 15 February 1898 the battleship USS Maine was shattered by an explosion which sent the ship and two-thirds of her crew to the bottom of Havana harbor. Bolstered by wide-spread sympathy for those who were seeking Cuban independence from Spain's colonial rule, the emotion-charged Maine tragedy forced the already strained Spanish-American relations to the breaking point, precipitating a short war rapidly decided by two naval engagements.
On 1 May the U.S. Pacific Squadron under Commodore George Dewey steamed into Manila Bay, Philippine Islands, and destroyed the Spanish fleet. Two months later, Admiral William Sampson repeated with an annihilating victory over the Spanish in a running battle off Santiago, Cuba.
In addition to Sampson and Dewey's crushing victories, naval operations included blockade of the Cuban coast, bombardment of Spanish fortifications at San Juan, Puerto Rico by battleship USS Iowa., armored cruiser USS New York and other ships, and gunfire support of Marine and Army landings in Cuba and Puerto Rico. America emerged from the Spanish-American War as a major naval power.
4 Bronze stars
1. Battle of Manila Bay (1 May 1898)
2. Pacific Ocean operation
3. Battle of Santiago (3 July 1898)
4. Atlantic/Caribbean operations