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WWII USMC MoH ENGRAVING


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#1 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:08 PM

As with the WWII Navy MoH engravings, the cataloging stumbling block here is the dearth of photographs of officially engraved pieces.  I have but six:  Gurke, Walsh, Foss, Lucas, DeBlanc, and McCarthy.  Gurke's is the only posthumous award and the photograph of that medal's engraving has been reproduced many times.

 

Based on this very narrow sampling I am able to identify but one format, with a couple of relatively minor variations:

 

                                                                             THE PRESIDENT OF THE

                                                                                    UNITED STATES

                                                                                                TO

                                                                                    (RANK AND NAME)

                                                                                              USMC (R if a reservist)

 

Of the six engraving photographs, three include the recipient's rank and name on a single line, and three put the rank on a separate line above the recipient's name.  Gurke, Walsh, and Foss use one line for the information, while the pieces for Lucas, DeBlanc, and McCarthy put the rank (abbreviated) on a separate line.  The medals for Gurke, Walsh, and Foss were all presented prior to 1945.  The other three were 1945 and later.

 

The one tell-tale sign of an officially engraved USMC WWII MoH, is that they all apparently include the phrase "THE PRESIDENT OF THE/UNITED STATES/TO.  The Marine Corps is the only service branch to ever include this information in its MoH engraving format.  As I noted in my earlier post on USMC Korean War MoH engravings formats, this phrase was also used then, but  "IN THE NAME OF THE CONGRESS" was added, in all but one sample.

 

On Gurke's medal, the word DECEASED is added to the line below USMC.  I am going to assume that this notation was used on other WWII USMC posthumous awards.

 

On the line below USMC (or DECEASED) these pieces all contain the following (or some slight modification):

 

                                                                               FOR HEROISM ABOVE AND BEYOND

                                                                                    THE CALL OF DUTY AGAINST

                                                                                ENEMY JAPANESE FORCES ON (AT)

                                                                                                  (LOCATION)

                                                                                                         (DATE)

 

This phraseology is found on Gurke's piece.  The inscription on Lucas's, DeBlanc's, and McCarthy's medals substitutes "GALLANTRY" for "HEROISM."    Walsh's inscription reads "FOR EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM/AND INTREPIDITY/ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL/OF DUTY AGAINST ENEMY/...".  The photo of Foss's engraving is of such poor quality I cannot be sure what phrase is used.

 

Here's Gurke's medal:

 

Henry Gurke, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

The tag on the lower arm is apparently an inventory number from the museum that holds this piece.

 

I do not have the date of presentation for this award.  Gurke was KIA in November 1943, so I presume a presentation ceremony was held in 1944, possibly as late as 1945.  If anyone has this information please consider posting it.

 

This is ace Ken Walsh's MoH engraving:

 

Kenneth Walsh, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

Walsh was presented his medal at the White House by FDR on February 8, 1944.

 

I would like to post Foss's engraving but the photo is just so bad its barely decipherable.

 

 

                                                                                     



#2 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:10 PM

Lucas and McCarthy, both Iwo Jima veterans, received their medals from President Truman at the White House on October 5, 1945.

 

Jacklyn Lucas, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

 

 

 



#3 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:13 PM

McCarthy's:

 

Joseph McCarthy, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

McCarthy's is the only WWII USMC piece I have seen that includes these engraving flourishes.

 

 

 

 



#4 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:16 PM

Marine aviator Jefferson DeBlanc's medal was presented to him at the White House on December 6, 1946, by President Truman:

 

Jefferson DeBlanc, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

My mistake from the previous post regarding engraving flourishes on McCarthy's medal.  Obviously, DeBlanc's has the same flourishes in the same locations. 

 

 

 

 



#5 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:20 PM

As we all know, fake engravings on all medals show up routinely.  Here's one on to a USMC WWII posthumous MoH recipient:

 

George Phillips, USMC WWII Engr (Fake) Small Final.jpg

 

The problems with this are obvious:  The use of THE CONGRESS/TO, the P.V.T. rank abbreviation, the script font, and U.S.M.C.R.  This photo has been published before.  I do not know its history or where it is today.

 

 



#6 FFZFlyer

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 02:50 PM

A number of Marine MoH recipients from WWII received their medals overseas.  Among them was ace James Swett, as nice a guy as one could ever have hoped to meet:

 

James Swett, USMC WWII Engr Small Final Blurred SSN.jpg

 

Swett was presented his medal during ceremonies held on Espirito Santo Island on October 12, 1943.  As was the custom with all overseas presentations his piece was unengraved at that time.  Back in the states he had his name and the date of his action engraved on the medal's reverse.  Some years later he "hand engraved" his social security number on the back of the medal.  Probably with one of those electric hand engravers.

 

As was noted in a previous post on this forum, early WWII USMC MoH recipients Paige, Basilone, and Edson all received their awards in overseas ceremonies.  Thus, their medals were unengraved.  Photos of Edson's privately done engraving were posted at that time.  I found a replacement medal of Paige's with late 1980's format engraving in a private museum in Pennsylvania.  Basilone's medal has what I believe to be an official engraving format, although It differs slightly from the format identified here.  However, exactly how this medal came to be engraved remains a mystery.  Suggestions include that Basilone himself returned his medal to HQ USMC for engraving when he rotated back to the States.  Another suggestion is that Basilone's original medal was lost upon his death and the piece photographed was a replacement for his widow.  We will probably never know the truth.

 

General Vandegrift's medal was the first to be presented to a WWII living Marine.  FDR made the presentation at the White House.  I have located the descendant who possesses all of Vandegrift's medals, including the MoH.  Unfortunately, they are mounted in a display case that was given to the general upon his retirement as commandant of the marine corps.  Fortunately, the descendant has wanted to remount the pieces as the background, etc., have faded and deteriorated over the years.  When that happens, which I hope will be this year still, I was promised a photograph of the MoH engraving will be taken and sent to me.  When I get it, I will post it here and everyone can see the engraving format on that piece.

 

As always, if anyone can add any other USMC WWII MoH engraving format information/photos to this post, it will greatly add to our body of knowledge and enhance our information on this topic.

 

I hope you enjoyed these posts.



#7 salfred

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Posted 29 September 2016 - 09:08 PM

Outstanding!!! I have really enjoyed your posts on the Medal of Honor engravings. Thank you for sharing your collection of photo's



#8 FFZFlyer

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Posted 02 October 2016 - 11:13 AM

Outstanding!!! I have really enjoyed your posts on the Medal of Honor engravings. Thank you for sharing your collection of photo's

 

Thanks so much for the positive comment.  Glad someone found this topic of interest.



#9 katieony

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 03:21 AM

A really great reference for WWII USMC MOH engraving!  Thank you for posting this information and images!



#10 KurtA

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 03:37 AM

 

Thanks so much for the positive comment.  Glad someone found this topic of interest.

 

I certainly did.  Thank you.



#11 FFZFlyer

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 11:14 AM

Thanks for the comments. I am grateful that there are others who appreciate this topic.

#12 FFZFlyer

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 01:08 PM

The first Marine to earn and receive a MoH for World War II service was 1LT George H. Cannon.  Assigned to the 6th Marine Defense Battalion, Cannon was a machine gun platoon leader stationed at Sand Island, Midway Islands, on December 7, 1941.  Late on that day two Japanese destroyers attacked Midway, showering the island with high explosive shells.  One of those shells ripped through a ventilation opening on the roof of the above ground concrete bunker where Cannon was stationed in the battalion communications room.  Severely wounded by the blast, but undaunted, he refused evacuation and directed treatment of the other wounded and oversaw the repair of the radios.  Steadfast in the performance of his duties, he remained at his post until all the other casualties were treated and the radios returned to service.  Before he could be evacuated, he succumbed to his injuries.  He was ultimately interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, HI.

 

Cannon’s posthumous MoH was presented to his mother sometime in the spring of 1942; exactly when, where, and by whom, is not known to surviving family members.  What is known is that Mrs. Cannon donated that MoH to George’s alma mater, Culver Military Academy, Culver, Indiana, on July 4, 1942.

 

George H Cannon, orig medal in frame engraving small final.jpg

 

Note that this engraving is not consistent with other WWII Marine Corps MoH engravings shown in this thread.  It more closely matches the Navy’s Format #1, as defined in my post on Navy WWII MoH engravings.  In fact, I strongly suspect that whomever engraved the medals for Pearl Harbor recipients Ross, Flaherty, and Tomich, also did Cannon’s.   Since I was cataloging engraving formats for each service branch separately, I will refer to the format used on Cannon’s piece as Format #2 for the Marine Corps in WWII, even though it’s the same as the Navy’s WWII Format #1.  The little white spots are lint speaks.

 

This medal remained on display at Culver until sometime in the early 1960s when the family requested the original medal be returned to them.  A duplicate medal, with engraving nearly identical to the original, was obtained from the Marine Corps and put on display at Culver. 

 

George H Cannon Engr Final.jpg

 

The major difference in the engraving from the original is the font size.  I’ve never before seen a Marine Corps replacement MoH that contained the exact format of engraving as the original.  In fact, the two Marine Corps replacement MoHs I have seen, Paige’s and Pless’s, both are engraved with DUPLICATE.  I’m not sure when Paige’s duplicate was issued, but Pless’s was in the late 1960s.  I’m guessing a record of Cannon’s original engraving must have been retained somewhere, perhaps in his file, and was dug out to engrave the duplicate given to Culver.  It is also interesting to note that the original medal, now nicely framed by the family, is suspended from the 1960’s style octagonal cravat pad, while the “replacement” held by Culver is suspended from the rectangular pad used from WWII through the early days of the Vietnam War.  No one knows how a larger pad ribbon ended up on the original MoH.

 

On Memorial Day, 2000, Cannon’s sister, Margaret Schlender, re-donated the original MoH to Culver.  In 2017 surviving family members again requested that this medal be returned to them.  Culver honored their request.  The following year, the 1960s-era duplicate MoH, which had not been seen since 2000, was “discovered” in storage and returned to the school’s display case.

 

Cannon was awarded a posthumous Purple Heart sometime in 1943.  No one in the family knows for sure, but there is no evidence to indicate any type of presentation ceremony was held.  More than likely, given the wartime limitations, the medal was mailed to the family.

 

George Cannon PH Engraving.JPG

 

George H. Cannnon was born in Webster Grove, MO, but moved with his family to the Detroit, MI area after his father passed away when Cannon was a youngster.  After attending Culver with the class of 1935, Cannon entered the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1939.  He then entered the Marine Corps.  The 6th Defense Battalion was his first assignment after OCS.

 



#13 Blacksmith

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 01:41 PM

Thank you for posting and updating this topic. Very interesting.

#14 KASTAUFFER

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Posted 04 October 2018 - 01:51 PM

Lucas and McCarthy, both Iwo Jima veterans, received their medals from President Truman at the White House on October 5, 1945.

 

attachicon.gifJacklyn Lucas, USMC WWII Engr Small Final.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe Lucas's original MOH was destroyed in a fire and this is his re-issued medal.

 

Kurt



#15 katieony

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Posted 05 October 2018 - 03:36 AM

Really interesting update!



#16 salfred

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Posted 11 October 2018 - 02:24 PM

The WWII USMC Medal of Honor reverse engraving are some of my favourites. Thanks for sharing 



#17 skowheganme

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Posted 12 October 2018 - 06:02 AM

An excellent study of a relatively arcane subject, yet extremely interesting.  I have held the Medals of Honor of three WWII Marine Corps recipients: Art Jackson, Woody Williams  and a great friend who lived here in Maine, Everett Pope.  Being so excited about the experiences, I never really noticed the detail of the engraving but remember the similarity of all three.  Your sharing the engraving of these specimens is simply outstanding.  Another related study would be the cases or boxes these decorations were housed.  I did study the one of Pope's and was interested to note it is nothing like I expected since it was not of the blue leatherette variety with the gold embossed title: MEDAL OF HONOR.  I'm certain of that style of case for the Army WWII, since I have held the one of another Maine hero: Ed Dalhgren who fought with the 36th Infantry Division in Italy.  Pope's Medal of Honor came in a Tiffany-marked box shaped like an oval or football with a dark blue exterior, with no title, and a white silk lining.  Everett assured me that this case was the one awarded to him during the Medal of Honor ceremony: 5 October 1945.  Incidentally, when awarding the decoration, President Truman had some trouble pronouncing the name ( Peleliu ) of the Pacific, island battle in which Capt. Pope fought so bravely.  Once again, thanks so much !  Dave of Skowhegan, Maine



#18 FFZFlyer

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Posted 15 October 2018 - 02:31 PM

Thanks to the four who posted positive comments about the Canon write-up.  I went through a considerable amount of effort to track down the medal and family members and it is worthwhile to know that some appreciate that effort.  I truly appreciate your thoughts.




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