Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Sea Service Medals – Military Awards and Decorations of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard
By Fred L Borch and Charles P McDowell
ISBN 9781591140894
Naval Institute Press ( )

There is a long and fascinating history of military awards and decorations to members of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard (collectively known as the US Sea Services). The granting of medals started in the nineteenth century when the Medal of Honor was established. This award could be issued to enlisted men (originally officers were not entitled) and during the twentieth century the array of medals that could be awarded to both officers and ratings was significantly expanded.

The book is divided into four main chapters with a few Appendices / Notes. The chapters are split on the basis of Decorations of Valor in Combat, Non-Combat Valor, Dual Purpose Decorations for Performance or Valor, and Awards and Decorations for Outstanding Achievement or Meritorious Service.

These awards are for heroism, achievement and service. The book is a comprehensive review of these medals and their history, serving as a valuable guide to the rich traditions of these forces. There is information on the background and development of each award and some of this information has not been widely disseminated until now. There are details of the design of the awards and their award criteria.

The decorations examined include some famous and some not so famous awards. Those for combat heroism include the Navy Medal of Honor, the Navy Cross and the Silver Star. For non-combat heroism there is, for example, the Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Coast Guard Medal. All the medals and decorations for achievement are detailed and these range from the Navy and Coast Guard Distinguished Service Medals, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal to the Navy etc.

In summary, this publication is an outstanding volume on the awards of medals to the US Sea Services. The authors have conducted first rate research and the presentation of the book is excellent. For collectors of US medals this work will become a “must have” reference book.

December 2010