The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal was established as a ribbon only on May 8, 1919, by Marine Corps General Orders No. 33. A medal was authorized by Executive Order 3524 signed by President Warren G. Harding on July 28, 1921 (and implemented on March 1, 1929, by Marine Corps General Orders Number 20).


The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal has been awarded for qualifying service from February 12, 1874, to the present. The earliest qualifying service was in the Hawaiian Islands from February 12 to 20, 1874.


The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is awarded to Marine Corps personnel who land on foreign territory, engage in operations against armed opposition, or who operate under circumstances deemed to merit special recognition and for which no campaign medal has been awarded.


The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal is worn after the Selected Marine Corps Reserve Medal and before the Navy Occupation Service Medal.

  • A bar with the words WAKE ISLAND is authorized for wear on the medal for personnel who served in the defense of Wake Island between and December 7 and 22, 1941.

  • A silver W is worn on the service ribbon to denote the Individual is entitled to the WAKE ISLAND bar.

  • On March 1, 1920, bronze numerals were authorized to denote additional awards of the USMC Expeditionary Medal (subsequently replaced by bronze stars).

  • A bronze star three-sixteenths of an inch in diameter is authorized for each subsequent entitlement to the medal.

Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal M.No.1 was awarded to Quartermaster Sergeant Roy L. Kinna for service in Cuba between May and August of 1912.


The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal was designed by Walker Hancock, and its ribbon was designed earlier by Major S.W. Bogan, USMC.


In the center of a bronze medallion one and a quarter inches in diameter, a Marine in full pack is shown charging with fixed bayonet. There are wave scrolls at the base where they meet at firmament. In the upper half of the medal, following its contour, the word EXPEDITIONS in raised letters.

The figure is that of an enlisted Marine "in action, responding to the call of duty." The scroll waves ending at firmament allude to Marine service and signify an opposed landing.


In the center of a bronze medallion, an eagle is shown alight upon an anchor; the eagle is facing to the left, and the flukes of the anchor are to the right side of the medallion. The eagle is grasping sprigs of laurel, which extend beyond the anchor in both directions. Above the eagle are the words UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. Above the laurel on the left is the word FOR, and over the laurel on the right, SERVICE.

The eagle is the American bald eagle and represents the United States; the anchor alludes to naval service. The laurel is symbolic of victory and achievement.


The ribbon to the Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal consists of a khaki background with a broad light gold stripe inside each edge.


The Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal was originally produced at the Philadelphia Mint and was serially numbered on the rim at the six o'clock position with the M.No. prefix.

AUTHORIZED EXPEDITIONS: Click here for a listing of qualifying expeditions

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