The Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, was established by Act of Congress (Public Resolution Number 18 of the 56th Congress) on March 3, 1901.
The Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, had effect from May 1 through 16 August, 1898.
The Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, commemorates certain acts performed during the Spanish-American War; more specifically, it was awarded to members of the Navy and Marine Corps who rendered heroic and conspicuous service, other than in battle. Most were awarded for the rescue of Spanish sailors "from and in close proximity to burning ships after the battle off Santiago, Cuba, July 3rd, 1898."
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
The Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, is not listed in the Navy's official order of precedence; however, since it is in the same family as the other decorations for non-combat service it would probably take precedence after the Distinguished Flying Cross and before the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.
No devices were authorized for this medal.
The designer of the Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, is unknown.
The first person to receive the Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, is unknown.
DESCRIPTION AND SYMBOLISM
In the center of a dark bronze cross pattée one and three-sixteenths inches wide, a medallion seven-eighths of an inch in diameter. The outer eighth-inch of the medallion, which is raised and forms a circle around the medallion, contains the raised inscription, U.S. NAVAL CAMPAIGN WEST INDIES. A small five-pointed star appears at the base between the words U.S. and INDIES, and an identical star appears between the words CAMPAIGN and WEST. The other words are separated by a bullet. In the center of the medallion there is a fouled anchor canted to the right and surrounded by a wreath of oak bearing nine acorns (to the right) and laurel (to the left). The wreath is tied at the bottom by a bow. The arms of the cross bear the following words: left arm, SPECIALLY; upper arm, MERITORIOUS; right arm, SERVICE; and lower arm, .1898. The edge of each arm is raised and contains a decorative border on the inside.
The anchor denotes naval service, and the wreath represents strength (oak) and victory (laurel). The inscription denotes the purpose of the medal. The small five pointed star represents military service.
The reverse is blank and was used to inscribe the recipient's name along with a brief citation.
The ribbon to the Specially Meritorious Service Medal, 1898, is dark red and stands for sacrifice.