Marine Corps Brevet Medal

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Marine Corps Brevet Medal
A bronze cross pattée, with the center of each arm extended in a semi-circular shape; in the center of the front is the word BREVET, encircled by the words UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS. A small five-pointed star, point-up, is at the bottom center of the circle formed by the inscription. A small Marine Corps insignia (eagle, globe and anchor) attaches the medal to its suspension ring.
The Marine Corps Brevet Medal
Awarded by Department of the Navy
Type Military decoration
Eligibility Living Marine Corps officers who received brevet promotions
Awarded for Extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force
Status Obsolete
Statistics
Established 1921
First awarded Retroactively for actions in 1863
Last awarded Retroactively for actions in 1900
Total awarded 23 approved
20 awarded (3 approved recipients died before award)
Precedence
Next (higher) Medal of Honor[1]
Next (lower) Navy Cross
A scarlet ribbon with 7 white 5 pointed stars
Marine Corps Brevet Medal Ribbon

The Marine Corps Brevet Medal, also known as the Brevet Medal, was a military decoration of the United States Marine Corps; it was created in 1921 as a result of Marine Corps Order Number 26. The decoration was a one-time issuance and retroactively recognized living Marine Corps officers who had received a brevet rank. The similar practice of frocking continues in all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Brevet promotions were used by the United States military in some capacity from 1775 until they were discontinued in 1900. The Army was the only branch authorized to grant brevets until 1814, when the Marine Corps was granted the same privilege. For the 86 years, the Marine Corps awarded 121 brevet promotions to 100 Marine Corps officers. Captain Anthony Gale was the first to receive a brevet promotion in 1814 and John Twiggs Myers, who died in 1952, was the last surviving recipient.

In 1921 Commandant John A. Lejeune requested that a Marine Corps Brevet Medal be authorized; after it was approved and created, the decoration was given to the last 20 living Marine Corps officers who received brevet promotions.

Brevet promotions[edit]

A brevet promotion or brevet is the advancement in rank without the advancement in either pay grade or position. Typically, a brevetted officer would be given the insignia of the brevetted rank, but not the pay or formal authority. Brevet promotions were originally authorized for the United States Army in 1775 by the Second Continental Congress. In 1778 a resolution was passed stating brevets would only be authorized "..to officers in the line or in case of very eminent services...".[2]

The Marine Corps would not receive the authorization from Congress for brevet promotions until 1814 stating "... That the President is hereby authorized to confer brevet rank on such officers of the Marine Corps as shall distinguish themselves by gallant actions and meritorious conduct or shall have served ten years in any one grade...".[2]

In 1814 Anthony Gale became the first Marine to receive a brevet promotion when he was brevetted to Major, having been a Captain for ten years. By the time the practice of brevet promotions was discontinued in 1900, 121 brevet promotions were bestowed on 100 Marine Corps officers.[2]

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, brevet promotions were common in the United States armed forces. New officers received brevet rank until authorized positions were made available, or they could be brevetted to fill higher positions for gallantry. During the American Civil War, most senior officers received a brevet promotion, particularly during the final months of the war.[3]

Due to the establishment of the Medal of Honor and the change in rules allowing both officers and enlisted to receive it, the need for brevet promotions diminished. During the American Civil War, the Army used the issuing of brevet promotions to such a degree that Congress passed an act in 1869 that restricted the issuance of brevet promotions. The act established three requirements for awarding a brevet: "they could only be awarded in time of war and then only for distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy, and it also removed all privileges of command based upon brevet rank except as directed by the President."[2][4]

In 1870 Congress passed a law stating that no officer could wear, nor be addressed by, their brevet rank making brevet promotions an honorary decoration only.[2] Because of this new law the last nine brevet promotions awarded by the Marine Corps occurred during the Boxer Rebellion. On June 7, 1921, the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby approved then-Commandant John A. Lejeune's request for a medal denoting the holder of a brevet promotion to be issued. Marine Corps Order #26 was issued on June 27, 1921, authorizing the medal to be ordered and by November 10, 1921 the medals had been created.[2][4] This decoration was justified on the grounds that, until 1915, Marine Corps officers were not eligible for the Medal of Honor.[4]

In 1940, because only one of the recipients was still alive (Smedley Butler had died in late June of that year), the Marine Corps declared the Brevet Medal obsolete. The lone survivor, Major General John Twiggs Myers, had been brevetted for valor at the siege of the U.S. embassy at Peking (the Battle of Peking), in 1900. He died in 1952 in Coconut Grove, Florida, and the medal was never issued again. The concept of brevet commissions was phased out of the United States military, and was replaced by temporary and field promotions, which were awarded more frequently than brevet ranks.[4]

Award of the medal was approved for twenty-three men, three of whom died before they could receive this award. Of the twenty recipients, three were holders of both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor.[4]

Description and symbolism[edit]

The Marine Corps Brevet Medal was considered to be the equivalent of the Navy Cross, although in precedence it ranks just behind the Medal of Honor. Recipients of the medal had received field commissions as Marine Corps officers, under combat conditions, and had performed feats of distinction and gallant service. Initially, the Brevet Medal ranked behind the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and was issued to 23 active, retired, and discharged Marine Corps personnel.[4]

The medal was designed by Sergeant Joseph Alfred Burnett and contained a ribbon, in USMC scarlet, closely resembling the blue-and-white starred pattern of the Medal of Honor. No attached devices for the Brevet Medal were authorized.[4]

Front of medal[edit]

The medal consists of a bronze cross pattée, with the center of each arm extended in a semi-circular shape and in the center of the front is the word "BREVET", encircled by the words "UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS". A small five-pointed star, point-up, is at the bottom center of the circle formed by the inscription and a small Marine Corps insignia (eagle, globe and anchor) attaches the medal to its suspension ring.[4]

Back of medal[edit]

The back of the medal is plain except for its center, which contains the inscription "FOR DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT" in a circle, and the words "IN PRESENCE OF ENEMY" in the center. The original medals were neither named nor numbered.[4]

Recipients[edit]

Image Name Rank brevetted to Date of action Place of action Notes[4][5]
Bannon, Philip M.Philip M. Bannon O-02First Lieutenant June 13, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct during the Spanish–American War"
An image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat on. Military style ribbons are clearly visible. Butler, Smedley D.Smedley D. Butler O-03Captain July 13, 1900 Tientsin, China "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy July 13, 1900, during the Boxer Rebellion". One of three to receive both the Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor. One of nineteen to receive the Medal of Honor twice.
Gamborg-Andresen, CarlCarl Gamborg-Andresen O-03Captain July 13, 1900 Tientsin, China "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Boxer Rebellion"
Hall, Newt H.Newt H. Hall O-04Major August 14, 1900 Peking, China "For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy during the Boxer Rebellion"
Kelton, Allan C.Allan C. Kelton O-04Major July 3, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
Long, Charles G.Charles G. Long O-03Captain June 11, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
Lucas, Lewis C.Lewis C. Lucas O-03Captain June 13, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For conspicuous conduct in battle during the Spanish–American War"
An image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat on. Military style ribbons are clearly visible. Mahoney, James E.James E. Mahoney O-03Captain June 11, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
An image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat on. Military style medals are clearly visible. McCawley, Charles L.Charles L. McCawley O-04Major June 11, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
McKelvy Sr., William N.William N. McKelvy Sr. O-03Captain June 11, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
Paul St. Clair Murphy Clair Murphy, Paul St.Paul St. Clair Murphy O-04Major July 3, 1898 Santiago, Cuba "For gallant service in the naval battle of Santiago, Cuba during the Spanish–American War"
an image of a white male in his military uniform with a hat on and a mustache. Military style ribbons are clearly visible. Myers, John TwiggsJohn Twiggs Myers O-04Major July 20, 1900 Peking, China "For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy at the defense of the legations during the Boxer Rebellion"
an image of a white male in his military uniform with a hat on. Military style ribbons are clearly visible. Neville, Wendell C.Wendell C. Neville O-03Captain June 13, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For conspicuous conduct in battle during the Spanish–American War". One of three to receive both the Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor.
an image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat. Pope, Percival C.Percival C. Pope O-03Captain September 8, 1863 Fort Sumter "For gallant and meritorious service in the night attack upon Ft. Sumter during the Civil War"
an image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat. Military style ribbons are clearly visible. Porter, David D.David D. Porter O-03Captain October 8, 1899 Novaleta, Philippine Islands "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Philippine Insurrection". One of three to both receive the Brevet Medal and the Medal of Honor.
Powell, William G.William G. Powell O-03Captain June 21, 1900 Tientsin, China "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Boxer Rebellion"
Richards, GeorgeGeorge Richards O-05Lieutenant Colonel July 13, 1900 Tientsin, China "For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy during the Boxer Rebellion"
Shaw, Melville J.Melville J. Shaw O-02First Lieutenant June 11, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Spanish–American War"
Thorpe, George C.George C. Thorpe O-03Captain October 8, 1899 Novaleta, Philippine Islands "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Philippine Insurrection"
an image of a white male in his military uniform with no hat on and a mustache. Military style medals are clearly visible. Waller, Littleton W.T.Littleton W.T. Waller O-05Lieutenant Colonel July 13, 1900 Tientsin, China "For distinguished conduct and public service in the presence of the enemy during the Boxer Rebellion" He is the only Marine to have been awarded both the Brevet Medal and the Navy Specially Meritorious Service Medal.
Approved recipients who died before award of the medal
Image Name Rank brevetted to Date of action Place of action Notes[4][5]
James Forney Forney, JamesJames Forney O-03Captain
O-04Major
O-05Lieutenant Colonel
April 24, 1862
July 1864
March 15, 1870
Forts Jackson and St. Philip
Gunpowder Bridge
Formosa
"For gallant and meritorious services at the attack upon Forts Jackson and St. Philip"
"For meritorious services in defeating a rebel raid at Gunpowder Bridge"
"For gallant and meritorious services in the action with the savages at Formosa"
Magill, Louis J.Louis J. Magill O-02First Lieutenant
O-03Captain
June 13, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba "For good judgment and gallantry in battle at Guantanamo, Cuba"
McLemore, Albert S.Albert S. McLemore O-03Captain November 6, 1898 Guantánamo Bay, Cuba for Distinguished Conduct

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ Foster, Frank C.; Borts, Lawrence H. (2011). Military medals of the United States (8th ed. ed.). Fountain Inn, SC: MOA Press (Medals of America Press). p. 59. ISBN 9781884452284. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Col. John H. Magruder III (Spring 1998). "The Brevet in the Marine Corps". Marine Corps Gazette (Marine Corps Association). XXXIX (11). 
  3. ^ "The Marine Corps Brevet Medal". Marine Corps Legacy Museum. Retrieved July 23, 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k John E. Lelle SgtMaj. USMC (Ret) (1988). The Brevet Medal. Quest Publishing Co. ISBN 0-915779-02-1. 
  5. ^ a b Sterner, C. Douglas. "U.S. Marine Corps Recipients of the Brevet Medal" (MS Word). Home of Heroes. Retrieved July 22, 2009. 

External links[edit]