The Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal was commemorative by nature although was approved for wear on active military uniforms. A similar medal, the Army of Cuban Occupation Medal was created for occupation service in Cuba following the Spanish–American War.
The medal recognized those service members who had performed military occupation duty in Puerto Rico after the close of the Spanish–American War. For those service members who performed duty both during and subsequent to the Spanish–American War, the Spanish Campaign Medal was also authorized. The qualifying dates for the Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal were from 14 August through 10 December 1898. The United States Navy and Marine Corps had no equivalent to the Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal.
The Army of Puerto Rican Occupation Medal is bronze 1 1/4 inches wide. It has an oxidized matte finish in relief. The obverse of the medal bears a castle in the center with two small round towers at the corners. At the top around the outside of the medal is the inscription ARMY OF OCCUPATION OF PUERTO RICO. The date 1898 appears at the bottom. On the left side of the date is a branch of a tobacco plant on the other side is a stalk of sugar cane. The reverse depicts a spread eagle on a trophy consisting of a cannon, six rifles, four standards, an Indian shield, quiver of arrows with three spears, a Cuban machete, and Sulu kris. Below the trophy are the words FOR SERVICE. The reverse is circumscribed by the words UNITED STATES ARMY at the upper half and thirteen five-pointed stars in the lower half. The ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide in ultramarine blue. At the edges are stripes of old glory red 1/16 inches wide. In the center is a 3/8 inch stripe of old glory red bordered on both sides by 1/16 inch golden yellow stripes.