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United States Antarctic Expedition Medal

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Title: United States Antarctic Expedition Medal  
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United States Antarctic Expedition Medal

United States Antarctic Expedition Medal
Awarded by 79th United States Congress
Type Medal in Gold, Silver, and Bronze
Eligibility Members of U.S. Antarctic Expedition (1939-1941)
Awarded for Valuable services to the Nation in the field of polar exploration and science
Status Obsolete; replaced by Antarctica Service Medal
Established September 24, 1945
Next (higher) World War II Victory Medal[1]
Next (lower) Navy Occupation Service Medal[1]
Related Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal
Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition Medal
Antarctica Service Medal

Ribbon bar of the medal

The United States Antarctic Expedition Medal is a combined military-civilian award that was authorized by the United States Congress on September 24, 1945 under Public Law 185 of the 79th Congress (59 Stat. 536).[2] The award recognizes members of the United States Antarctic Expedition of 1939-1941. There were gold, silver, and bronze versions. It is unclear if the gold version is considered a Congressional Gold Medal, as was the case with the 1st Byrd expedition.[3]

The statute awarding the medal reads as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of the Navy is authorized and directed to cause to be made at the United States mint such number of gold, silver, and bronze medals of appropriate design as he may deem appropriate and necessary, to be presented to members of the United States Antarctic Expedition of 1939-1941, in recognition of their valuable services to the Nation in the field of polar exploration and science.

In 1935 Congress had passed a law allowing the Secretary of the Navy to authorize—at his discretion—the wearing of commemorative or other special awards on Navy or Marine Corps uniforms, in military sized form. (P.L. 74-43, 49 Stat. 162)

The first United States Antarctic Expedition Medal (gold version) was presented to Admiral Richard E. Byrd.

As the 1st and 2nd Byrd Expedition medals, and the United States Antarctic Expedition medal were only authorized to be awarded to a select number of people, in 1960 the Antarctica Service Medal was created, which can be awarded generally.

As recently as 1998 the Antarctic Expedition Medal still appeared in U.S. Navy uniform regulations precedence charts, after the WW II Victory Medal, and before the Navy Occupation Service Medal.[4]


  1. ^ a b "Medals and Awards Manual COMDTINST M1650.25D". Directives and Publications Division website. May 2008. pp. 22–3. Retrieved 29 September 2012. 
  2. ^ United States Antarctic Expedition Medal (1939-1941)
  3. ^ "Congressional Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medals awarded to the members of Rear Admiral Richard Byrd’s first Antarctic expedition". Retrieved 2012-09-13. 
  4. ^ Chapt. 5, Sect. 3, Article 5308INAVPERS 15665
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