U.S. Mint Medals Honoring Military

by Mike Unser on May 27, 2016 · 10 comments

In addition to U.S. coinage, the United States Mint strikes Congressional Gold Medals, military medals, Presidential medals, First Spouse medals and others that commemorate major historical events and sites.

American Fighter Aces, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, and Borinqueneers 3.0-Inch Bronze Medals

A tiny sampling of the military medals made by the United States Mint

My interest in medals was kindled after seeing some very old ones when visiting the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. That’s where they’re all made.

Thomas Jefferson Indian Peace Medal Dies

These are the original, hand-cut medal dies which were used to strike the large Jefferson Indian Peace Medals which were taken by Lewis and Clark on their 1804 expedition from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Before lathes and engraving machines, all dies were hand cut by engravers. These original dies were secured in the Philadelphia Mint’s vault for over 200 years.

Memorial Day got me thinking about some of the military medals I’ve acquired in the last few months. The three newest are duplicates of Congressional Gold Medals recently awarded to American Fighter Aces, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders and the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers.

After striking Congressional Gold Medals, the U.S. Mint is charged by law with making and selling bronze replicas for collectors. They’re available in 3-inch and 1.5-inch formats. If you’ve never held one of the Mint’s larger medals in your hand, I’d recommend trying to find the opportunity. They do cost more than the smaller versions ($39.95 vs. $6.95) but their higher relief and stronger detail make them much more appealing.

I’ve included some photos of the mentioned military medals to give you an idea of their quality.

Photos of American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal

American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal

American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse


American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Obverse

The obverse of the American Fighter Aces medal features four pilots, representing World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; an ace of spades; and military wings with a globe centered, symbolizing the global impact of the group’s service

American Fighter Aces 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Reverse

The reverse of the American Fighter Aces medal features four aircraft used by American Fighter Aces and includes five stars to represent the minimum number of aerial combat victories required for certification

Photos of Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse


Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Obverse

The obverse of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal features the North American B–25B Mitchell launching off the USS Hornet (CV–8), 16 stars representing the 16 flight crews that made up the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Reverse

The reverse of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal features B–25B Mitchell aircraft approaching their target with four patches representing the four squadrons (34th, 37th, 89th, and 95th) that make up the 17th Bombardment Group

Photos of 65th Infantry Regiment "Borinqueneers" 3-Inch Bronze Medal

Borinqueneers 3-Inch Bronze Medal

Borinqueneers 3-Inch Bronze Medal – Obverse and Reverse


Borinqueneers 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Obverse

The obverse of the Borinqueneers medal depicts a portrait of a fictional Borinqueneer. The soldiers in the background are in an inverted “V” formation, taking the high ground with fixed bayonets during an assault on the enemy during the Korean War.

Borinqueneers 3-Inch Bronze Medal, Reverse

The reverse of the Borinqueneers medal depicts the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro of San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is a 16th-century citadel, a central symbol of Puerto Rico and the preferred military command ceremonial parade site of the 65th Infantry Regiment.

Photos of 1.5-Inch Bronze Military Medals

Here are photos of the same medals in the 1.5-inch size.

American Fighter Aces, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, and Borinqueneers 1.5-Inch Bronze Medals

The top shows a photo of the obverse or heads side of a 1.5-inch American Fighter Aces medal, Doolittle Tokyo Raiders medal, and Borinqueneers medal. The bottom shows a photo of the reverse or tails side of the same medals.

 

If you would like to see one of the Presidential medals made by the U.S. Mint, check out these Ronald Reagan medal photos.

The Mint’s selection of medals is found here.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Williams May 27, 2016 at 5:31 pm

Mike, thank you again for the above info.

I actually own a few of the 3-inch medals and they are very impressive.

Seth Riesling May 27, 2016 at 6:22 pm

Mike Unser-

Thanks for sharing your photos. As a former member of the American Medallic Sculpture Association (AMSA), I like the large. 3-inch diameter medals, although the price of $39.95 is a bit high for an alloy of 90 percent copper & 10 percent zinc. But the variety of medals offered is nice.

To our US Armed Forces, active duty & retired (like my father USAF & NSA) I thank you for your service to the USA!

Tinto May 27, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Thanks Mike for this article. I own a few of the 3 inch medals, military and non military and they are quite beautiful but also quite expensive at $39.95 … I also own some 1.5 inch ones …. if only the Mint could make the medals in silver, even 1.5 ones .. …

Seth Riesling May 27, 2016 at 10:42 pm

Tinto –

I am with you on the wish that the Mint would make the smaller medals in silver! I would be all in support of such a program. These large bronze medals used to be priced at $29.95 for many years & I think that is a fair price.

Happy collecting everyone!

-NumisDudeTX

Richard May 27, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Very interesting, thanks. I am reminded of the John Wayne medal which two enterprising businessmen bought in large quantities, gold plated, then repackaged and sold for $10 each (this was in the late ’70s shortly after he died). They made quite a killing off it.

Christopher Williams May 28, 2016 at 7:57 am

I agree with Seth on the $29.95 price for the large medals. I might have purchased more if the price was more reasonable.

Seth Riesling May 28, 2016 at 6:22 pm

The 1.5-inch small bronze US Mint medals used to be $2.95 each until the 1990s when they increased slightly to $3.95 & then around about 10 years ago increased to $6.95. Still a fairly good deal if you want to build a nice topical medal collection. My two favorites are the “Lady Bird” Johnson one with a Texas bluebonnet state flower on the reverse & the Dalai Lama one with a Lotus flower on the reverse. Such a big variety available, but not like in the 70s & 80s when the printed list the Mint sent out had about 150 different “stock medals ” as they were then called as they were always in stock & very popular back in those medal-crazy times ! The Philadelphia Mint strikes all bronze medals & still has every medal master die in their die vault & can issue them in bronze at anytime without Congressional approval.

-NumisDudeTX

KC&SO May 29, 2016 at 3:19 pm

The mint should can the silver AtB P puck which is slowing breathing it’s last prolonged dying breath.., and mint silver medals in 1 and 5 oz weights, in an UNC finish and priced a tad over spot.

If we were offered silver medals like above and the Code Talkers, I’d be all over it like a duck on a junebug!

KC&SO May 29, 2016 at 3:22 pm

If you take a tour of the Philly mint, you won’t see much, though you will get to see the 3″ medals being struck and then the process of applying the matte finish, well worth the price of admission!

Seth Riesling May 29, 2016 at 4:41 pm

KC&SO –

Great idea! I would buy a silver 1 oz & 5 oz medal of each of my favorite designs like I mentioned in my above comments plus the original Navajo Code Talkers 3-inch medal from years ago I bought & forgot to mention (I really liked that movie with Nicholas Cage & Adam Beach). Many Americans didn’t even know about the Native American Indian Code Talkers until that movie came out.
With the Presidential $1 coins & First Spouse coins programs ending this year, the Mint should be thinking about new avenues to sell products like these bronze medals they have the dies for already & with precious metals like you suggested. These medals show important parts of our history just like our coins & they make a nice presentation as gifts & to display as a collection on the plastic easel the Mint provides with the large bronze medals.

-Happy collecting everyone!

-NumisDudeTX

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