The U.S. Mint in 2018 will release silver medals to augment silver dollars commemorating the centennial of America’s involvement in World War I. The medals will honor the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. One of them will celebrate the U.S. Marines.
Marines Medal Recommendations
For the Marines Silver Medal, the U.S. Mint presented 14 designs for consideration — 8 obverses and 6 reverses. The CFA and CCAC preferred different obverses but both bodies recommended the same reverse design.
For the obverse, the CFA selected MRC-O-01, which depicts the beginning of the iconic Battle of Belleau Wood. The design shows two Marines of the 4th Brigade moving unprotected through open wheat fields to attack German defensive positions in the woods. In recommended changes, the CFA suggested more "careful modeling to better illustrate the distinctive heads of the wheat."
The CCAC’s obverse preference was actually submitted for consideration as a reverse (MRC-R-01). It shows the aftermath of the three-month Battle of Belleau Wood with one marine standing guard as another other kneels to pay respect and honor the fallen.
The CFA’s and CCAC’s recommended reverse, MRC-R-06, features the Marines’ eagle, globe, and anchor emblem without extraneous elements.
For their selected designs, the CCAC suggested moving much of the medal’s text from the obverse to the reverse. As for the CFA, they recommended rebalancing the text by moving the obverse text of "2018 – Centennial of World War I" to the reverse and, in its place on the obverse, adding the text "Battle of Belleau Wood."
Marines Medal Design Candidates
The eight Marines medal obverse candidates and U.S. Mint descriptions of them follow.
MRC-O-01 depicts the beginning of the iconic Battle of Belleau Wood – as two Marines of the 4th Brigade move unprotected through open wheat fields to attack German defensive positions in the woods.
MRC-O-02 features three Marines crossing a field of wheat at the beginning of the fight at Belleau Wood.
MRC-O-03 shows the bravery and unwavering determination Marines exhibited in taking over the wheat field to advance to the forest at the Battle of Belleau Wood.
MRC-O-04 portrays a trio of Marines advancing on the enemy, surrounded by the "fog of war."
MRC-O-05, MRC-O-05A, and MRC-O-05B portray the literal and symbolic "first steps" of U.S. Marines onto the battlefields of WWI. They charge into wheat field after summoning the courage to step out into open ground and advance directly into machine gun fire. Version 05a features two additional Marines entering the battle, while version 05B includes an American flag.
MRC-O-06 depicts a helmet set behind the Marine Corps emblem.
The six Marines medal reverse candidates and U.S. Mint descriptions of them follow.
MRC-R-01 shows the aftermath of the three-month battle, and continues the story from MRC-O-01. One Marine stands guard as the other kneels to pay respect and honor to the fallen. The story closes quoting a report to the American Expeditionary Forces: "WOODS NOW U.S. MARINE CORPS ENTIRELY." An Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and the additional inscription "BATTLE OF BELLEAU WOOD" complete the design.
MRC-R-02 portrays a Marine standing in the devastated woods at the end of the battle, continuing the story that began with MRC-O-2. The change from three soldiers on the obverse to only one on the reverse symbolizes the tremendous sacrifices made by these brave Marines. Included inscriptions are "FIRST TO FIGHT," "SEMPER FIDELIS," and "WOODS NOW U.S. MARINE CORPS ENTIRELY."
MRC-R-03 shows a marine charging into Belleau Wood, readying himself to fight hand to hand with an unseen enemy. Small blades of wheat in the foreground represent the earlier advance through the wheat field. The inscription "BATTLE OF BELLEAU WOOD" is at the bottom of the design.
MRC-R-04 depicts the World War I era Eagle, Globe, and Anchor superimposed over a compass.
MRC-R-05 depicts the end of the battle in the woods, continuing the story in MRC-O5. After running out of ammunition, the Marine over-powers a German machine gun nest with sheer ferocity and relentless courage. The additional inscription "SEMPER FIDELIS" is across the bottom border.
MRC-R-06 features the World War I era version of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor.
2018 World War I Armed Forces Silver Medals
Artists for the U.S. Mint created over 60 design candidates for the five 2018 World War I Armed Forces Silver Medals. The other medals will honor the Army (see Army medal designs), Navy (see Navy medal designs), Air Service (see Air Service medal designs) and Coast Guard (see Coast Guard medal designs).
There is a chance for one more medal as the CCAC asked for a sixth to celebrate women whom served during the war.