Interestingly, the Philippine Liberation Medal was established on December 20, 1944, just two months after General Douglas Macarthur’s invasion forces had landed on the island of Leyte. But if the notion of awarding a medal for the liberation of nation while vast swaths of it were still under control of the Japanese military seems like hubris, the reality is that with the fall of Leyte to U.S. Army forces—organized Japanese resistance effectively came to an end on December 22—the only question regarding the Japanese occupation was not if it would end, but when.
But the inevitability of U.S. victory did nothing to reduce the determination of the island’s Japanese defenders: In the fighting on Luzon, for instance, more than 205,000 of the 275,000 Japanese died. Indeed, Japanese General Tomoyuki did not surrender his forces until September 2, 1945, eighteen days after the Japanese government announced its unconditional surrender.
While the Department of Defense authorized acceptance and wear of the Philippine Liberation Medal for Military Departments, it is not mentioned in the current version of the Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual.
The eligibility period for the Philippine Liberation Medal is October 17, 1944 to September 3, 1945. There are four types of ways that U.S. military personnel that served in the Philippines during this period can qualify for the medal. One is to have taken part in the initial landing operations on Leyte and several nearby islands between October 17 and October 20 (this is defined as having been a member of a landing force, was aboard a ship in Philippine waters, or was a crewmember of a plane that flew over Philippine territory during that time frame.) Another is to have participated in any engagement against Japanese forces at any time during the medal’s eligibility period, including on islands other than Leyte, Luzon, and Mindoro. Finally, military personnel who served either in the Philippine Islands or on board ships in Philippine water for at least 30 days also qualify for the award.
Both the Army and the Air Force have authorized the wear of a bronze service star for each instance the above conditions have been met beyond those that qualified the individual for the initial award. For members of the Coast Guard who have been awarded the medal, it ranks second in precedence for Non-U.S. Campaign and Service Awards, surpassed only by the Philippine Defense Medal.