The World War II Victory Medal is classified as a service/campaign medal, which is fourth in the order of category precedence as outlined in the Department of the Army Pamphlet 670-1, Guide to the Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms and Insignia (preceded by U.S. nonmilitary decorations and followed by U.S. Merchant Marine awards). It ranks eighth in precedence for service / campaign decorations, following the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and preceding the Army of Occupation Medal.
Interestingly, the award was established on July 6, 1945 in Public Law 135, a month before the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and nearly two months before the Japanese formally surrendered aboard the USS Missouri, which would more appropriately be considered the true date of final victory. In a move that can best be explained by its origins in a body of politicians rather than a group of military leaders, the Congressional Act establishing the “Victory” medal specified that the eligibility period for the award would be between December 7, 1941 and the official date of the termination of hostilities as determined by the President—thus a medal of Victory being announced as fighting continued apace. (Truman decreed December 31, 1946 as the official end of the state of hostilities.)
Originally established as a ribbon, the medal proper was designed by Thomas Hudson Jones of the Heraldic Branch, Office of the Quartermaster General (now The Institute of Heraldry) and approved by Secretary of War Robert B. Patterson on February 5, 1946. One of the most prolific designers of military sculptures and medals of all time, Jones’ portfolio of World War II designs includes medals for the American Campaign, Army of Occupation, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign, Korean Service, Humane Action, National Defense Service, and the Women's Army Service Corps. Hudson was also the sculptor of the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
In the Congressional authorization for the WWII Victory Medal, the award was to be issued to all members of the Armed Forces of the United States or the Government of the Philippine Islands who served on active duty during the time frame discussed above. This inclusion acknowledged the tremendous suffering endured by the Philippine people, and also honored their efforts at resistance during the Japanese occupation of their nation as well as the military contributions they made during the country’s liberation in 1944 and 1945.