More than twenty years elapsed from the time that American Soldiers began serving as an occupation force in Germany following the end of World War I and the establishment of the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal by an Act of Congress on November 21, 1941.

The United States Third Army received orders to advance into Germany on November 15, 1918 to serve as an occupying force, disarming and disbanding any German troops it encountered. By mid-December, it had reached its destination at Koblenz; it had faced no opposition during its advance and would continue to be welcomed by the German citizenry for the duration of is service. This amicability stood in stark contrast to the reception received by French soldiers, who had suffered four years of warfare in their own country and felt little or no compassion for the German civilian population.

By April, 1919, the situation in the areas occupied by Third Army was well-ordered and peaceful, and divisions began to be shipped stateside. On July 2, 1919, Third Army was disbanded as an operational unit; its headquarters and personnel remained in Germany as the American Forces in Germany for three more years. During that time, the United States signed its own peace treaty with Germany, having rejected the harsh reparations and other vindictive clauses of the Versailles Treaty.

The Army of Occupation of German – World War I Medal features on its obverse a profile image of General John J. Pershing, the four-star General who commanded the American Expeditionary Force and was eventually named “General of the Armies,” a designation that was held by just one other General in U.S. military history: George Washington. Also on the obverse are the start and end dates of the occupation, 1918 and 1923, and four stars indicating Pershing’s rank. On the reverse is an eagle perched on Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, which served as the Headquarters for U.S. occupation forces.

Authorized for acceptance and wear by members of all branches of the U.S. Military, the Army of Occupation of Germany Medal was awarded for military service with U.S. occupation forces in Germany, Austria, or Hungary between the dates of 12 November 1918 and 11 July 1923. Any members of the Navy or Marine Corps that were attached or assigned to U.S. Army units in those countries were also eligible.

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