A few months ago I was visiting the USS Yorktown and while walking below decks saw a medal display that  is an example of someone who went to a lot of work to do a poor job of displaying a naval hero’s medals. The display in question is of Vice Admiral R. A. Ofstie, a veteran of World War I and World War II whose final assignment was commanding the American Sixth Fleet. Admiral Ofstie was a distinguished naval commander in World War II who was awarded the Navy Cross and Silver Star for valor as well as the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

This haphazard public display of the Admiral’s medals shown above is a perfect example of why anyone displaying a veteran’s awards needs to know the order precedence of the medals and an understanding of the campaign medals that accompany military service during different conflicts. In this case someone went to a great deal of trouble to take a box of some of the admiral’s medals and carefully cut out a form for each medal in a piece of styrofoam (unfortunately a very bad material to preserve the medals). The medals are displayed in such a haphazard manner that they certainly confuses Navy veterans, family members or historians who view the display.

The admiral was awarded the Navy Cross, our country second highest award for valor, but for some reason two of the medals are displayed and inserted haphazardly in the line of other medals. In actuality the admiral was awarded the Navy Cross only once as well as a Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit as his prominent decorations. Two World War I Victory Medals are displayed as well as the Spanish Order of Military Merit and the Polish Cross of Military Merit but no campaign medals of World War II.

His naval aviator wings are displayed at the bottom of the case over a group of miniature medals which are mounted in reverse order showing the foreign decorations first. The display leaves out his World War II campaign medals in addition to the World War II Victory Medal and National Defense Service Medal. Based on his World War II service he would’ve also received the Philippine Liberation Medal. 

A correctly assembled display above shows his full military honors. This is the attention to detail we owe every American veteran.

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4 Comments
  1. While the order of precedence is indeed very wrong, I think we should be more concerned about the fact that the medals are displayed in styrofoam, which will damage the ribbons. We should all be conscientious about preserving the treasures we have been entrusted with.

  2. Yes to both. I have contacted the director of the museum.

  3. GOOD DAY –

    PLEASE SEE FOLLOWING SENTENCE WHICH NEEDS SOME PROOFING TO CORRECT WORD IN { CONFUSES } –

    The medals are displayed in such a haphazard manner that they certainly { confuses } Navy veterans,…

    KNEW YOU WOULD WISH TO ADJUST THIS IN YOUR VERY WELL PRESENTED, INFORMATIVE ARTICLE –

    MOST UNFORTUNATELY THIS SORT OF THING MAY BE FOUND IN JUST ABOUT EVERY DISPLAY WHETHER IN MUSEUMS, LEGIONS OR FAMILY HOMES –

    OVER THE LAST 60+ YEARS WE HAVE HELPED MANY TO MAKE PROPER / ACCURATE CHANGES / CORRECTIONS / ADJUSTMENTS TO A DISLAY SUCH AS THIS FOR BETTER AND MORE HISTORICAL DISPLAY AND VIEWING –

    WISHING YOU ALL THE VERY BEST, CM

  4. Is this a museum display assembled by the museum staff? Or is it an artifact displayed as it was received, by a member of the Admiral’s family, perhaps?
    If assembled by current museum staff, you are correct, they can do better.
    If it is an artifact displayed as received, it should be noted as such. The museum curator would decide how to best preserve the item from damage (e.g. the styrofoam) and how to display it. It is not unheard of for persons donating items to place stipulations on gifts, such as leaving them “as is”. The museum would have to make the choice of either honoring stipulations or not accepting the donations.
    I don’t know what brought this manner of display about. It may be ignorance or the fact that at one time it was acceptable to display in this manner.
    Either way, I wouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that it is the museum staff’s incompetence.
    I’s be interested in the Museum Director’s reply.

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