KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan -- A recent Marine Administrative message (MarAdmin 295/04) listed the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) as among those units awarded the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOTEM).
In mid-March 2003, President George W. Bush signed an executive order creating the GWOTEM and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and earlier this year the Department of Defense published the exact criteria for the award.
"These medals recognize the significant contributions members of the armed forces bring to bear in combating terrorism in all forms throughout the world - - for both current and future operations," stated the DoD news release announcing the medals.
The awarding of the GWOTEM to the 22nd MEU (SOC) was specifically for its 2002 deployment during which the unit conducted security operations in Pakistan, humanitarian relief efforts in Djibouti, and several other operations in the Central Command theater, the nature of which remain classified.
Approval for the MEU's current deployment that includes extended combat service in Afghanistan remains pending until the unit leaves the area of operations.
The GWOTEM is positioned above the GWOTSM, both of which are worn before the Armed Forces Service Medal. There are currently no provisions for multiple awards of the GWOTEM.
The scarlet, white, and blue stripes on the GWOTEM's ribbon represent the United States while the gold stands for excellence and the light blue for worldwide cooperation against terrorism.
On the front of the medal's bronze-colored disc is a shield and eagle representing the United States. In the eagle's claws is a crushed serpent meant to symbolize terrorism, two crossed swords beneath the shield represent readiness, and the underlying wreath denotes honor and achievement.
The medal's reverse again features the swords, eagle, and crushed serpent, and the disc is encircled with the inscription "War On Terrorism Expeditionary Medal."
For Marines seeking information on their GWOTEM eligibility for their service with the 22nd MEU (SOC), they should review MarAdmins 129/04 and 295/04 or speak with their respective administrative support unit. A future MarAdmin will provide specific dates of eligibility for the award.
During its LF6F 2-02 deployment (February to August 2002), the MEU consisted of its Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Bn., 6th Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced), and MEU Service Support Group 22. Currently, the MEU's major subordinate elements are BLT 1/6, HMM-266 (Reinforced), and MSSG-22.
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)'s role in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, visit the unit's web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.