Today, the US Coast Guard has a total of 43 battle streamers earned in conflicts and in times of war. One of their streamers is the “Defense of the Philippines” in World War II, and this one was pretty unique because it was earned by the efforts of one man: Thomas Crotty. Here’s how he did it.

Battle Streamers

The practice of inscribing the names of battles on the guidon or organizational color could be traced back to 1861. On August 25 that year, Major General John C. Fremont, who was then commanding the Western Department, commended troops from Iowa, Kansa, and Missouri for their outstanding service in the battle of Wilson’s Creek in Missouri that happened ten days prior. The Union troops fought and won against the Confederate force, which was five times their number. Even so, the battle ended in a moral victory. As a constant reminder of their impressive performance in the battle, Fremont ordered that the word “Springfield” be adorned on the colors of the units that were involved in the said battle. As per the General Order 19, War Department, February 22, 1862,

 There should be inscribed upon the color or guidons of all regiments and batteries the names of the battles in which they had borne a meritorious part.


US Coast Guard Battle Streamer
US Coast Guard Battle Streamer (U.S. Coast Guard/Twitter)


The inscribed battle honors on the national and regimental colors were discontinued on February 7, 1890, and were instead replaced with engraved silver rings and remained so until 1918. Due to a shortage in the supply of the silver bands, the War Department authorized General John Pershing to procure ribbon strips as a substitute, inscribed with the name of the battles or major operations that the units engaged in during World War I.

US Coast Guard Campaign & Award Streamers (Screenshot from

The cords and tassels of the Cost Guard standard were replaced by the streamers that they earned, and they are always carried at ceremonies, a reminder of the heroic actions that the units did and will ever do.

Cut Out for the Coastguard

Thomas James Eugene Crotty was born in Buffalo, New York, on March 18, 1912. He attended the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, where he stood out and showed that he was cut to be a “Coastie.” He was also active in both sports and leadership, serving as the captain of their football team and, at the same time, the class president during his senior year.