Obverse Design

Coin has a medium sized colored Ranger insignia in the center. The Ranger insignia is a shield with four cantons. A red lightning bolt goes from the upper right canton to the lower left canton. These two cantons have a green background. The upper left canton has a 12 pointed white sun on a blue background. The edging on the sun goes around the outer edges only and does not include a center circle. The lower right canton has a five pointed white star on a blue background. The 12 pointed sun is the Sun symbol from the Chinese Nationalist Flag and represents the unit's close cooperation with the Chinese forces in the China-Burma-India Theater. The five-point star represents the Star of Burma. The lightning bolt is symbolic of behind-the-lines strikes, a specialty of the Rangers.

There are two banners above the insignia and three below. The top banner is a little larger than the others and says "1ST RANGER BN". The next banner down, right above the insignia says "GRENADA . PANAMA". The banner below the insignia is the longest, curving up both sides of the shield and says "MYITKYINA MESSINA OMAHA BEACH". The next banner down says "KOREA . VIETNAM". The bottom banner says "MERRILL'S MARAUDERS", which is a nickname which applies to the entire 75th Ranger Regiment. The coin has a smooth plain raised edge, and a plain and smooth background.

Reverse Design

The center of the medal has a scroll partially unrolled, with a rod through the rolled up portion at the top. This is where the name of the receipient can be engraved. Above and overlapping the top of the scroll is a design of a parachute with feathered wings on it. Above the parachute is a small five-point star in a wreath of feathered wings. This is the badge of a Master Parachutist. Below the scroll along the bottom edge of the medal is the legend "RANGERS LEAD THE WAY". The coin has a smooth plain raised edge, and a plain and smooth background.

Metal Greenish Brown. Weight 28.2 gr (about 1 oz) Size and Shape Round, 38.12 mm (1.5 inches) in diameter.
Dates Issued Unknown, after Just Cause Operation December 1989 and by March, 2003.
Issuer 1st Ranger Battalion.
Mintage Unknown.
Rarity Common. Manufacturer Unknown. Source Plowman Collection.

There are three varieties which appear identical at first glance. However, there are subtle differences. The first one is smaller than one and larger than the other variety at 39 mm with natural metal (bronze) colored lightning and stars on the obverse.

The second variety is the largest at 41 mm with edged lightning, sun and star. The edging on the sun includes a central circle with the rays coming out like spokes. The lightning has been colored red and the stars white. This variety has a green-brown metal (as opposed to bronze) with a matte finish (as opposed to glossy), and the reverse design features are further from the rim of the medal.

The third variety is the smallest at 38 mm. It also has edged lightning, sun and stars. However, the sun does not have central circle edging and the rays as less distintive. This variety also is made of a similar green-brown metal, but has a glossy finish (as opposed to matte finish). On the reverse, the insignia is close to the rim at the top. The rims are narrow as compared to the broad rims of the other two varieties.

Population Count Back in 2003, this variety was the most common available. Now, however (January, 2006), I do not see any being offered.
Historical Note The 1st Ranger Battalion and C Company, 3rd Battalion performed a combat parachute assault on Torrijos/Tocumen air fields during the night of December 19th and early morning of December 20th, 1989 as part of Operation Just Cause. They were known as Task Force Red - Tango. By 2:10 AM on the morning of the 20th the Rangers were successful in eliminating PDF resistance at the airport complex. They suffered a handful of casualties including PFC James William Markwell killed in action.