"Tiffany" Medal of Honor Comes to Navy Museum

Story Number: NNS030424-07Release Date: 4/27/2003 5:16:00 PM
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By Michael Birnie, The Navy Museum Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy Museum has recently acquired, thanks to the FBI, the Medal of Honor awarded to Navy dentist Lt.j.g. Weedon E. Osborne.

The medal was awarded to Osborne posthumously for his valor during World War I, and is a rare example of the "Tiffany Cross" type.

The medal came into the hands of the FBI in 2002 after an attempt to sell it in South Carolina. Under an Act of Congress, it is illegal to sell any Medals of Honor within the territorial limits of the United States.

Tim Frank, the historian for the Medal of Honor Society, first made the museum aware of the medal. Recently, the FBI agreed to release it to be eventually displayed in the museum's World War I exhibit.

Osborne received the medal for heroism in France, June 6, 1918, during the Battle of Belleau Wood. During the engagement, Osborne, a dental surgeon in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps attached to the 6th Marine Regiment, rescued Capt. Donald Duncan, who had been severely wounded by machine gun fire.

However, before reaching safety, both men were killed by shellfire.

For his valor, in addition to the Medal of Honor, he was also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross.

Prior to World War II, the Navy Medal of Honor could be awarded for both combat and non-combat actions. Osborne's Medal of Honor is significant because it is a rare 'Tiffany Cross' edition first introduced by the Navy Department in 1919 to be the combat version of the medal. Awardees for non-combat actions still received the original (and current) medal design.

The name 'Tiffany Cross' comes from the medal being originally designed by the famous jewelers Tiffany & Company of New York. The cross was not a popular award and is the rarest of all Medals of Honor in existence.

Eventually, in 1942, the Navy returned to the original medal design for combat awards and abolished non-combat awards of the Medal of Honor.

The medal bears the blue silk ribbon of the Maltese cross below the bar bearing the word 'Valour.' The medal itself features the American eagle in the center surrounded by a six-sided border, over the top of which is printed 'United States Navy' and below '1917-1918.' The four arms of the cross bear Navy anchors. On reverse, the medal has the words "Awarded To Lt. (j.g.) Weedon E. Osborne, United States Navy."

"This is a significant addition to the museum collection, as Lt.j.g. Osborne was only one of four naval surgeons to receive this award. He was also one of only two naval dentists to receive the Medal of Honor," said Navy Museum Curator Dr. Edward Furgol.

For related news, visit the Naval Historical Center Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navhist.

The 1917  1918 Medal of Honor design commonly called the Tiffany Cross comes from the medal being originally designed by the famous jewelers Tiffany and Company of New York
030424-N-0000X-001 Washington Navy Yard (Apr. 24, 2003) -- The 1917 - 1918 Medal of Honor design, commonly called the "Tiffany Cross" was first introduced by the Navy in 1919 to honor non-combatant heroism. The name "Tiffany Cross" comes from the medal being originally designed by the famous jewelers Tiffany and Company of New York. This particular style of cross was not a popular award and was abolished in 1942. The Navy Museum, Washington Navy Yard has recently acquired the "Tiffany Cross" Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to U.S. Navy dentist Lt.j.g. Weedon E. Osborne for heroism during World War I. U.S. Navy photo.
April 25, 2003
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