Urged by its chair to seek out designs that are symbolic rather than realistic, the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee did just that at its Oct. 14 meeting in Washington, D.C.
Although the committee did not go as far as its chair, Gary Marks, had urged, it did back designs that were more symbolic than the ones sponsoring groups had sought for congressional medals honoring the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders from World War II and the nation's American Fighter Aces during four wars.
The committee also discussed design concepts for 2016 Mark Twain commemorative gold $5 half eagles and silver dollars.
Doolittle Tokyo Raiders
For the obverse of their medal, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders had sought a design showing the aircraft carrier USS Hornet launching one of the 16 Army B-25 bombers that participated in the first U.S. strike against mainland Japan in World War II.
The committee instead endorsed a design that focuses on three bombers headed directly ahead off the carrier's flight deck.
"All I can think is uh-oh. It is as if they were going at me," said CCAC member Mary N. Lannin, who joined the meeting by telephone from Europe.
For the reverse, the panel urged a design showing four bombers flying over an outline of Tokyo. This design received 20 out of a possible 24 points under a voting system that allows each committee member participating to assign up to three points to any design. With eight members voting at the meeting, that meant the maximum any design could receive was 24 points.
The committee tied over a motion to reject its choice for the reverse in favor of a purely symbolic design favored by Marks that showed a seahorse, representing the Navy ship, and an eagle, representing the bombers, attacking with bolts of lighting.
At the urging of the veterans, the committee did urge its recommended obverse design be altered to show the Hornet's superstructure. Japanese carriers, unlike U.S. carriers, had no superstructures, the veterans told the committee.
The committee also voted to place the date of the raid — April 18, 1942 — on the obverse and move the language "First Strike Back" to the medal's reverse.
Fighter Aces medal
For the obverse of a medal honoring fighter aces from World Wars I and II, Korea and Vietnam, the panel accepted one of the two obverse designs endorsed by the American Fighter Aces Association.