Republic of China: Sino-American Cooperative Organization Service Medal 1942-1945. Second type. Gilt & enamel
Note: This a later 'Second Type' item of insignia with 'Silver solid crossed hands' in obverse centre
Medal riband complete with original mounting bar, the reverse of which retains the long-hinged pin and clasp fittings
Reference 'Sino-American Cooperative Organization Commemorative Medal' (Frank C. Brown and Vernon Brook published in the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America, Volume 26, Issue 9 of 1975, that provides a description of the first type medals;
SACO (Sino-American Cooperative Organization), also generally referred to as the "Rice Paddy Navy", was a joint Chinese Nationalist/U. S. Navy and Marine Corps unit which operated against the Japanese invaders on the Chinese Mainland during WWII (1942-45). SACO was headed by Lieutenant General Tai Li, Chief of the Nationalist Chinese Intelligence Bureau, while the ranking American was Captain (later Rear Admiral) Milton "Mary" Miles, U. S. Navy.
In early 1974 the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China ordered the manufacture of some 600 SACO medals, and these were presented to the American participants at the annual SACO convention that summer in San Diego.
The medals are in a boxed presentation case, and include miniature, ribbon bar, and lapel pin. The manufacturer was the Hsiang Fat Industrial Works, Taipei, Taiwan. The characters on the back read "In recognition of the contributions made by those who fought against the aggressors for freedom during the period 1942-45. Presented by their Chinese comrades-in-arms".
Additionally, information received from the Chinese Intelligence Bureau in Taipei states that a biography of the late Lieutenant Genera! Tai Li is underway, and scheduled for release in late 1975 or early 1976.
The medal is multi-rayed alternating blue, white, and red separated by gold rays. The center of the medal shows the flags of Nationalist China on the left and the United States of America on the right, in their proper colors, over which is superimposed two hands, in gold, clasped in friendship. Below the hands there are Chinese characters on the left and "SACO" on the right in silver. Maximum diameter of the medal is 5.8 cm measured from the tips of the longest (Blue) rays. The superimposed circle showing the flags and hands has a diameter of 2.7 cm. Weight of the planchet is 34 grams.
The ribbon is made up of a narrow stripe of gold in the center, flanked by wider stripes of red, white, and blue. Maximum ribbon width is 3.4 cm with the blue stripes being 6 mm in width, the red and white stripes measuring 5 mm while the center gold stripe is 2 mm in width.
SACO (pronounced SOCKO), Sino-American Cooperative Organization, was a U.S. Naval Group which operated during World War II behind Japanese lines in China. Some of the men who walked the seemingly endless berms around the flooded rice fields declared that they had joined a Rice Paddy Navy. SACO consisted of 2,964 American (Navy, Army, and Marine) servicemen, 97,000 organized Chinese guerrillas, and 20,000 individualists, who included rival pirate groups as well as lone-wolf saboteurs.
SACO operated extensive networks of weather stations and intelligence agents, guerrilla columns, saboteurs, and 18 training camps in China, Burma, and India. Operations extended from the northern Suiyuan Province (Inner Mongolia) in the Gobi Desert southward into Indochina and Siam, and from Tibet in the west to Shanghai in the east.
The command center was Happy Valley, about eight miles west of Chungking. It also acted as a training center. Two- and three-man teams not only spread throughout China to measure and report the local weather but also occupied coast watcher observation posts which were dangerously close to Japanese troops. These watchers often had to move after each use of their radio in order to avoid capture. Communication within this broad network was achieved by numerous runners, the occasional homing pigeon, and 600 hand cranked radios.
By the first week in July, 1945, Mary Miles had successfully achieved the objective of his secret orders from Adm. King . . to prepare the China coast . . . SACO had surveyed 80 percent of the possible landing sites with detailed photographs of the surface and, in most cases, profiles at 100-foot intervals showing the bottom conditions and underwater defenses. And SACO not only watched and denied safe harbor to Japanese shipping along the 700 miles stretch between Swatow and Hangchow but controlled 200 miles of that Chinese coastline as well as three seaports, Changchow, major parts of Amoy Harbor, and Foochow along with its airfield.
As for the order. . . to heckle the Japanese, the direct actions by SACO yielded the following results:
- Japanese killed, 31,345,
- Japanese wounded 12,969
- Japanese captured 349
- Ships sunk 141
- Locomotives destroyed 84
- Bridges destroyed 209
Two and a half Japanese were killed for every U.S. weapon placed in Navy-trained guerrilla hands; that was more enemies per gun than the U.S. Marines. All this was achieved despite being limited, for various reasons, to never more than 150 tons of supplies monthly.
These American men lived and worked with the Chinese under cultural conditions previously unknown to each. They became dedicated brothers in arms despite limited knowledge of each others language. When asked what he had done in China, a SACO veteran usually has replied "nothing" but the group contributed significantly to the defeat of the Japanese invaders.
Necessarily, most of the activities of SACO had to be kept secret during the war. To the citizens of the United States the Asian campaign seemed minor compared the war elsewhere; most never heard of SACO. However. these men and their deeds continue to be revered in China and studied in the tenth-grade history books in Taiwan.
Admiral Milton E. Miles was in essence, the captain of SACO, a ship that sailed in uncharted waters. A truth within the Navy is that the success of a ships mission depends upon the strength, hard work, and capability of the crew. Up to the day of his death, March 25, 1961, Admiral Miles was more than satisfied with the performances and achievements of each, and every one of his men, the crew of SACO. His two most often used words to two describe their actions bear repeating;
See below website for more details and nominal roll of the American members of SACO, or 'Rice Paddy Navy;
A very scarce and highly desirable 'China' theatre medal for the highly distinguished 'Rice Paddy Navy'
Condition: About EF