Due to racial tension within the US Army, the 369th Infantry Regiment was assigned to the French Army for the duration of US involvement in World War I. Formed from the 15th New York National Guard Regiment and nicknamed the "Harlem Hellfighters," the 369th was the first African American regiment to reach the battlefields of World War I and the first Allied troops to reach the banks of the Rhine. Upon completion of the 369th’s service in the war, the regiment had spent 191 days in combat, the longest of any American regiment. In appreciation for their actions in the Maison-en-Champagne campaign, the 369th was awarded the Croix de Guerre by the French Government for acts of bravery in conflicts against the enemy. In addition to this honor, 171 individual members of the 369th Regiment were awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Legion of Honor. The 369th Regiment finished their service in Europe and returned to the US in February 1919.
Florentine bronze cross patée, with two crossed swords between the arms. The center of the front side shows the symbolic profile of the French Republic: a young woman wearing a Phrygian cap. The words [REPUBLIC FRANCAISE] (French Republic) encircle the portrait. The cross is suspended by a green ribbon with seven narrow vertical red stripes. A bronze star affixed to the ribbon indicates McVey was honored at the regiment or brigade level. The back of the medal has the dates of World War I, [1914 / 1918].
A World War I Croix de Guerre medal awarded to the 369th Infantry Regiment. The medal consists of a Florentine bronze cross patée, with two crossed swords between the arms. The center of the front side shows the profile of a young woman wearing a Phrygian cap. The words "République française" encircle the portrait. Embossed on the back of the medal is “1914 / 1918.” The cross shaped medal is attached to a green ribbon with seven vertical red stripes.