Americans did their best to remain neutral in a brewing world war in Europe in the early part of the 1900s.  Europe was an-ocean-away, and there was greater trouble nearby.  All along the southern border of the United States, from Mexico to the Gulf, and out into the Caribbean, unrest in several smaller western nations were greater cause for concern.  Following a bloody coup d'etat in Mexico in 1913, American soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen participated in the Vera Cruz campaign of 1914 that resulted in awards of 55 Medals of Honor.

The unrest continued throughout Central America and into the Caribbean countries of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.   Haiti owed great debts to European nations including France and Germany, which were presently at war with each other.  President Woodrow Wilson feared that these facts might prompt the intervention of either or both European nations in the Western hemisphere.  Both France and Germany had threatened to collect their debts from Haiti by force if necessary, and to deter foreign intervention, the United States Navy was tasked with patrolling the Caribbean.

The actions of United States Marines over the next two decades throughout Latin America and the Caribbean might well be viewed as the defense of the century-old Monroe Doctrine, that prohibited European nations from involving themselves in the affairs of western nations.

The Republic of Haiti itself was a matter of great concern, and had been for several years.  Freed from French rule in 1804, the small island nation had been split in 1844 when the people of the eastern half of the island declared independence from Haiti to become the Dominican Republic.  In the years that followed, each small country  continued to be wracked by internal strife, revolutions, and bloody coup d'etats.

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