Information

The Medal of Honor: 6 Surprising Facts


1. At first, the idea of a Medal of Honor was dismissed as too “European.”
During the American Revolution, George Washington established the first combat decoration in U.S. history, known as the Badge of Military Merit. After the conflict it fell into disuse, as did its successor, the Certificate of Merit, bestowed during the Mexican-American War. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, proponents of a new award made their case to Winfield Scott, general-in-chief of the Union Army. Scott, a respected commander despite being too feeble and corpulent to mount a horse in the waning years of his career, scoffed at the suggestion, saying it smacked of European tradition. It was only after his retirement that Medal of Honor supporters in Congress could introduce bills providing for the decoration.

2. Only one woman has received the Medal of Honor, and her award was temporarily rescinded.
A medical doctor who supported feminist and abolitionist causes, Mary Edwards Walker volunteered with the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Despite her training, she initially had to work as a nurse before becoming the Army’s first female surgeon. Known to cross enemy lines in order to treat civilians, she may have been serving as a spy when Confederate troops captured her in the summer of 1864. Walker was later released as part of a prisoner exchange and returned to duty. On November 11, 1865, President Andrew Johnson presented her with the Medal of Honor, making her the only woman to date to receive the decoration. In 1917 the Army changed its eligibility criteria for the honor and revoked the awards of 911 non-combatants, including Walker. Nevertheless, she continued to wear her medal until her death two years later. An Army board restored Walker’s Medal of Honor in 1977, praising her “distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex.”

3. Theodore Roosevelt is the only U.S. president to have received the Medal of Honor, which he was awarded posthumously.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt famously quit his job to lead a volunteer regiment known as the Rough Riders. Roosevelt and his men played a decisive role in the Battle of San Juan Hill and took part in other confrontations in Cuba. In 1916, less than three years before his death, the 26th president was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but the Army passed him over, citing a lack of evidence for his heroic actions at San Juan Hill. President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded him the decoration in 2001. Roosevelt’s son, Theodore Jr., who served in both World Wars, also received the Medal of Honor.

4. The youngest Medal of Honor recipient was awarded at 11 and was granted it at 13.
Born in New York, 11-year-old Willie Johnston enlisted in the Union Army alongside his father, serving as a drummer boy with the 3rd Vermont Infantry during the Civil War. In June 1862, overpowered by Confederate forces, his unit retreated down the Virginia Peninsula under orders from General George McClellan. Along the way, the men discarded their equipment to hasten their pace. Young Willie, however, clung to his drum throughout the march and was later asked to play for his entire division on July 4. When Abraham Lincoln heard about the drummer’s bravery, he recommended him for the Medal of Honor, and Willie received the award in September 1863. In the 20th century, the youngest recipient was Jack Lucas, a marine who at just 17 shielded fellow squad members from grenades at Iwo Jima.

5. The award is not called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Contrary to popular belief, the official title of the highest U.S. military distinction is simply the Medal of Honor, not the Congressional Medal of Honor. The confusion may have arisen because the president presents the award “in the name of Congress.” There is also a Congressional Medal of Honor Society, which represents recipients of the Medal of Honor, maintains their records and organizes reunion events, among other responsibilities.

6. It’s illegal to wear someone else’s Medal of Honor, but it’s not illegal to pretend you have one.
U.S. criminal law forbids the unauthorized wearing, manufacture and sale of military decorations, and misuse of a Medal of Honor carries a particularly heavy penalty. In 2006 President George W. Bush signed into law the Stolen Valor Act, which imposed a prison sentence of up to one year on anyone falsely claiming to have received a Medal of Honor. (Pretenders to other military decorations faced imprisonment for up to six months.) The Supreme Court struck down the act on June 28, 2012, ruling that it violated the right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment.


10 Astounding Actions Earning A Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed on a member of the United States armed forces who distinguishes himself &ldquoconspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.&rdquo Because of the nature of its criteria, the medal is often awarded posthumously.

In one of the most awe-inspiring displays of reckless bravery WWII has to offer the history books, Cmdr. Evans, three-fourths Cherokee from Oklahoma, led his destroyer, the USS Johnston, straight into the face of a gargantuan Japanese naval fleet, on 25 October 1944, off Samar Island, in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

He was part of a very small fleet designed to support the marines currently assaulting Leyte. This fleet had 3 destroyers, very small ships, 4 destroyer escorts, even smaller, and 6 escort carriers, with only about 30 planes each. The fleet was not expecting a naval engagement because Adm. Halsey&rsquos much larger fleet was supposed to be guarding the north flank. Halsey, however, had gone after another Japanese fleet and left the flank open.

Down came another Japanese fleet intent on destroying the marines on Leyte. Task Unit 77.4.3 (Taffy 3) initially tried to flee the area when confronted by such massive force. Evans, however, refused to yield to the enemy. As soon as the Johnston sighted the enemy, Evans came over the intercom, &ldquoA large Japanese fleet has been contacted. They are fifteen miles away and headed in our direction. They are believed to have four battleships, eight cruisers, and a number of destroyers. This will be a fight against overwhelming odds from which survival cannot be expected. We will do what damage we can.&rdquo

He ordered the Johnston to come about and attack at flank speed, charging the entire fleet alone. When Adm. Sprague, in charge of Taffy 3, saw this, he laughed and said, &ldquoWell, what the hell. You gotta die of something. Small boys attack.&rdquo

The rest of the destroyers and destroyer escorts turned and followed the Johnston, and the Japanese opened fire with 18.1 inch guns, 16 inch guns, 14 inch guns, 8 and 6 inch guns, blasting up the water on both sides of the Johnston. Astoundingly, Evans conned the ship through the splashes in a zigzag until he was within range with his 5 inch guns, which could not penetrate the hulls of the IJN&rsquos battleships and cruisers. He ordered fire concentrated on the upper decks to do the most damage, and this succeeded in knocking down the superstructures and setting the ships afire.

Then the Johnston fired torpedoes and blew the bow off the Kumano, a heavy cruiser, which necessitated another cruiser leaving the fight to assist evacuation. Finally, the Japanese scored hits, a 14 incher, and three 6 inchers, which went clean through the entire vessel without detonating. The first knocked out half the engine power and the electricity to the aft gun turrets.

Evans was struck by one of the blasts and had 2 fingers ripped from his left hand and his shirt burned off.

The Johnston was crippled, but still refused to withdraw and set out a smoke screen. The other destroyers and escorts arrived and every man was consigned to death in order to enable the escort carriers to escape.

By the time it was over, the Johnston had slugged it out with titanic battleships and cruisers, and a line of 4 IJN destroyers, driving the latter off, until another salvo knocked the engine out and detonated several 5 inch shells in the forward magazine.

The Johnston was dead in the water and the IJN surrounded it and fired from all sides. Incredibly, Evans refused to order &ldquoabandon ship&rdquo until all remaining rounds had been fired, even the starbusts, which are like flares, and the sandbag rounds for practice. When the Japanese passed the survivors in the water, they threw them food and water and saluted them, shouting, &ldquoSamurai! Samurai!&rdquo

Evans was not among the survivors pulled from the water after the battle. His fate is unknown. He may have been eaten by sharks.

One of the more darkly humorous episodes of warfare occurred on 29 January 1945, in Holzheim, Belgium. Funk and his paratroopers were assaulting the town, and he left a rearguard of 4 men, while he scouted ahead to link up with other units, Those 4 men had to guard about 80 German prisoners.

Another German patrol of 10 happened by and overwhelmed the 4 Americans, freeing the prisoners and arming them. When Funk returned around the corner of a building, he was met by a German officer with an MP-40 in his stomach. The German shouted something at him, and Funk looked around.

There were now about 90 Germans, about half of them armed, and 5 Americans, disarmed except for Funk. The German shouted the same thing at him again, and Funk started laughing. He claimed later that he tried to stop laughing, but the fact that the German was shouting in German touched a nerve. Funk didn&rsquot speak German. Neither did any of the other Americans. Why would the German officer expect him to understand?

His laughter and non-compliance caused some of the Germans to start laughing. Funk shrugged at them and started laughing so hard he had to bend over. He called to his men, &ldquoI don&rsquot understand what he&rsquos saying!&rdquo All the while, the German officer was shouting more and more angrily.

Then, quick as lightning, Funk swung his Thompson submachine gun up and emptied the entire clip into the German, 30 rounds of .45 ACP. Before the other Germans could react, he had yanked the clip out and slammed another in and opened fire on all of them, screaming to his men to pick up weapons. They did so, and proceeded to gun down 20 men. The rest dropped their weapons and put their hands up.

Then Funk started laughing again and said to his men, &ldquoThat was the stupidest fucking thing I&rsquove ever seen!&rdquo

One of the hardest fights the Allies had in Europe was outside Aachen, Germany, the Battle of Crucifix Hill. The crucifix is still there, now a monument to the battle. Brown was placed in charge of Company C, with about 120 men, assigned to take the hill or die trying. The entire American force on the hill was a full regiment of about 500. They were facing an equal number of well entrenched Germans. If the hill was not taken, the Allies could not encircle Aachen. The Germans could pour down artillery on the entire town.

There were at least 43 pillboxes and bunkers, bristling with machine guns and plenty of men. Company C was assigned pillboxes 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 29, and 30. The worst of these was 20, with a 360 degree turret on top armed with an 88 mm cannon. The walls were 6 feet of steel reinforced concrete.

After crawling 150 yards under heavy enemy fire to 18 and blowing it up with a satchel charge, Brown crawled again through heavy enemy fire, 35 yards to 19, and several mortar rounds landed around him, knocking him down. He got back up, climbed on top of the bunker and dropped a bangalore torpedo through a hole in the roof. This blew a larger hole, into which he dropped a satchel, and destroyed the emplacement.

20, however, had 45 men and 6 machine guns aimed out around it. When he returned for more demolition, his sergeant told him, &ldquoThere&rsquos bullet holes in your canteen.&rdquo He had been hit in the hip and was bleeding profusely. He crawled down a communications trench 20 yards from 19 to 20, and saw a German entering a steel door in the side. Brown was an ex-boxer, and knocked this man out with one swing, through him inside, and then threw 2 in satchel charges, and ran.

20 exploded so violently that flames flew out the top and caught a tree on fire. Brown personally led his men on a path of destruction through the rest of their assignments, and after an hour of tooth-and-nail fighting, Crucifix Hill was reduced to smoking rubble.

Brown shot himself in 1971, plagued ever since the war with bad memories and pain from his wounds.

On 2 May 1968, 12 Green Berets were surrounded near Loc Ninh, South Vietnam, by an entire battalion of NVA. They were thus outnumbered, 12 men versus about 1,000. They dug in and tried to hold them off, but were not going to last long. Benavidez heard their distress call over a radio in town and boarded a rescue helicopter with first aid equipment. He did not have time to grab a weapon before the helicopter left, so he voluntarily jumped into the hot LZ armed only with his knife.

He sprinted across 75 meters of open terrain through withering small arms and machine gun fire to reach the pinned down MACV-SOG team. By the time he reached them, he had been shot 4 times, twice in the right leg, once through both cheeks, which knocked out four molars, and a glancing shot off his head.

He ignored these wounds and began administering first aid. The rescue chopper left as it was not designed to extract men. An extraction chopper was sent for, and Benavidez took command of the men by directing their fire around the edges of the clearing in order to facilitate the chopper&rsquos landing. When the aircraft arrived, he supervised the loading of the wounded on board, while throwing smoke canisters to direct the chopper&rsquos exact landing. He was wounded severely and at all times under heavy enemy crossfire, but still carried and dragged half of the wounded men to the chopper.

He then ran alongside the landing skids providing protective fire into the trees as the chopper moved across the LZ collecting the wounded. The enemy fire got worse, and Benavidez was hit solidly in the left shoulder. He got back up and ran to the platoon leader, dead in the open, and retrieved classified documents. He was shot in the abdomen, and a grenade detonated nearby peppering his back with shrapnel.

The chopper pilot was mortally wounded then, and his chopper crashed. Benavidez was in extremely critical condition, and still refused to fall. He ran to the wreckage and got the wounded out of the aircraft, and arranged them into a defensive perimeter to wait for the next chopper. The enemy automatic rifle fire and grenades only intensified, and Benavidez ran and crawled around the perimeter giving out water and ammunition.

The NVA was building up to wipe them out, and Benavidez called in tactical air strikes with a squawk box and threw smoke to direct the fire of arriving gunships. Just before the extraction chopper landed, he was shot again in the left thigh while giving first aid to a wounded man. He still managed to get to his feet and carry some of the men to the chopped, directing the others, when an NVA soldier rushed from the woods and clubbed him over the head with an AK-47. This caused a skull fracture and a deep gash to his left upper arm, and yet he still got back up and decapitated the soldier with one swing of his knife, severing the spine and all tissue on one side of the neck. He then resumed carrying the wounded to the chopper and returning for others, and was shot twice more in the lower back. He shot two more NVA soldiers trying to board the chopper, then made one last trip around the LZ to be sure all documents were retrieved, and finally boarded the chopper. He had lost 2 quarts of blood. Before he blacked out, he shouted to one of the other Green Berets, &ldquoAnother great day to be in South Vietnam!&rdquo

This battle lasted six hours. He had been wounded 37 times.

The first Medal of Honor recipient for actions during the battle of Iwo Jima, Stein charged right into the thickest parts of the fray on D-Day, with the 1st Battalion, 28th Reg., 5th Marines Div. in the assault across the narrowest part of the island, in order to cut off Mount Suribachi from the rest.

He was armed with a homemade .50 caliber machine gun that he salvaged from a downed American aircraft on another island. He fired this from the hip as he charged across the volcanic plains, and engaged the enemy at every pillbox and bunker that he saw shooting at him.

He was observed far ahead of the rest of his men, following, not fleeing, the dust-spots of machine gun fire all around him, disappearing and reappearing in mortar explosions, sprinting and firing at them face to face.

He deliberately stood upright from cover to draw enemy fire to him and away from pinned down marines, and to ascertain enemy locations, then charged them and killed 20 enemy soldiers before he ran out of ammunition. His weapon fired 100 rounds in 5 seconds.

He took off his helmet and boots, then ran back down to the beach to rearm, then returned and resumed fighting. He did this 8 times, and on every trip back to the beach, he picked up a wounded man and carried him on his shoulders. He destroyed at least 14 enemy installations on the first day of action.

He was killed almost 2 weeks later on a scouting mission, by a sniper, after having been given leave from the island, and then returning when he heard how hard a time his buddies were having.

When told about Stein afterward, Joe Rosenthal, who took the famous flag-raising picture on Suribachi, said, &ldquoRunning through bullets and not getting hit is like running through rain and not getting wet!&rdquo

Thomas Baker personally shot 12 Japanese soldiers manning a machine gun behind his lines on Saipan. This was several days after he ran ahead of his men into the open fire of a pillbox, and fired a bazooka into it. Right after he killed those 12 men, he ran farther back to occupy a rearguard position for his men as they advanced across open terrain. He surprised a group of 6 enemy soldiers concealed and waiting to ambush the next group of Americans to pass. He shot all 6 dead.

Almost 3 weeks later, as the Battle of Saipan was drawing to an end, the Japanese staged a last-ditch banzai attack, the largest of the war, at night, and Baker&rsquos perimeter was beset on 3 sides by at least 3,000 drunken, screaming soldiers. There may have been 5,000.

He dug into a foxhole and shot down scores of them until his ammunition was exhausted, by which time he had been shot in the abdomen. He then destroyed his rifle by using it as a baseball bat against a dozen more.

Another marine ran to rescue him and carry him back. He had gotten about 50 yards when a Japanese soldier shot the rescuer dead. Baker shot the Japanese dead with the rescuer&rsquos rifle. A second marine arrived to help him, but Baker shoved him away, shouting, &ldquoGet away from me! I&rsquove caused enough problems! Gimme your .45!&rdquo

The marine handed it to him and propped him against a tree and fled. A third marine passed some time later and offered to help him, but Baker refused. When they found him the next morning, he lay dead against the tree in a pool of blood, his pistol empty, and 8 dead Japanese soldiers around him.

S/Sg Bob Howard is the closest anyone has ever gotten to 3 Medals of Honor for 3 separate actions. He was a Green Beret of the highly classified Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, Studies and Observations Group (MACV-SOG), and his men engaged in black ops all over North Vietnam, and into Cambodia at a time when these actions were very sensitive to world opinion of the United States.

This is why his first two actions were downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross: the government did not want to draw attention to the MACV-SOG. His Medal of Honor finally came because of a rescue mission he led into Cambodia to find Pfc. Robert Scherdin. Howard was a Sfc. at the time, and after his platoon left the cover of its helicopter, it was attacked by 2 companies of NVA, about 300 men.

Howard took shrapnel to the fronts of his legs and forearms from a grenade, and his rifle was blown to pieces out of his hands. When he sat up he saw his platoon leader seriously wounded and exposed to fire, and proceeded to crawl through withering machine gun and small arms fire. As he administered first aid, a bullet blew one of his ammunition pouches off his belt, detonating several magazines of M-16 rounds.

He still crawled back with the wounded platoon leader, then crawled among his buddies administering first aid, and directing their fire to better places. This lasted for 3 and a half hours, until they actually fought the NVA off and permitted the arrival of two more helicopters. Howard refused to leave until everyone was aboard, all the while taking heavy enemy fire from within the jungle.

Howard was wounded 14 times in 54 months performing deeds like this. He died 23 Dec. 2009 in Waco, TX, from pancreatic cancer.

WWI&rsquos most famous American hero could not stand talking about what he did to become so. He was a conscientious objector, claiming Christianity on his draft notice, and yet was still drafted because the U. S. military does not put much stock into Christian pacifism (though Jesus was quite clear on whether or not you should kill people).

He finally decided to go to war because he would be helping stop the Germans and save American lives. He became well known as the finest marksman at Camp Gordon, GA, scoring perfect bullseyes with open sights more often than the snipers did with scopes.

When his drill instructor how he did it, he said something one might expect from Yogi Berra, &ldquoI was born shootin&rsquo a gun better than I could read, sir. I still can.&rdquo

York&rsquos battalion was sent to secure the Decauville railway, just north of Chatel-Chehery, in North France, just south of Belgium, on 8 October 1918. 17 men, four non-coms, and 13 privates were ordered to flank the German line and destroy the machine guns from the rear. They captured about 70 Germans and were trying to disarm them, when the machine guns spotted them and turned around to fire on them. 9 Americans around York dropped immediately, 6 of them dead.

Corporal York was now in charge, and left the 7 Americans still fit for duty to guard the Germans while he ran from cover to cover up the hill, shooting the whole way.

&ldquoAnd those machine guns were spitting fire and cutting down the undergrowth all around me something awful. And the Germans were yelling orders. You never heard such a racket in all of your life. I didn&rsquot have time to dodge behind a tree or dive into the brush&hellip As soon as the machine guns opened fire on me, I began to exchange shots with them. There were over thirty of them in continuous action, and all I could do was touch the Germans off just as fast as I could. I was sharp shooting&hellip All the time I kept yelling at them to come down. I didn&rsquot want to kill any more than I had to. But it was they or I. And I was giving them the best I had.&rdquo

He shot 15 men dead with his own rifle, and was out of ammunition. He then pulled his .45 and shot 8 more that charged him with bayonets. He then grabbed one of their rifles and fired on a few more machine gun nests, until the Germans surrendered.

When a friend back home, who did not enlist, asked him how many Germans he killed, York started sobbing so hard he threw up. He had killed at least 28.

WWII&rsquos answer to SG York was a man only 5 feet 5 inches tall, and 150 pounds. He earned every major combat award the U. S. has to offer, fighting in Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Rome, and France. He got the DSC in Normandy, when a German called down from a hilltop that he was surrendering. One of Murphy&rsquos buddies took the bait and stood up, right into a sniper&rsquos bullet. This infuriated Murphy, who jumped up and shot the sniper dead, then charged up the hill and wiped out a machine gun nest of 6 men, firing and throwing grenades at them. Then he picked up the MG-42 and charged over the hillside spraying it from the hip, killing 10 more men.

When asked how it felt to have the DSC, he said, &ldquoI got the DSC. All he got was dead.&rdquo It was on 26 January 1945, in Holtzwihr, France, almost on the German border, that he earned the Medal of Honor for ordering his men to retreat as the German assault on the town began. His unit had only 19 fighting men left out of 128. He stayed behind and shot the Germans as they emerged from the woods to cross a clearing, until he was out of ammunition. He then climbed onto a burning tank destroyer and used the .50 caliber machine gun to push them back. The Panzers and mortars started blowing up the ground all around him, but he continued this one-man assault for an hour, until he started calling in artillery strikes over the tank destroyer&rsquos phone.

He called these strikes in closer and closer to his position, blowing up Germans and tanks less than 50 yards from him. He finally called a strike on his position, prompting the man on the other end to say, &ldquoThat&rsquos right on top of you! How close are they!?&rdquo

&ldquoHold the phone! I&rsquoll let you talk to them!&rdquo he shouted and jumped from the vehicle, and ran into the woods as they overran his position and were struck down again by American cannon fire. As the Germans were in disarray, he called his men out and organized a counter-attack, driving the German&rsquos back.

His men estimated that he had killed 50 men.

William Hawkins waged one of the most furious one-man army assaults on enemy positions in the history of modern warfare. When the marines went ashore on Tarawa atoll, Betio Island, Hawkins told Robert Sherrod, who later became an editor for the Saturday Evening Post, that he would put his platoon of 40 men against any company of 150 men on Earth and guarantee to win.

&ldquoHe was slightly wounded by shrapnel as he came ashore in the first wave, but the furthest thing from his mind was to be evacuated. He led his platoon into the forest of coconut palms. During a day and a half he personally cleaned out six Jap machine gun nests, sometimes standing on top of a track and firing point blank at four or five men who fired back at him from behind blockhouses. Lieutenant Hawkins was wounded a second time, but he still refused to retire.&rdquo

These machine gun nests were pyramidal huts about the size of a large trash can, made of 6 inch-thick steel, up into which a Japanese soldier could pop from underground and man the heavy or light machine gun through a 4 inch slit.

They were everywhere on the island, and the preparatory bombardment had missed most of them. While most of the marines dug in and kept their heads down, Hawkins stood up in full view not more than 5 yards from these pillboxes and fired his M-1 Carbine at them, killing the soldier and allowing his men to move forward to the next one. He refused to keep his head down, and when he ran out of ammunition, he ran up to their mouths and threw in grenades and satchel charges.

These machine guns fired explosive rounds, about .30 caliber, when a simple lump of lead isn&rsquot enough. He destroyed 7 pillboxes and one blockhouse by himself, despite being wounded early in the engagement. The first was shrapnel as he disembarked the long Betio pier. Later in the day, one of the pillboxes caught him in the chest.

He was helped back to a medic, who bandaged him and demanded he get on a first aid boat and leave. He refused, and said, &ldquoDon&rsquot tie it so tight that I can&rsquot shoot.&rdquo The medic radioed Col. David Shoup, who also won the Medal of Honor for his leadership on the island, and Shoup asked Hawkins to leave.

&ldquoI&rsquom not doing it, sir! I came here to kill Japs, not go home!&rdquo

Shoup relented and the medic complied, and Hawkins destroyed three more pillboxes by the end of the day. He was throwing his fourth grenade at another one when the gunner inside shot him dead. He was 29. Sherrod said later, &ldquoTo say that his conduct was worthy of the highest traditions of the Marine Corps is like saying the Empire State Building is moderately high.&rdquo


Contents

American Civil War Edit

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a war between the United States (the Union) and the Southern states of the newly formed Confederate States of America under Jefferson Davis. The Medal of Honor was established during this conflict 1523 were awarded (33 posthumously) for acts of bravery and gallantry in combat. [11] Most awards were granted after the end of the Civil War with two late awards to Andrew Jackson Smith and Alonzo Cushing in 2001 and 2014. [7]

Indian Wars Edit

The term Indian Wars is the name generally used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between colonial or federal governments and the American Indian population resident in North America before the arrival of civilized settlers. [12] During this conflict the Medal of Honor was presented to 426 soldiers, 13 posthumously for acts of bravery and gallantry in combat. [11]

Korean Expedition Edit

The United States expedition to Korea in 1871, also known as Shinmiyangyo (Western Disturbance of the Shinmi (1871) year), was the first American military action in Korea. It took place predominantly on and around the Korean island of Ganghwa. The reason for the presence of the American military expeditionary force in Korea was to support an American diplomatic delegation sent to establish trade and diplomatic relations with Korea and to ascertain the fate of the General Sherman merchant ship. The isolationist nature of the Joseon Dynasty government and the assertiveness of the Americans led to an armed conflict between the two parties. Eventually, the United States failed to secure its objectives. [13]

Spanish–American War Edit

The Spanish–American War (Spanish: Guerra Hispano-Estadounidense, desastre del 98, Guerra Hispano-Cubana-Norteamericana or Guerra de Cuba) was a military conflict between Spain and the United States that began in April 1898. Hostilities halted in August of that year, and the Treaty of Paris was signed in December. The war began after the American demand for Spain's peacefully resolving the Cuban fight for independence was rejected, though strong expansionist sentiment in the United States may have motivated the government to target Spain's remaining overseas territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and the Caroline Islands. [15]

Riots in Havana by pro-Spanish "Voluntarios" gave the United States reason to send in the warship USS Maine. This action by the U.S. indicated high national interest. Tension among the American people was raised because of the explosion of USS Maine, and "yellow journalism" - sensationalist reporting that exposed Spain’s extensive atrocities, agitating American public opinion. The war ended after decisive naval victories for the United States in the Philippines and Cuba. The Treaty of Paris ended the conflict 109 days after the outbreak of war giving the United States ownership of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam. [16] 111 people received the Medal of Honor from the Spanish–American War.

Samoan Civil War Edit

The Samoan Civil War(s) occurred in the Samoa Islands of the South Pacific in the late 19th century. The Samoan Civil Wars were a series of conflicts between Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, ending in the partitioning of the island chain in 1899. The concluding event was the Second Samoan Civil War. The first Samoan Civil War lasted for eight years. The warring Samoan parties were supplied with arms, training and sometimes even combat troops by Germany, Britain and the United States. These three powers valued Samoa as a refueling station for coal fired shipping. In addition, these countries sought to gain more power in Europe and wanted Samoa due to the scarcity of unclaimed territory from 1870 onwards. [17]

Philippine-American War Edit

The Philippine–American War [n 1] was an armed military conflict between the United States and insurgents calling themselves the “First Philippine Republic”, fought between 1899 and at least 1902, which arose from a Filipino political struggle against U.S. occupation of the Philippines. While the conflict was officially declared over on July 4, 1902, [19] [20] [21] American troops continued hostilities against remnants of the insurgent “Philippine Army” and other insurgent groups until 1913, and some historians consider these unofficial mop-up operations part of the war. [21]

Eighty-six men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Philippine–American War: 70 from the Army, 10 from the Navy, and 6 from the Marine Corps. Four of the awards were posthumous. Among the recipients were Webb Hayes, the son of former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, and two prominent Marine Corps officers, Hiram I. Bearss and David Dixon Porter. Bearss became known for leading long-range reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines and was later wounded as a colonel in World War I. Porter was from a distinguished military family and rose to become a major general. José B. Nísperos, a member of the Philippine Scouts who was honored for continuing to fight after being wounded, was the first Asian recipient of the Medal of Honor. [22]

Boxer Rebellion Edit

The Boxer Movement or Boxer Rebellion, which occurred in China from November 1899 to September 7, 1901, was an uprising by members of the Chinese Society of Right and Harmonious Fists against foreign influence in areas such as trade, politics, religion and technology that occurred in China during the final years of the Manchu rule (Qing Dynasty). The members of the Society of Right and Harmonious Fists were simply called boxers by the Westerners due to the martial arts and calisthenics they practiced. The uprising began as a xenophobic, anti-foreign, nationalist peasant-based movement in northern China. They attacked foreigners who were building railroads and supposedly violating Feng shui, as well as Christians, who were held responsible for the foreigners in China. In June 1900, the Boxers invaded Beijing and killed 230 non-Chinese. Tens of thousands of Chinese Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike, were killed mostly in Shandong and Shanxi Provinces as part of the uprising. This drew criticism from many Chinese, including Chinese Christian Sun Yat-Sen (later to help overthrow the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and become first president of the Republic of China). The government of Empress Dowager Cixi was not helpful, and diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and some Chinese Christians retreated to the legation quarter where they held out for fifty-five days until a multinational coalition rushed 20,000 troops to their rescue. The Chinese government was forced to indemnify the victims and make many additional concessions. Subsequent reforms implemented after the crisis of 1900 laid the foundation for the end of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the modern Chinese Republic. [23]

During the Boxer rebellion, 59 American servicemen received the Medal of Honor for their actions. Four of these were for Army personnel, twenty-two went to navy sailors and the remaining thirty-three went to Marines. Harry Fisher was the first Marine to receive the medal posthumously and the only posthumous recipient for this conflict. [24]

United States occupation of Veracruz, 1914 Edit

The United States occupation of the Mexican port of Veracruz lasted for six months in response to the Tampico Affair of April 9, 1914. The incident came in the midst of poor diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States, related to the ongoing Mexican Revolution. [25]

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered that 56 Medals of Honor be awarded to participants in the occupation of Veracruz, the most for any single action before or since. In total 63 Medals of Honor were received for actions during the occupation 1 Army, 9 to members of the United States Marine Corps and 53 to Navy personnel. [24]

Invasion and occupation of Haiti Edit

The first United States occupation of Haiti began on July 28, 1915 and ended in mid-August 1934.

Occupation of the Dominican Republic Edit

The United States occupied the Dominican Republic from 1916 to 1924. In May 1917, Rear Admiral William Caperton forced Arias to leave Santo Domingo by threatening the city with naval bombardment. U.S. Marines invaded and took control of the country within two months in November that same year, the U.S. imposed a military government. The Marines restored order throughout most of the republic (with the exception of the eastern region) the country's budget was balanced, its debt was diminished, and economic growth resumed infrastructure projects produced new roads that linked all the country's regions for the first time in its history a professional military organization, the Dominican Constabulary Guard, replaced the partisan forces that had waged a seemingly endless struggle for power. [28]

World War I Edit

World War I, also known as the First World War and the Great War, was a global military conflict which took place primarily in Europe from 1914–1918. Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths. [30] Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilized from 1914–1918. [31] The immediate cause of the war was the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb citizen of Austria-Hungary and member of the Black Hand. The retaliation by Austria-Hungary against Serbia activated a series of alliances that set off a chain reaction of war declarations. Within a month, much of Europe was in a state of open warfare. [32]

During this War, 126 men received the Medal of Honor for their actions with five marines receiving both the Army and Navy versions of the medal for the same action. [24]

Occupation of Nicaragua Edit

The United States occupied Nicaragua from 1909 to 1933 and intervened in the country several times before that. The American interventions in Nicaragua were designed to prevent the construction of a trans-isthmian canal by any nation but the USA and stop endless civil war. Nicaragua assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Chamorro-Bryan Treaty. The occupation ended as Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan insurgent, led guerrilla bands against US troops. Furthermore, the onset of the Great Depression made it costly for the US to maintain occupation. [33]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes [34]
Christian F. Schilt Marine Corps First Lieutenant Quilali, Nicaragua Jan 6, 1928 – Jan 8, 1928 Observation Squadron 7-M For evacuating wounded Marines by plane while under fire
Donald L. Truesdale Marine Corps Corporal near Constancia, near Coco River, northern Nicaragua April 24, 1932 a Guardia Nacional Patrol Served under the name "Truesdale" before officially changing name to "Truesdell" on 25 July 1942. [35] Lost his hand while attempting to save his patrol from an accidentally activated grenade.

World War II Edit

World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. The conflicts joined from two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German and Russian invasion of Poland. [n 2] This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", erasing the distinction between civil and military resources. This resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history. [36] The worldwide financial cost of the war is estimated at a trillion 1944 U.S. dollars, [37] [38] making it the most costly war both in capital expenditures as well as loss of lives.

During this conflict 471 United States military personnel received the Medal of Honor, 273 of them posthumously. A total of 42 Medals of Honor, representing 9% of all awarded during World War II, were presented for action in just two battles – 15 for actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and 27 for actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima. Also a total of 21 (4.5% of all World War II Medals of Honor) were awarded to members of the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for actions in numerous battles across six different campaigns. [39] Additionally, the only Medal of Honor ever presented to a member of the United States Coast Guard (Douglas Albert Munro) was received for actions during this war. [24]

Korean War Edit

The Korean War was ignited by the 1950 invasion of South Korea when the North Korean Army moved south on June 25, 1950 to seize the rest of the Korean peninsula, which had been formally divided since 1948. The conflict was then expanded by the United States, China's and the Soviet Union's involvement. The main hostilities were during the period from June 25, 1950, until the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed on July 27, 1953.

In South Korea, the war is often called "6•25", or the 6•25 War (Korean: 6•25 전쟁), from the date of the start of the conflict or, more formally, Hanguk Jeonjaeng literally "Korean War". In North Korea, while commonly known as the Korean War, it is formally called the Fatherland Liberation War. In the early days of the war, United States President Harry Truman called the United Nations response a "police action". [40] The war is sometimes called "The Forgotten War" because it is a major conflict of the 20th century that gets less attention than World War II, which preceded it, and the controversial Vietnam War, which succeeded it. [41] In China, the conflict was known as the War to Resist America and Aid Korea, but is today commonly called the "Korean War". [42]

During this war, 146 Medals of Honor were awarded. [43]

Vietnam War Edit

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the American War, occurred from 1959 to April 30, 1975. The term "Vietnam Conflict" is often used to refer to events which took place between 1959 and April 30, 1975. The war was fought between the Communist-supported Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the United States supported Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam).

During the Vietnam War and in the following twelve months, 234 Medals of Honor were received and since 1978 a further 26 awards have been presented. Of the total of 260 awards, 174 were to the US Army, 15 to the US Navy, 57 to the USMC and 14 to the USAF. [24] The first medal of the war was presented to Roger Donlon for rescuing and administering first aid to several wounded soldiers and leading a group against an enemy force. [44] The first African American recipient of the war was Milton L. Olive, III who sacrificed himself to save others by smothering a grenade with his body. [45] Riley L. Pitts was killed after attacking an enemy force with rifle fire and grenades and was the first African American commissioned officer of the war to receive the medal. [46] Thomas Bennett was a conscientious objector who received the medal for his actions as a medic [47] three chaplains received the medal, including Vincent R. Capodanno, who served with the Marine Corps and was known as the Grunt Padre. [48]

USS Liberty incident Edit

The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a neutral United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, by Israeli jet fighter planes and motor torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 and wounded more than 170 crew members, and damaged the ship severely. [49]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes [50]
William L. McGonagle Navy Commander Eastern Mediterranean Sea June 8–9, 1967 USS Liberty (AGTR-5) Continued to lead his ship despite being severely wounded

Post-Vietnam Edit

Since the end of the Vietnam War, also known as the Vietnam Conflict and Second Indochina War, [51] [52] the United States was involved in a number of smaller conflicts during the end of the Cold War, including in Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere. [53] In the Post-Cold War, the United States was involved in conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and in the Balkans. [54] No Medals of Honor have been awarded for any of the aforementioned conflicts so far either proactively or retroactively. [55]

Somalia Edit

On October 3, 1993, during the Battle of Mogadishu, members of the U.S. Army Rangers and SOCOM's Delta Force executed a mission to capture members of Gen. Mohamed Farrah Aidid's forces. In the ensuing battle, two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters were shot down. As the second Blackhawk, containing Chief Warrant Officer Michael Durant, was hit and crashed, Master Sergeant Gary I. Gordon and Sergeant First Class Randall D. Shughart were in a nearby Blackhawk monitoring radio traffic. Gordon and Shughart were part of a sniper team for Delta Force that was assigned to watch over the operation, engaging targets from their position in the Blackhawk. As they monitored the downing of the second Blackhawk, it became evident that ground forces would not be available to secure the crash site and protect the critically injured crew of four, all of whom survived the crash. Gordon, the sniper team leader, requested that they be inserted at the 2nd crash site. His request was denied twice before finally being approved on the third request. The snipers were armed only with their sniper rifles and pistols.

Upon reaching the downed Blackhawk, which was under intense enemy fire, Gordon and Shughart pulled the crew from the wreckage and proceeded to set up a defensive perimeter. The snipers, assisted by the severely injured Durant, began to engage the attacking Somalis from the opposite side of the wreckage using assault rifles stored on the Blackhawk. Shughart and Gordon were eventually mortally wounded after nearly exhausting all available ammunition Durant, the only survivor, was taken hostage. According to Durant's account, 25 Somalis were killed and many more were wounded.

On Monday, May 23, 1994, President Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to the widows of Gordon and Shughart. [56] They are the only snipers to have received the Medal of Honor. [57] The film Black Hawk Down, based on the book of the same name, includes a narrative of the events.

War in Afghanistan Edit

The War in Afghanistan, which began on October 7, 2001, was launched by the United States, the United Kingdom, and NATO allies in response to the September 11 attacks. It was the beginning of the war on terror. The stated purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda and remove the Taliban regime which had provided support and safe harbor to al-Qaeda. [58] Since 2001, 17 American service-members have received the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan, four of them posthumously. Army Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti received his medal for attempting to rescue a wounded soldier at the cost of his own life. Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy received his for actions against insurgent forces and for sacrificing his life to call for help when his team had been overwhelmed by a much larger enemy force. [59] Army Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller's surviving family was presented with his medal on October 6, 2010. [60] The fourth recipient, Salvatore Giunta, received his for his actions in 2007 when he risked his life to save a wounded comrade. He is the first living recipient since the Vietnam War. A second living recipient, Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, received the medal from President Obama during a July 12, 2011 ceremony. [61] Marine Corps Corporal Dakota Meyer became the third living recipient awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Ganjgal. [62] [63] An additional twelve recipients, eleven living and one posthumous have been awarded the Medal since Meyer. There have been twelve awards to the U.S. Army, three to the U.S. Navy, two to the U.S. Marine Corps and one to the U.S. Air Force.

Iraq War Edit

The Iraq War, [64] known in the United States as Operation Iraqi Freedom, [65] Operation TELIC in the United Kingdom [66] was a conflict which began on March 20, 2003 with the United States-led invasion of Iraq by a multinational coalition composed of United States and United Kingdom troops supported by smaller contingents from Australia, Poland, as well as other nations. [67] Six service members have received the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq four from the Army, one from the Marine Corps and one from the Navy. Paul Ray Smith was the first to receive it for his actions on April 4, 2003 when he held enemy forces back, allowing other wounded soldiers to be evacuated to safety. The other five recipients were Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, Staff Sergeant Travis Atkins, Corporal Jason Dunham of the Marine Corps, Specialist Ross A. McGinnis of the Army and Master-at-Arms Second Class Michael A. Monsoor of the U.S. Navy. The latter four of these each received it after being killed while using their own bodies to smother explosive devices to protect their comrades. [68]

Before 1963, the Medal of Honor could be received for actions not involving direct combat with enemy or opposing foreign forces and 193 men earned the medal in this way. [24] Most of these medals were presented to members of the United States Navy for rescuing or attempting to rescue someone from drowning. [24] One of those awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing others was Fireman Second Class Telesforo Trinidad, who, as of 2020, has been the only Asian American sailor to be awarded the Medal of Honor. [69] In addition to the medals that were presented for lifesaving acts, one Medal of Honor was presented to William Halford, who sailed in a small boat for 31 days to get help for the other crew of USS Saginaw who had been stranded on an island. [70] Three explorers were also presented with the medal by special acts of Congress. Charles Lindbergh received the medal for flying the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean. Floyd Bennett and Richard Evelyn Byrd received it for their participation in what was thought to be the first successful heavier-than-air flight to the North Pole and back. One recipient, Adolphus W. Greely, received his for a lifetime of military service. [71]


Submarines: Medals of Honor

Throughout our nation’s history, eight different submariners have earned the Medal of Honor. Seven of the eight recipients were commanders of attack submarines in the Pacific during World War II. In that theater American submarines played a central role in defeating Imperial Japan, sinking more Japanese ships than any other platform. The costs for these aggressive patrols were high. Fifty-two U.S. Navy submarines would be lost during World War II – almost 1 out of every 5.5 submarines in operation. Learn more about these brave members of the Silent Service.

Medal of Honor Submariners


Submarine Related Medals of Honor

World War II Submarines in the Pacific: Location of Medal of Honor Actions

David Ramsey Map Collection (Japan From China by Richard Harrison, 1944)

The Medal of Honor & Submarines: Interesting Facts

1. Three of the seven Medals of Honor awarded to submariners during World War II were posthumous.

2. 22% of all U.S. submariners became casualties during World War II – the highest rate for any branch of the U.S. military.

3. All seven of the Medal of Honor submarine skippers during World War II were graduates of the United States Naval Academy.

4. Torpedoman 2nd Class Henry Breault is the only enlisted submariner to have earned the Medal of Honor. He also served in the Royal Navy prior to joining the U.S. Navy.

5. LT Albert David led a team of sailors into the sinking German submarine U-505. Not only did U-505 produce much valuable intelligence, but the submarine is now on display in a museum in Chicago.

6. Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, the infamous location where President Kennedy was assassinated, is named after Medal of Honor recipient Sam Dealey’s uncle.

7. Three of the top five submarine commanders (by tonnage of ships sunk) are Medal of Honor recipients – #1 O’Kane, #4 Eugene Fluckey, #5 Samuel Dealey.


Contents

During the first year of the Civil War (1861–1865), a proposal for a battlefield decoration for valor was submitted to Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, the Commanding General of the United States Army, by Lieutenant Colonel Edward D. Townsend, an assistant adjutant at the Department of War and Scott's chief of staff. Scott, however, was strictly against medals being awarded, which was the European tradition. After Scott retired in October 1861, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles adopted the idea of a decoration to recognize and honor distinguished naval service. [18]

On December 9, 1861, Iowa Senator James W. Grimes, Chairman on the Committee on Naval Affairs, [19] submitted Bill S. 82 (12 Stat. 329–330) [20] during the Second Session of the 37th Congress, "An Act to further promote the Efficiency of the Navy". The bill included a provision (Chap. 1, Sec. 7) for 200 "medals of honor", [21] "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seaman-like qualities during the present war, . " [22] On December 21, the bill was passed and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. Secretary Welles directed the Philadelphia Mint to design the new military decoration. [23] [24] [25] On May 15, 1862, the United States Department of the Navy ordered 175 medals ($1.85 each) from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia with "Personal Valor" inscribed on the back of each one. [26]

On February 15, 1862, Senator Henry Wilson, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Military Affairs and the Militia, introduced a resolution for a Medal of Honor for the Army. The resolution (37th Congress, Second Session Resolution No. 52, 12 Stat. 623–624) was approved by Congress and signed into law on July 12, 1862 ("A Resolution to provide for the Presentation of "Medals of Honor" to the Enlisted Men of the Army and Volunteer Forces who have distinguished, or may distinguish, themselves in Battle during the present Rebellion"). This measure provided for awarding a medal of honor "to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection." During the war, Townsend would have some medals delivered to some recipients with a letter requesting acknowledgment of the "Medal of Honor". The letter, written and signed by Townsend on behalf of the Secretary of War, stated that the resolution was "to provide for the presentation of medals of honor to the enlisted men of the army and volunteer forces who have distinguished or may distinguish themselves in battle during the present rebellion." [27] [c] By mid-November the Department of War contracted with Philadelphia silversmith William Wilson and Son, who had been responsible for the Navy's design, to prepare 2,000 medals for the Army ($2.00 each) to be cast at the mint. [28] The Army's version had "The Congress to" written on the back of the medal. Both versions were made of copper and coated with bronze, which "gave them a reddish tint". [29] [30]

On March 3, 1863, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration, and it was authorized for officers of the Army. [31] [32] On March 25, the Secretary of War presented the first Medals of Honor to six U.S. Army volunteers in his office. [33]

In 1896, the ribbon of the Army's version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned with all stripes being vertical. [34] Again, in 1904 the planchet of the Army's version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned by General George Lewis Gillespie. [34] The purpose of the redesign was to help distinguish the Medal of Honor from other medals, [35] particularly the membership insignia issued by the Grand Army of the Republic. [36]

In 1917, based on the report of the Medal of Honor Review Board, established by Congress in 1916, 911 recipients were stricken off the Army's Medal of Honor list because the medal had been awarded inappropriately. [37] Among them were William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Mary Edwards Walker. In 1977, Congress began reviewing numerous cases it reinstated the medals for Cody and four other civilian scouts on June 12, 1989. [38] [39] Walker's medal was restored in 1977.

A separate Coast Guard Medal of Honor was authorized in 1963, but not yet designed or awarded. [40]

A separate design for a version of the medal for the Department of the Air Force was created in 1956, authorized in 1960, and officially adopted on April 14, 1965. Previously, airmen of the U.S. Air Force received the Army's version of the medal. [41]

There are three versions of the Medal of Honor, one for each of the military departments of the Department of Defense (DoD): the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy, and Department of the Air Force. Members of the Coast Guard (Department of Homeland Security) are eligible to receive the Department of the Navy's version. Each medal is constructed differently and the components are made from gilding metals and red brass alloys with some gold plating, enamel, and bronze pieces. The United States Congress considered a bill in 2004 which would require the Medal of Honor to be made with 90% gold, the same composition as the lesser-known Congressional Gold Medal, but the measure was dropped. [42]

Department of the Army variant Edit

The Department of the Army's version is described by the Institute of Heraldry as "a gold five-pointed star, each point tipped with trefoils, 1 + 1 ⁄ 2 inches [3.8 cm] wide, surrounded by a green laurel wreath and suspended from a gold bar inscribed VALOR, surmounted by an eagle. In the center of the star, Minerva's head surrounded by the words UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. On each ray of the star is a green oak leaf. On the reverse is a bar engraved THE CONGRESS TO with a space for engraving the name of the recipient." [43] The pendant and suspension bar are made of gilding metal, with the eye, jump rings, and suspension ring made of red brass. [44] The finish on the pendant and suspension bar is hard enameled, gold plated, and rose gold plated, with polished highlights. [44]

Department of the Navy variant Edit

The Department of the Navy's version is described as "a five-pointed bronze star, tipped with trefoils containing a crown of laurel and oak. In the center is Minerva, personifying the United States, standing with her left hand resting on fasces and her right hand holding a shield emblazoned with the shield from the coat of arms of the United States. She repulses Discord, represented by snakes (originally, she was repulsing the snakes of secession). The medal is suspended from the flukes of an anchor. It is made of solid red brass, oxidized and buffed. [45]

Department of the Air Force variant Edit

The Department of the Air Force version is described as "within a wreath of green laurel, a gold five-pointed star, one point down, tipped with trefoils and each point containing a crown of laurel and oak on a green background. Centered on the star, an annulet of 34 stars is a representation of the head of the Statue of Liberty. The star is suspended from a bar inscribed with the word VALOR above an adaptation of Jupiter's thunderbolt from the Department of the Air Force's seal. The pendant is made of gilding metal. [46] The connecting bar, hinge, and pin are made of bronze. [46] The finish on the pendant and suspension bar is hard enameled, gold plated, and rose gold plated, with buffed relief. [46]

Historic versions Edit

The Medal of Honor has evolved in appearance over time. The upside-down star design of the Department of the Navy version's pendant adopted in early 1862 has not changed since its inception. The Army's 1862 version followed and was identical to the Department of the Navy's version except an eagle perched atop cannons was used instead of an anchor to connect the pendant to the suspension ribbon. The medals featured a female allegory of the Union, with a shield in her right hand that she used to fend off a crouching attacker and serpents. In her left hand, she held a fasces. There are 34 stars surrounding the scene, representing the number of states in the union at the time. [47] In 1896, the Army version changed the ribbon's design and colors due to misuse and imitation by nonmilitary organizations. [43] In 1904, the Army "Gillespie" version introduced a smaller redesigned star and the ribbon was changed to the light blue pattern with white stars seen today. [43] The 1904 Army version also introduced a bar with the word "Valor" above the star. [47] In 1913, the Department of the Navy version adopted the same ribbon pattern.

After World War I, the Department of the Navy decided to separate the Medal of Honor into two versions, one for combat and one for non-combat. This was an attempt to circumvent the requirement enacted in 1919 that recipients participate "in action involving actual conflict with the enemy," which would have foreclosed non-combat awards. [48] By treating the 1919 Medal of Honor as a separate award from its Civil War counterpart, this allowed the Department of the Navy to claim that it was not literally in violation of the 1919 law. [49] The original upside-down star was designated as the non-combat version and a new pattern of the medal pendant, in cross form, was designed by the Tiffany Company in 1919. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels selected Tiffany after snubbing the Commission of Fine Arts, which had submitted drawings that Daniels criticized as "un-American". [50] The "Tiffany Cross" was to be presented to a sailor or marine who "in action involving actual conflict with the enemy, distinguish[es] himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty". [51] Despite the "actual conflict" guidelines, the Tiffany Cross was awarded to Navy CDR (later RADM) Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett for their flight to the North Pole in 1926. The decision was controversial within the Navy's Bureau of Navigation (which handled personnel administration), and officials considered asking the attorney general of the United States for an advisory opinion on the matter. [52] Byrd himself apparently disliked the "Tiffany Cross", and eventually requested the alternate version of the medal from President Herbert Hoover in 1930. [53] The Tiffany Cross itself was not popular among recipients—one author reflected that it was "the most short-lived, legally contentious, and unpopular version of the Medal of Honor in American history." [50] In 1942, in response to a lawsuit, the Department of the Navy requested an amendment to expressly allow noncombat awards of the Medal of Honor. [54] When the amendment passed, the Department of the Navy returned to using only the original 1862 inverted 5-point star design. [55]

In 1944, the suspension ribbons for both versions were replaced with the now-familiar neck ribbon. [43] When the Department of the Air Force's version was designed in 1956, it incorporated similar elements and design from the Department of the Army version. At the Department of the Air Force leadership's insistence, the new medal depicted the Statue of Liberty's image in place of Minerva on the medal and changed the connecting device from an eagle to Jupiter's thunderbolt flanked with wings as found on the Department of the Air Force's seal. [56] [57] [58]

1919–42 Navy "Tiffany Cross" version

On October 23, 2002, Pub.L. 107–248 (text) (pdf) was enacted, modifying 36 U.S.C. § 903, authorizing a Medal of Honor Flag to be presented to each person to whom a Medal of Honor is awarded. In the case of a posthumous award, the flag will be presented to whomever the Medal of Honor is presented to, which in most cases will be the primary next of kin of the deceased awardee. [67] [68]

The flag was based on a concept by retired U.S. Army Special Forces First Sergeant Bill Kendall of Jefferson, Iowa, [69] who in 2001, designed a flag to honor Medal of Honor recipient Army Air Forces Captain Darrell Lindsey, a B-26 pilot from Jefferson who was killed in action during World War II. Kendall's design of a light blue field emblazoned with 13 white five-pointed stars was nearly identical to that of Sarah LeClerc's of the Institute of Heraldry. LeClerc's gold-fringed flag, ultimately accepted as the official flag, does not include the words "Medal of Honor" as written on Kendall's flag. The color of the field and the 13 white stars, arranged in the form of a three-bar chevron, consisting of two chevrons of five stars and one chevron of three stars, [2] emulate the suspension ribbon of the Medal of Honor. The flag has no defined proportions. [70]

The first Medal of Honor Flag recipient was U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, whose flag was presented posthumously. President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor and Flag to the family of Smith during the award ceremony for him in the White House on April 4, 2005. [71]

A special Medal of Honor Flag presentation ceremony was held for over 60 living Medal of Honor recipients on board the USS Constitution in September 2006. [72]

There are two distinct protocols for awarding the Medal of Honor. The first and most common is nomination and approval through the chain of command of the service member. The second method is nomination by a member of the U.S. Congress, generally at the request of a constituent. In both cases, if the proposal is outside the time limits for the recommendation, approval to waive the time limit requires a special Act of Congress. The Medal of Honor is presented by the President on behalf of, and in the name of, the Congress. [73] Since 1980, nearly all Medal of Honor recipients—or in the case of posthumous awards, the next of kin—have been personally decorated by the president. [74] [75] [76] Since 1941, more than half of the Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously. [77]

Evolution of criteria Edit

  • 19th century: Several months after President Abraham Lincoln signed Public Resolution 82 into law on December 21, 1861, for a Navy medal of honor, a similar resolution was passed in July 1862 for an Army version of the medal. Six U.S. Army soldiers who hijacked a Confederatelocomotive named The General in 1862 were the first Medal of Honor recipients [78]James J. Andrews led the raid. He was caught and hanged as a U.S. spy, but as a civilian, he was not eligible to receive the medal. Many Medals of Honor awarded in the 19th century were associated with "saving the flag" (and country), not just for patriotic reasons, but because the U.S. flag was a primary means of battlefield communication at the time. Because no other military decoration was authorized during the Civil War, some seemingly less exceptional and notable actions were recognized by a Medal of Honor during that conflict.
  • 20th century: Early in the twentieth century, the Department of the Navy awarded many Medals of Honor for peacetime bravery. For instance, in 1901, John Henry Helms aboard USS Chicago was awarded the medal for saving the ship's cook from drowning. Seven sailors aboard USS Iowa were awarded the medal after the ship's boiler exploded on January 25, 1904. Richard Byrd and Floyd Bennett were awarded the medal—combat ("Tiffany") version despite the existence then of a non-combat form of the Navy medal—for the 1926 flight they claim reached the North Pole. [79] And Admiral Thomas J. Ryan was awarded the medal for saving a woman from the burning Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan, following the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake. [80] Between 1919 and 1942, the Department of the Navy issued two separate versions of the Medal of Honor, one for acts related to combat and one for non-combat bravery. The criteria for the award tightened during World War I for the Army version of the Medal of Honor, while the Navy version retained a non-combat provision until 1963. In an Act of Congress of July 9, 1918, the War Department version of the medal required that the recipient "distinguish himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty", and also required that the act of valor be performed "in action involving actual conflict with an enemy". [81] This followed shortly after the results of the Army Medal of Honor Review Board, which struck 911 medals from the Medal of Honor list in February 1917 for lack of basic prerequisites. [37] These included the members of the 27th Maine erroneously awarded the medal for reenlisting to guard the capital during the Civil War, 29 members of Abraham Lincoln's funeral detail, and six civilians, including Buffalo Bill Cody (restored along with four other scouts in 1989) [82] and a female doctor, Mary Edwards Walker, who had cared for the sick (this last was restored posthumously in 1977). [83]
  • World War II: As a result of lawsuits, the Department of the Navy requested the Congress expressly authorize non-combat medals in the text of the authorizing statute, since the Department had been awarding non-combat medals with questionable legal backing that had caused it much embarrassment. [54] The last non-combat Navy Medal of Honor was awarded in 1945, although the Department of the Navy attempted to award a non-combat Medal of Honor as late as the Korean War. [84] Official accounts vary, but generally, the Medal of Honor for combat was known as the "Tiffany Cross", after the company that designed the medal. The Tiffany Cross was first awarded in 1919, but was unpopular partly because of its design as well as a lower gratuity than the Navy's original medal. [50] The Tiffany Cross Medal of Honor was awarded at least three times for non-combat. By a special authorized Act of Congress, the medal was presented to Byrd and Bennett (see above). [85][86] In 1942, the Department of the Navy reverted to a single Medal of Honor, although the statute still contained a loophole allowing the award for both "action involving actual conflict with the enemy" or "in the line of his profession". [87] Arising from these criteria, approximately 60 percent of the medals earned during and after World War II have been awarded posthumously. [citation needed]
  • Public Law 88–77, July 25, 1963: The requirements for the Medal of Honor were standardized among all the services, requiring that a recipient had "distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty." [88] Thus, the act removed the loophole allowing non-combat awards to Navy personnel. The act also clarified that the act of valor must occur during one of three circumstances: [89]
  1. While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States
  2. While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.
  3. While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. [90][91]

Congress drew the three permutations of combat from President Kennedy's executive order of April 25, 1962, which previously added the same criteria to the Purple Heart. On August 24, Kennedy added similar criteria for the Bronze Star Medal. [92] [93] The amendment was necessary because Cold War armed conflicts did not qualify for consideration under previous statutes such as the 1918 Army Medal of Honor Statute that required valor "in action involving actual conflict with an enemy", [94] since the United States has not formally declared war since World War II as a result of the provisions of the United Nations Charter. [ citation needed ] According to congressional testimony by the Army's Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, the services were seeking authority to award the Medal of Honor and other valor awards retroactive to July 1, 1958, in areas such as Berlin, Lebanon, Quemoy and Matsu Islands, Taiwan Straits, Congo, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba. [92]

The four specific statutory sections authorizing the medal, as last amended on August 13, 2018, are as follows: [90]

  • Army: 10 U.S.C.§ 7271
  • Navy and Marine Corps: 10 U.S.C.§ 8291
  • Air Force and Space Force: 10 U.S.C.§ 9271
  • Coast Guard: 14 U.S.C.§ 2732 A version is authorized but it has never been awarded. [d][40]

The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who while a member of the [Army] [naval service] [Air Force] [Coast Guard], distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. [95]

Privileges and courtesies Edit

The Medal of Honor confers special privileges on its recipients. By law, recipients have several benefits: [96] [97]

  • Each Medal of Honor recipient may have his or her name entered on the Medal of Honor Roll (38 U.S.C.§ 1560).
  • Each person whose name is placed on the Medal of Honor Roll is certified to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs as being entitled to receive a monthly pension above and beyond any military pensions or other benefits for which they may be eligible. The pension is subject to cost-of-living increases as of December 1, 2018 [update] , it is $1,366.81 a month. [98]
  • Enlisted recipients of the Medal of Honor are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance. [99]
  • Recipients receive special entitlements to air transportation under the provisions of DOD Regulation 4515.13-R. This benefit allows the recipient to travel as he or she deems fit, and allows the recipient's dependents to travel either overseas–overseas, overseas–continental US, or continental US–overseas when accompanied by the recipient. [100]
  • Special identification cards and commissary and exchange privileges are provided for Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible dependents. [101]
  • Recipients are granted eligibility for interment at Arlington National Cemetery, if not otherwise eligible. [102]
  • Fully qualified children of recipients automatically appointed to any of the United States service academies. [103]
  • Recipients receive a ten percent increase in retired pay. [104]
  • Those awarded the medal after October 23, 2002, receive a Medal of Honor Flag. The law specified that all 103 living prior recipients as of that date would receive a flag. [105]
  • Recipients receive an invitation to all future presidential inaugurations and inaugural balls. [106]
  • As with all medals, retired personnel may wear the Medal of Honor on "appropriate" civilian clothing. Regulations specify that recipients of the Medal of Honor are allowed to wear the uniform "at their pleasure" with standard restrictions on political, commercial, or extremist purposes (other former members of the armed forces may do so only at certain ceremonial occasions). [107]
  • Most states (40) offer a special license plate for certain types of vehicles to recipients at little or no cost to the recipient. [108][109] The states that do not offer Medal of Honor specific license plate offer special license plates for veterans for which recipients may be eligible. [110]

Saluting Edit

  • Although not required by law or military regulation, [111] members of the uniformed services are encouraged to render salutes to recipients of the Medal of Honor as a matter of respect and courtesy regardless of rank or status, whether or not they are in uniform. [112] This is one of the few instances where a living member of the military will receive salutes from members of a higher rank. According to paragraph 1.6.1.1 of Air Force Instruction 1-1, the United States Air Force requires that salutes be rendered to Medal of Honor recipients. [113]
  • 1904: The Army redesigned its Medal of Honor, largely a reaction to the copying of the Medal of Honor by various veterans organizations, such as the Grand Army of the Republic. [114][115] To prevent the making of copies of the medal, Brigadier General George Gillespie, Jr., a Medal of Honor recipient from the Civil War, applied for and obtained a patent for the new design. [115][116] General Gillespie received the patent on November 22, 1904, [116] and he transferred it the following month to the Secretary of War at the time, William Howard Taft. [115]
  • 1923: Congress passed a statute (the year before the 20-year term of the patent would expire)—which would later be codified at 18 U.S.C. §704—prohibiting the unauthorized wearing, manufacturing, or sale of military medals or decorations. [117] In 1994, Congress amended the statute to permit an enhanced penalty if the offense involved the Medal of Honor. [118]
  • 2006: The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was enacted. [119] The law amended 18 U.S.C. § 704 to make it a federal criminal offense for a person to deliberately state falsely that he or she had been awarded a military decoration, service medal, or badge. [120][121][122] The law also permitted an enhanced penalty for someone who falsely claimed to have been awarded the Medal of Honor. [122]
  • June 28, 2012: In the case of United States v. Alvarez, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005's criminalization of the making of false claims of having been awarded a military medal, decoration, or badge was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. [123] The case involved an elected official in California, Xavier Alvarez, who had falsely stated at a public meeting that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, even though he had never served in any branch of the armed forces. The Supreme Court's decision did not specifically address the constitutionality of the older portion of the statute which prohibits the unauthorized wearing, manufacturing, or sale of military medals or decorations. Under the law, the unauthorized wearing, manufacturing, or sale of the Medal of Honor is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and imprisonment of up to one year. [124]
  • June 3, 2013: President Barack Obama signed into law a revised version of the Stolen Valor Act, making it a federal offense for someone to represent themselves as awardees of medals for valor in order to receive benefits or other privileges (such as grants, educational benefits, housing, etc.) that are set aside for veterans and other service members. [125] As of 2017, there were only two reported arrests and prosecutions under the law, leading at least 22 states to enact their own legislation to criminalize stolen valor amid claims that the federal law was virtually unenforced. [126]

Medal of Honor recipients may apply in writing to the headquarters of the service branch of the medal awarded for a replacement or display Medal of Honor, ribbon, and appurtenance (Medal of Honor flag) without charge. Primary next of kin may also do the same and have any questions answered in regard to the Medal of Honor that was awarded. [127]

  • The first Medals of Honor were awarded and presented to six U.S. Army soldiers ("Andrews Raiders") on March 25, 1863, by Secretary of WarEdwin Stanton, in his office of the War Department. Private Jacob Parrott, a U.S. Army volunteer from Ohio, became the first actual Medal of Honor recipient, awarded for his volunteering for and participation in a raid on a Confederate train in Big Shanty, Georgia, on April 12, 1862, during the American Civil War. After the medal presentations, the six decorated soldiers met with President Lincoln in the White House. [24][128]
  • The first U.S. Navy sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor on April 3, 1863. 41 sailors received the award, with 17 awards for action during the Battle of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. [129]
  • The first Marines awarded the Medal of Honor were John F. Mackie and Pinkerton R. Vaughn on July 10, 1863 [130] Mackie for USS Galena on May 15, 1862 and Vaughn for USS Mississippi on March 14, 1863.
  • The first, and so far only, Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor was Signalman First Class Douglas Munro. He was posthumously awarded it on May 27, 1943, for evacuating 500 Marines under fire on September 27, 1942, during the Battle of Guadalcanal. [131]
  • The only woman awarded the Medal of Honor is Mary Edwards Walker, who was a civilian Army surgeon during the American Civil War. She received the award in 1865 after the Judge Advocate General of the Army determined that she could not be given a retroactive commission, and so President Andrew Johnson directed that "the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her." [132][133]
  • The first black Medal of Honor recipients were sixteen Army soldiers and sixteen Navy sailors that fought during the Civil War. The first award was announced on April 6, 1865, to twelve black soldiers from the five regiments of U.S. Colored Troops who fought at New Market Heights outside of Richmond on September 29, 1864. [47]

The 1917 Medal of Honor Board deleted 911 awards, but only 910 names from the Army's Medal of Honor list, [134] including awards to Mary Edwards Walker, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and the first of two awards issued February 10, 1887, to George W. Mindil, who retained his award issued October 25, 1893. None of the 910 "deleted" recipients were ordered to return their medals, although, on the question of whether the recipients could continue to wear their medals, the Judge Advocate General advised the Medal of Honor Board `the Army was not obligated to police the matter. Walker continued to wear her medal until her death. Although some sources claim that President Jimmy Carter formally restored her medal posthumously in 1977, [133] this action was actually taken unilaterally by the Army's Board for Correction of Military Records. [135] The Army Board for Correction of Military Records also restored the Medals of Honor of Buffalo Bill and four other civilian scouts in 1989. [136]

  • Sixty-one Canadians who served in the United States Armed Forces, mostly during the American Civil War. Since 1900, four Canadians have received the medal. [137] The only Canadian-born, naturalized U.S. citizen to receive the medal for heroism during the Vietnam War was Peter C. Lemon. [138]

While the governing statute for the Army's Medal of Honor (10 U.S.C. § 6241), beginning in 1918, explicitly stated that a recipient must be "an officer or enlisted man of the Army", "distinguish himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty", and perform an act of valor "in action involving actual conflict with an enemy", [81] exceptions have been made:

    , 1927, civilian pilot, and U.S. Army Air Corps reserve officer. [139] Lindbergh's medal was authorized by a special act of Congress. [81][140]
  • Major General (Retired) Adolphus Greely was awarded the medal in 1935, on his 91st birthday, "for his life of splendid public service". The result of a special act of Congress similar to Lindbergh's, Greely's medal citation did not reference any acts of valor. [141]
  • Foreign unknown recipients include five WWI Unknowns: the Belgian Unknown Soldier, the British Unknown Warrior, the French Unknown Soldier, the Italian Unknown Soldier, and the Romanian Unknown Soldier. [142]
  • U.S. unknown recipients include one each from four wars: World War I, [143] World War II, [144] Korea, [145] and Vietnam. [146] The Vietnam Unknown was later identified as Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie through the use of DNA identification. Blassie's family asked for his Medal of Honor, but the Department of Defense denied the request in 1998. According to Undersecretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, the medal was awarded symbolically to all Vietnam unknowns, not to Blassie specifically. [147]

Note that the number of Air Force recipients does not count recipients from its pre-19 September 1947 Army-related predecessor organizations.

Double recipients Edit

Nineteen service members have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice. [149] The first double Medal of Honor recipient was Thomas Custer (brother of George Armstrong Custer) for two separate actions that took place several days apart during the American Civil War. [150]

Five "double recipients" were awarded both the Army's and Navy's Medal of Honor for the same action, with all five of these occurrences taking place during World War I. [151] No modern recipients have more than one medal because of laws passed for the Army in 1918, and for the Navy in 1919, which stipulated that "no more than one medal of honor . . . shall be issued to any one person," although subsequent awards were authorized by issuance of bars or other devices in lieu of the medal itself. [152] The statutory bar was finally repealed in the FY2014 defense bill, at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, meaning that recipients can now be issued more than one medal. However, no more than one medal may be issued for the same action. [153]

To date, the maximum number of Medals of Honor earned by any service member has been two. [40] The last living individual to be awarded two Medals of Honor was John J. Kelly 3 Oct 1918 the last individual to receive two Medals of Honor for two different actions was Smedley Butler, in 1914 and 1915.

Name Service Rank [e] War(s) Notes
Frank Baldwin Army First Lieutenant, Captain American Civil War, Indian Wars
Smedley Butler Marine Corps Major General Veracruz, Haiti
John Cooper Navy Coxswain American Civil War
Louis Cukela Marine Corps Sergeant World War I Awarded both Navy and Army versions for same action.
Thomas Custer Army Second Lieutenant American Civil War Battle of Namozine Church on 3 April and Battle of Sayler's Creek on 6 April 1865.
Daniel Daly Marine Corps Private, Gunnery Sergeant Boxer Rebellion, Haiti [154]
Henry Hogan Army First Sergeant Indian Wars
Ernest A. Janson Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant World War I Both awarded for same action. Received the Army MOH under the name Charles F. Hoffman.
John J. Kelly Marine Corps Private World War I Both awarded for same action.
John King Navy Water tender Peacetime 1901 and 1909
Matej Kocak Marine Corps Sergeant World War I Both awarded for same action.
John Lafferty Navy Fireman, First Class Fireman American Civil War, peacetime
John C. McCloy Navy Coxswain, Chief Boatswain Boxer Rebellion, Veracruz
Patrick Mullen Navy Boatswain's Mate American Civil War
John H. Pruitt Marine Corps Corporal World War I Both awarded for same action.
Robert Sweeney Navy Ordinary Seaman Peacetime 1881 and 1883
Albert Weisbogel Navy Captain of the Mizzen Top Peacetime 1874 and 1876
Louis Williams Navy Captain of the Hold Peacetime 1883 and 1884. Also known as Ludwig Andreas Olsen.
William Wilson Army Sergeant Indian Wars

Related recipients Edit

Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and Douglas MacArthur are the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The only other such pairing is Theodore Roosevelt (awarded in 2001) and Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

Five pairs of brothers have received the Medal of Honor:

    and William Black, in the American Civil War. The Blacks are the first brothers to be so honored. and Henry Capehart, in the American Civil War, the latter for saving a drowning man while under fire. and Julien Gaujot. The Gaujots also have the unique distinction of receiving their medals for actions in separate conflicts, Antoine in the Philippine–American War and Julien when he crossed the Mexican border to rescue Mexicans and Americans in a Mexican Revolution skirmish. and Willard Miller, during the same naval action in the Spanish–American War. , in the same American Civil War action.

Another notable pair of related recipients are Admiral Frank Friday Fletcher (rear admiral at the time of award) and his nephew, Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher (lieutenant at the time of award), both awarded for actions during the United States occupation of Veracruz.

Late awards Edit

Since 1979, 86 late Medal of Honor awards have been presented for actions from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. In addition, five recipients whose names were not included on the Army's Medal of Honor Roll in 1917 had their awards restored. [155] A 1993 study commissioned by the U.S. Army investigated "racial disparity" in the awarding of medals. [156] At the time, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to U.S. soldiers of African descent who served in World War II. After an exhaustive review, the study recommended that ten Distinguished Service Cross recipients be awarded the Medal of Honor. On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to seven of these World War II veterans, six of them posthumously and one to former Second Lieutenant Vernon Baker. [157]

In 1998, a similar study of Asian Americans resulted in President Bill Clinton presenting 22 Medals of Honor in 2000. [158] Twenty of these medals went to U.S. soldiers of Japanese descent of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT) who served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II. [158] [159] One of these Medal of Honor recipients was Senator Daniel Inouye, a former U.S. Army officer in the 442nd RCT. [157]

In 2005, President George W. Bush presented the Medal of Honor to Tibor Rubin, a Hungarian-born American Jew who was a Holocaust survivor of World War II and enlisted U.S. infantryman and prisoner of war in the Korean War, whom many believed to have been overlooked because of his religion. [160]

On April 11, 2013, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army chaplain Captain Emil Kapaun for his actions as a prisoner of war during the Korean War. [161] This follows other awards to Army Sergeant Leslie H. Sabo, Jr. for conspicuous gallantry in action on May 10, 1970, near Se San, Cambodia, during the Vietnam War [162] and to Army Private First Class Henry Svehla and Army Private First Class Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano for their heroic actions during the Korean War. [163]

As a result of a Congressionally mandated review to ensure brave acts were not overlooked due to prejudice or discrimination, on March 18, 2014, President Obama upgraded Distinguished Service Crosses to Medals of Honor for 24 Hispanic, Jewish, and black individuals—the "Valor 24"—for their actions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. [164] Three were still living at the time of the ceremony. [164]

On November 6, 2014, President Obama presented the Medal of Honor posthumously to First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing for actions on July 3, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg. Lieutenant Cushing's award is the last Medal of Honor to be presented to a soldier in the American Civil War, after 151 years since the date of the action. [165]

During the Civil War, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton promised a Medal of Honor to every man in the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who extended his enlistment beyond the agreed-upon date. The Battle of Gettysburg was imminent, and 311 men of the regiment volunteered to serve until the battle was resolved. The remaining men returned to Maine, but with the Union victory at Gettysburg the 311 volunteers soon followed. The volunteers arrived back in Maine in time to be discharged with the men who had returned earlier. Since there seemed to be no official list of the 311 volunteers, the War Department exacerbated the situation by forwarding 864 medals to the commanding officer of the regiment. The commanding officer only issued the medals to the volunteers who stayed behind and retained the others on the grounds that, if he returned the remainder to the War Department, the War Department would try to reissue the medals. [166]

In 1916, a board of five Army generals on the retired list convened under act of law to review every Army Medal of Honor awarded. The board was to report on any Medals of Honor awarded or issued "for any cause other than distinguished conduct by an officer or enlisted man in action involving actual conflict with an enemy." [37] The commission, led by Nelson A. Miles, identified 911 awards for causes other than distinguished conduct. This included the 864 medals awarded to members of the 27th Maine regiment 29 servicemen who served as Abraham Lincoln's funeral guard six civilians, including Mary Edwards Walker and Buffalo Bill Cody and 12 others. [167] [168] Walker's medal was restored by the Army Board for Correction of Military Records in 1977, an action that is often attributed to President Jimmy Carter in error. [169] Cody and four other civilian scouts who rendered distinguished service in action, and who were therefore considered by the board to have fully earned their medals, also had their medals restored by the Army Board for Correction of Military Records in 1989. [170] The report issued by the Medal of Honor review board in 1917 was reviewed by the Judge Advocate General, who also advised that the War Department should not seek the return of the revoked medals from the recipients identified by the board. In the case of recipients who continued to wear the medal, the War Department was advised to take no action to enforce the statute. [171]

The following decorations, in one degree or another, bear similar names to the Medal of Honor, but are entirely separate awards with different criteria for issuance:

    : decoration of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, which was later merged into the United States Coast Guard : awarded posthumously for a single action to four recipients : the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States (along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom) : the highest honor for NASA astronauts : the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States (along with the Congressional Gold Medal)

Footnotes Edit

  1. ^ As amended by Act of July 25, 1963
  2. ^ For service in the American Civil War to a U.S. Army recipient.
  3. ^ Quote from War Dept. return receipt letter dated March 1865 signed by asst. adjutant Edward Townsend that accompanied the Medal of Honor delivered to Private Franklin Johndro for his act on Sept. 30, 1864, capturing 49 armed Confederate soldiers.
  4. ^ U.S. Coast Guard Signalman First Class Douglas Albert Munro was posthumously awarded the Navy version of the Medal of Honor for bravery at Guadalcanal on September 27, 1942.
  5. ^ Rank refers to rank held at time of Medal of Honor action.

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  317. ^Collier & Del Calzo 2006, p. 16
  318. ^ 66th Congress 1st Session, Document 58, General Staff and Medals of Honor, ordered to be printed 23 July 1919.

Works cited Edit

  • This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History. [not specific enough to verify]
  • Collier, Peter Del Calzo, Nick (2006). Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty (2nd ed.). New York: Workman Publishing Company. ISBN978-1-57965-314-9 . OCLC852666368.
  • Mears, Dwight S. (2018). The Medal of Honor: The Evolution of America's Highest Military Decoration. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. ISBN9780700626656 . OCLC1032014828.
  • Mikaelian, Allen Wallace, Mike (2003). Medal of Honor: Profiles of America's Military Heroes from the Civil War to the Present. New York: Hyperion Books. ISBN978-0-7868-8576-3 .
  • Tucker, Spencer (2012). Almanac of American Military History. 1. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN978-1-59884-530-3 .
  • Broadwater, Robert P. (2007). Civil War Medal of Honor Recipients: A Complete Illustrated Record. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co. ISBN978-0-7864-3223-3 . OCLC144767966.
  • Collier, Peter Del Calzo, Nick (2011). Medal of Honor: Portraits of Valor Beyond the Call of Duty (3rd ed.). New York: Artisan. ISBN978-1-57965-462-7 . OCLC712124011.
  • Curtis, Arthur S. (1969). 37 Greatest Navy Heroes: Including the Story of Marvin Shields, First Seabee Medal of Honor Hero (Vietnam). Washington, D.C. OCLC10660663.
  • DeKever, Andrew J. (2008). Here Rests in Honored Glory: Life Stories of Our Country's Medal of Honor Recipients. Bennigton, Vermont: Merriam Press. ISBN978-1-4357-1749-7 . OCLC233835859.
  • Foster, Frank C. (2002). A Complete Guide to All United States Military Medals, 1939 to Present. Fountain Inn, S.C.: MOA Press. ISBN978-1-884452-18-5 . OCLC54755134.
  • Hanna, Charles W. (2010). black Recipients of the Medal of Honor: A Biographical Dictionary, Civil War Through Vietnam War. Jefferson, N.C.: Mcfarland. ISBN978-0-7864-4911-8 . OCLC476156919.
  • Johnson, John L. (2007). Every Night & Every Morn: Portraits of Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, African-American, and Native-American Recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Winston-Salem, NC: Tristan Press. ISBN978-0-9799572-0-8 . OCLC180773640.
  • Willbanks, James H. (2011). America's Heroes: Medal of Honor Recipients from the Civil War to Afghanistan . Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. ISBN978-1-59884-394-1 . OCLC662405903.

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History of National Medal of Honor Day:

Going on top of and on the far side, the decision of duty within the military deserves all the awards we will bestow. After all, it’s these brave those who secured and still shield the freedoms we tend to unambiguously fancy during this country, one thing we frequently view as granted. Today, we’ll cross-check the history of the award to higher honor people who earn it.

Though the primary request for an accolade of courageousness was submitted in 1861, at the onset of the warfare, the general-in-chief rejected the proposal on the premise that an accolade of courageousness merely measured too European. It wasn’t till once he retired in late 1861 that the overall of the Navy adopted the concept for his branch, and therefore the Navy shortly once ordered nearly 200 medals from the mint in City of Brotherly Love.

After Lincoln approved a US Navy accolade of courageousness in Dec of 1861, the U. S. Army accolade of Honor was approved but a year later. It had been in 1863, throughout the warfare, that the primary accolade of Honor was given. A Union marauding party had recently destroyed Confederate railways and vital transportation in Tennessee and Georgia – these six men became the primary recipients of the award.

During the warfare, 400th of the Medals of Honor that are given up thus far were distributed. Throughout this point, the primary Black recipients of the accolade of Honor were designated sixteen Navy and sixteen Army troopers were honored for his or her bravery throughout the warfare. The sole girl ever awarded the accolade of Honor was Virgin Mary Edwards Walker, United Nations agency served throughout the warfare as a sawbones within the Army.

The Army accolade went through a planning method in 1904 however otherwise has remained mostly unchanged for the bulk of its existence. In 1917, 911 recipients, together with promoters, had their medals rescinded, as they were awarded unsuitably. In 1977, AN investigation of this action began, and therefore the accolade was improved to promoter and 4 different civilian scouts in 1989.

Other branches of the military are selected, however, just some came to fruition. The Air Force with success created their version of the accolade of Honor that was formally adopted on April 14, 1965, once having been licensed in 1960. An analogous honor for the Coast Guard was selected in 1963, the ac colade has ne’er been awarded. Last, Trump awarded the accolade of Honor to Sergeant Matthew O. Williams, for acts of conspicuous gallantry in 2008.


She Was The Only Woman To Get The Medal Of Honor

NPR librarian Kee Malesky has been dubbed "the source of all human knowledge " by NPR's Scott Simon. The author of the books All Facts Considered and Learn Something New Every Day: 365 Facts to Fulfill Your Life, she shares her adventures from the reference desk in this series called Kee Facts.

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In all of American history, only one woman has been awarded the Medal of Honor — and Congress tried to take it back.

Her name was Mary Edwards Walker, and she was a doctor at a time when female physicians were rare. She graduated from the Syracuse Medical College, and at the outbreak of the Civil War traveled to Washington with the intention of joining the Army as a medical officer. When she was rejected, she volunteered as a surgeon and served in that capacity for various units through the war years, continually agitating for a commission.

Walker was captured by the Confederate Army in April 1864 and held for a few months at Castle Thunder prison near Richmond, Va. Finally, that October, she was given a commission as acting assistant surgeon, the first female physician in the U.S. Army.

President Andrew Johnson signed a bill awarding Walker the Medal of Honor in 1865, because she "has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war."

She continued to practice medicine after the war, and took up the cause of women's rights with a passion. Walker had long preferred to wear men's clothing, and was even arrested several times for "masquerading" as a man.

In 1917, Congress changed the criteria for awarding the Medal of Honor, restricting it to those who had engaged in actual combat with an enemy. Hundreds of medals, including Walker's, were rescinded. She refused to return hers, however, and wore it proudly until her death in 1919.

Fifty-eight years later, President Jimmy Carter reinstated Walker's Medal of Honor, recognizing her "distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex."


Air Force helicopter pilot rescues Special Forces team

While returning to base from another mission, Air Force 1st Lt. James P. Fleming and four other Bell UH-1F helicopter pilots get an urgent message from an Army Special Forces team pinned down by enemy fire.

Although several of the other helicopters had to leave the area because of low fuel, Lieutenant Fleming and another pilot pressed on with the rescue effort. The first attempt failed because of intense ground fire, but refusing to abandon the Army green berets, Fleming managed to land and pick up the team. When he safely arrived at his base near Duc Co, it was discovered that his aircraft was nearly out of fuel. Lieutenant Fleming was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.


Top Ten Medal of Honor Franchise Facts - News

This week saw the release of the new Medal of Honor game, which takes the venerable shooter franchise out of World War II and places it firmly in a far more contemporary setting. When looking back at the series, one can find a wealth of awesome information about its origins, heavy hitters and sales. I have compiled a list of ten interesting facts that you guys might like, good or bad. These are, as usual, in no particular order.

MoH was Created by Steven Spielberg, until he abandoned it.

Despite his failings with the Atari 2600 E.T. game (which he just basically put his name on), famed director Steven Spielberg recognized gaming as a new emerging art form, and it was a matter of time before he helmed another game series. In the height of the &ldquohey remember World War II&rdquo fad of over a decade ago, Spielberg decided to create a realistic World War II shooter in the vein of movies such as Saving Private Ryan. He then sold his game company, DreamWorks Interactive, to EA and a franchise was born.

In an interview with Reuters, he even looked back at what could have been:

"The smartest and dumbest thing I ever did was to sell my company to EA," said Spielberg. "Medal of Honor" was almost done and we made the decision to sell Dreamworks Interactive to Electronic Arts and had we not sold, we would have been able to stay in business just based on the success of "Medal of Honor."

There were a few Cancelled MoH Games.

In the history of the Medal of Honor series, only two games are known to have been cancelled:

The first was Medal of Honor: Fighter Command, a flight-simulation game that was to be released for the PlayStation 2. Looking at old press releases it was going to boast a heavy multiplayer campaign and give folks the option to choose which post to man whether it be pilot or tail gunner.

&ldquoCreated by the writer and producer of the original Medal of Honor, Fighter Command continues the tradition of recreating the experience of intense WWII combat, but this time the battle is fought in the air. Extensive hands-on research with the actual planes of the era and consultation with the pilots who flew them delivers the authentic sights and sounds of the flight combat experience, immersing the player into a world they've only read about in books or seen in movies.&rdquo

The next game was Medal of Honor: Rising Sun 2. It was cancelled due to a mixed response for its precursor EA chose to take a new direction afterwards.

Gamepro and Joyride Studios have released action figures for the series including this one:

There were also figures of George Bush, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney given away at a convention! Joy Ride is perhaps best known for its wide array of popular Halo Franchise action figures, a series that continues to grow every year.

World Record winning series!

The franchise has won a Guinness World&rsquos Record! In the book, Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008, Medal of Honor was awarded with a world record for "Best selling FPS franchise." This is no shock based on the sheer amount of games out for the series! Which brings us to:

The Medal of Honor franchise has sold 31 million units to date worldwide with over half of that in the United States alone. To keep this in perspective it has made just about the same amount of money as the Halo franchise.

The soundtrack for the original MoH game was composed by Grammy winning composer Michael Giacchino, who also did work for Ratatouille, Up, Lost, and even rival shooter franchise Call of Duty.

Medal of Honor was the first ever non-fantasy World War II First Person Shooter.

Medal of Honor was the first ever non-fantasy World War II First Person Shooter. Before that time there were many Games like Mortyr, Wolfenstein, and Spear of Destiny that allowed one to sneak behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany with one catch: many of these games were heavily based on either the Occult or Science Fiction. One look at the armored &ldquoSuper-Hitler&rdquo in Wolfenstein will break any sense of realism. The genre came into its own with the very first Medal of Honor game, and ushered in a new era of historical shooters.

Move over Samus, the overlooked heroine - Manon.

When looking for game characters to compile a list of &ldquostrong female characters&rdquo many seem to overlook one major player in the historical FPS genre. I am of course speaking of Manon Batiste, the French underground super soldier. Based on real life French badass Helene Deschamps Adams, Manon was seen to do many things including destroying a V-1 bomb facility and her eventual progression into the OSS. Manon is one of a very small group of female FPS heroines, and one of the best.

The new game was banned on U.S. Military bases.

No game in the last few years (aside from Six Days in Fallujah) has generated as much controversy as the newest Medal of Honor game. No matter what side of the issue that one sits on, when a game gets banned from U.S. military bases, that&rsquos a pretty big thing. Can controversy generate success?

The last item of this list will be a little food for thought. One criticism that many have of the Medal of Honor series is that it downplays a lot of the horrors that occurred during the respective wars that the games are about. Critics have cited that the games show no bystanders or regular citizens at all. Aside from a few exceptions, this means no emaciated Jewish people, no screaming Japanese children, and no Russian famine victims. While not the developer's fault, Medal of Honor kicked off a trend in making historical games into whitewashed versions of what really happened.


The Medal of Honor: 6 Surprising Facts - History in the Headlines

TSgt Joe C.

One hundred fifty years ago today, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure calling for an award known as the U.S. Army Medal of Honor to be bestowed upon “such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection." (The conflict referenced was the Civil War.) A provision the previous December had created a similar honor for the U.S. Navy. Since then, 3,458 men and one woman have received the Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military decoration. On the anniversary of the medal’s creation, discover six surprising facts about the award and its recipients.

1. At first, the idea of a Medal of Honor was dismissed as too “European.”
During the American Revolution, George Washington established the first combat decoration in U.S. history, known as the Badge of Military Merit. After the conflict it fell into disuse, as did its successor, the Certificate of Merit, bestowed during the Mexican-American War. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, proponents of a new award made their case to Winfield Scott, general-in-chief of the Union Army. Scott, a respected commander despite being too feeble and corpulent to mount a horse in the waning years of his career, scoffed at the suggestion, saying it smacked of European tradition. It was only after his retirement that Medal of Honor supporters in Congress could introduce bills providing for the decoration.

2. Only one woman has received the Medal of Honor, and her award was temporarily rescinded.
A medical doctor who supported feminist and abolitionist causes, Mary Edwards Walker volunteered with the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Despite her training, she initially had to work as a nurse before becoming the Army’s first female surgeon. Known to cross enemy lines in order to treat civilians, she may have been serving as a spy when Confederate troops captured her in the summer of 1864. Walker was later released as part of a prisoner exchange and returned to duty. On November 11, 1865, President Andrew Johnson presented her with the Medal of Honor, making her the only woman to date to receive the decoration. In 1917 the Army changed its eligibility criteria for the honor and revoked the awards of 911 non-combatants, including Walker. Nevertheless, she continued to wear her medal until her death two years later. An Army board restored Walker’s Medal of Honor in 1977, praising her “distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex.”

Medal of HonorTheodore Roosevelt, the only U.S. president to have received the Medal of Honor.
3. Theodore Roosevelt is the only U.S. president to have received the Medal of Honor, which he was awarded posthumously.
When the Spanish-American War broke out, Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt famously quit his job to lead a volunteer regiment known as the Rough Riders. Roosevelt and his men played a decisive role in the Battle of San Juan Hill and took part in other confrontations in Cuba. In 1916, less than three years before his death, the 26th president was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but the Army passed him over, citing a lack of evidence for his heroic actions at San Juan Hill. President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded him the decoration in 2001. Roosevelt’s son, Theodore Jr., who served in both World Wars, also received the Medal of Honor.

4. The youngest Medal of Honor recipient earned his award at 11 and was granted it at 13.
Born in New York, 11-year-old Willie Johnston enlisted in the Union Army alongside his father, serving as a drummer boy with the 3rd Vermont Infantry during the Civil War. In June 1862, overpowered by Confederate forces, his unit retreated down the Virginia Peninsula under orders from General George McClellan. Along the way, the men discarded their equipment to hasten their pace. Young Willie, however, clung to his drum throughout the march and was later asked to play for his entire division on July 4. When Abraham Lincoln heard about the drummer’s bravery, he recommended him for the Medal of Honor, and Willie received the award in September 1863. In the 20th century, the youngest recipient was Jack Lucas, a marine who at just 17 shielded fellow squad members from grenades at Iwo Jima.


Watch the video: Actors Who Got Greedy, Then Got Fired (December 2021).