The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress. Because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress", it is often referred to informally as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name of the current award is "Medal of Honor." Within the United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", and less frequently as "Congressional Medal of Honor". U.S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, and while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are "MOH" and "MH".
There are three versions of the medal, one each for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version. The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Navy in 1861, soon followed by an Army version in 1862. The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States armed forces.
The President normally presents the Medal of Honor in Washington, D.C. at a formal ceremony that is intended to represent the gratitude of the U.S. people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3522 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with just less than half of them awarded for actions during the four years of the American Civil War.
In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.
|Medal of Honor|
Army, Navy, and Air Force versions of the Medal of Honor
|Awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress|
|Type||Military medal with neck ribbon|
|Eligibility||Military personnel only|
|Awarded for||Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty|
|Established||U.S. Navy: December 21, 1861|
U.S. Army: July 12, 1862
U.S. Air Force: April 14, 1965
|First awarded||March 25, 1863[a]|
|Last awarded||October 17, 2018|
|Next (lower)||Army: Distinguished Service Cross|
Navy and Marine Corps: Navy Cross
Air Force: Air Force Cross
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Cross
The modern-day Medal of Honor had a number of precursors. The first medal for military service in the United States was issued in 1780, after its creation in the same year by the Continental Congress. Known as the Fidelity Medallion, it was a small medal worn on a chain around the neck, similar to a religious medal, that was awarded only to three militiamen from New York state. They received it for the capture of John André, a British officer and spy connected directly to General Benedict Arnold during the American Revolutionary War. The capture saved the fort of West Point from the British Army.
The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by U.S. soldiers was established by George Washington when he issued a field order on August 7, 1782, for a Badge of Military Merit to recognize those members of the Continental Army who performed "any singular meritorious action". This decoration is America's first combat decoration and was preceded only by the Fidelity Medallion, the Congressional medal for Henry Lee awarded in September 1779 in recognition of his attack on the British at Paulus Hook, the Congressional medal for General Horatio Gates awarded in November 1777 in recognition of his victory over the British at Saratoga, and the Congressional medal for George Washington awarded in March 1776. Although the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse after the American Revolutionary War, the concept of a military award for individual gallantry by members of the U.S. Armed Forces had been established.
After the outbreak of the Mexican–American War (1846–1848) a Certificate of Merit (Meritorious Service Citation Certificate) was established by Act of Congress on March 3, 1847, "to any private soldier who had distinguished himself by gallantry performed in the presence of the enemy". 539 Certificates were approved for this period. The certificate was discontinued after the war and reintroduced in 1876 effective from June 22, 1874, to February 10, 1892, when it was awarded for extraordinary gallantry by private soldiers in the presence of the enemy. From February 11, 1892, through July 9, 1918, (Certificate of Merit disestablished) it could be awarded to members of the Army for distinguished service in combat or noncombat; from January 11, 1905, through July 9, 1918, the certificate was granted medal status as the Certificate of Merit Medal (first awarded to a soldier who was awarded the Certificate of Merit for combat action on August 13, 1898). This medal was later replaced by the Army Distinguished Service Medal which was established on January 2, 1918, (the Navy Distinguished Service Medal was established in 1919). Those Army members who held the Distinguished Service Medal in place of the Certificate of Merit could apply for the Army Distinguished Service Cross (established 1918) effective March 5, 1934.
During the first year of the Civil War (1861–1865), a proposal for a battlefield decoration for valor was submitted to Winfield Scott, the general-in-chief of the army, by Lt. Colonel Edward D. Townsend, an assistant adjutant at the War Department 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.
On December 9, 1861, U.S. Senator (Iowa) James W. Grimes, Chairman on the Committee on Naval Affairs, submitted Bill S. 82 (12 Stat. 329–330) 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", "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, ..." 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. On May 15, 1862, the United States Navy Department ordered 175 medals ($1.85 each) from the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia with "Personal Valor" inscribed on the back of each one .
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 acknowledgement 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." By mid-November the War Department contracted with Philadelphia silversmith William Wilson and Son, who had been responsible for the Navy design, to prepare 2,000 Army medals ($2.00 each) to be cast at the mint. The Army 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".
1863: On March 3, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration, and was authorized for officers of the Army On March 25, the Secretary of War presented the first Medals of Honor to six Union Army volunteers in his office.
1896: The ribbon of the Army version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned with all stripes being vertical.
1904: The planchet of the Army version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned by General George Lewis Gillespie. The purpose of the redesign was to help distinguish the Medal of Honor from other medals, particularly the membership insignia issued by the Grand Army of the Republic.
1917: Based on the report of the Medal of Honor Review Board, established by Congress in 1916, 911 recipients were stricken off the Medal of Honor roll because the medal had been awarded inappropriately. Among them were Buffalo Bill and Mary Edwards Walker. Some medals were restored in 1977.
1963: A separate Coast Guard medal was authorized in 1963, but not yet designed or awarded.
1965: A separate design for a version of the medal for the U.S. Air Force was created in 1956, authorized in 1960, and officially adopted on April 14, 1965. Previously, members of the U.S. Air Force received the Army version of the medal.
There are three versions of the Medal of Honor, one for each of the military departments of the Department of Defense: Army, Navy, and Air Force. Members of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard are eligible to receive the Navy version. Each 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.
The Army 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." The pendant and suspension bar are made of gilding metal, with the eye, jump rings, and suspension ring made of red brass. The finish on the pendant and suspension bar is hard enameled, gold plated, and rose gold plated, with polished highlights.
The Navy 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 left hand resting on fasces and right hand holding a shield blazoned 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.
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 the thunderbolt from the Air Force Coat of Arms." The pendant is made of gilding metal. The connecting bar, hinge, and pin are made of bronze. The finish on the pendant and suspension bar is hard enameled, gold plated, and rose gold plated, with buffed relief.
The Medal of Honor has evolved in appearance over time. The upside-down star design of the Navy version's pendant adopted in early 1862 has not changed since its inception. The Army 1862 version followed and was identical to the Navy version except an eagle perched atop cannons was used instead of an anchor to connect the pendant to the suspension ribbon. The metals 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. In 1896, the Army version changed the ribbon's design and colors due to misuse and imitation by nonmilitary organizations. 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. The 1904 Army version also introduced a bar with the word "Valor" above the star. In 1913, the Navy version adopted the same ribbon pattern.
After World War I, the Navy decided to separate the Medal of Honor into two versions, one for combat and one for non-combat. 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. It 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" Despite the "actual conflict" guidelines—the Tiffany Cross was awarded to Navy CDR (later RADM) Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett for arctic exploration. The Tiffany Cross itself was not popular. In 1942, the Navy returned to using only the original 1862 inverted 5-point star design, and ceased issuing the award for non-combat action.
In 1944, the suspension ribbons for both the Army and Navy version were replaced with the now familiar neck ribbon. When the Air Force version was designed in 1956, it incorporated similar elements and design from the Army version. It used a larger star with the Statue of Liberty image in place of Minerva on the medal and changed the connecting device from an eagle to an heraldic thunderbolt flanked with wings as found on the service seal.
1904–44 Army version
Since 1944, the Medal of Honor has been attached to a light blue colored moiré silk neck ribbon that is 1 3⁄16 in (30 mm) in width and 21 3⁄4 in (550 mm) in length. The center of the ribbon displays thirteen white stars in the form of three chevron. Both the top and middle chevrons are made up of 5 stars, with the bottom chevron made of 3 stars. The Medal of Honor is one of only two United States military awards suspended from a neck ribbon. The other is the Commander's Degree of the Legion of Merit, and is usually awarded to individuals serving foreign governments.
On May 2, 1896, Congress authorized a "ribbon to be worn with the medal and [a] rosette or knot to be worn in lieu of the medal." The service ribbon is light blue with five white stars in the form of an "M". It is placed first in the top position in the order of precedence and is worn for situations other than full-dress military uniform. The lapel button is a 1⁄2-inch (13 mm), six-sided light blue bowknot rosette with thirteen white stars and may be worn on appropriate civilian clothing on the left lapel.
In 2011, Department of Defense instructions in regard to the Medal of Honor were amended to read "for each succeeding act that would otherwise justify award of the Medal of Honor, the individual receiving the subsequent award is authorized to wear an additional Medal of Honor ribbon and/or a 'V' device on the Medal of Honor suspension ribbon" (the "V" device is a 1⁄4-inch-high (6.4 mm) bronze miniature letter "V" with serifs that denotes valor). The Medal of Honor was the only decoration authorized the use of the "V" device (none were ever issued) to designate subsequent awards in such fashion. Nineteen individuals, all now deceased, were double Medal of Honor recipients. In July 2014, DoD instructions were changed to read, "A separate MOH is presented to an individual for each succeeding act that justified award." As of 2014, no attachments are authorized for the Medal of Honor.
On October 23, 2002, Pub.L. 107–248 was enacted, modifying 36 U.S.C. § 903, authorizing a Medal of Honor flag to be presented to each person 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.
The flag was based on a concept by retired U.S. Army Special Forces First Sergeant Bill Kendall of Jefferson, Iowa, who in 2001, designed a flag to honor Medal of Honor recipient 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, emulate the suspension ribbon of the Medal of Honor. The flag has no defined proportions.
The first Medal of Honor flag recipient was U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, who was presented the flag 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.
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. 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 Commander-in-Chief. Since 1941, more than half of the Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously.
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. 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", since the United States has not formally declared war since World War II as a result of the provisions of the United Nations Charter. 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.
The four specific authorizing statutes amended July 25, 1963:
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.
A number of veteran support organizations and private companies devote themselves to exposing those who falsely claim to have received the Medal of Honor.
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.
The 1917 Medal of Honor Board deleted 911 awards, but only 910 names from the Army Medal of Honor Roll, including awards to Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and the first of two awards issued February 10, 1887, to George W. Midil, 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, this action was actually taken unilaterally by the Army's Board for Correction of Military Records, which probably was unlawful because the Board lacks the authority to directly contradict federal statutes, and has no authority to award Medals of Honor on its own. The Army Board for Correction of Military Records also restored the Medals of Honor of Buffalo Bill and four other civilian scouts in 1989, although the Board still apparently lacked this authority.
While the governing statute for the Army 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", exceptions have been made:
|Conflict||Date||Medal count (3,522)||List article|
|Civil War||1861–1865||1,523||American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients|
|Indian Wars||1865–1891||426||Medal of Honor recipients for the Indian Wars|
|Korean Expedition||1871||15||Medal of Honor recipients in Korea|
|Spanish–American War||1898||110||Medal of Honor recipients for the Spanish–American War|
|Second Samoan Civil War||1899||4||Medal of Honor recipients for the Samoan Civil War|
|Philippine–American War||1899–1902||86||Philippine–American War Medal of Honor recipients|
|Boxer Rebellion||1899–1901||59||Medal of Honor recipients for the Boxer Rebellion|
|Occupation of Veracruz||1914||56||Medal of Honor recipients for Veracruz|
|United States occupation of Haiti||1915–1934||8||Medal of Honor recipients for Haiti|
|Dominican Republic Occupation||1916–1924||3||Medal of Honor recipients for the Occupation of the Dominican Republic|
|World War I||1914–1918||126||Medal of Honor recipients for World War I|
|Occupation of Nicaragua||1912–1933||2||Medal of Honor recipients for Occupation of Nicaragua|
|World War II||1939–1945||472||Medal of Honor recipients for World War II|
|Korean War||1950–1953||145||Korean War Medal of Honor recipients|
|Vietnam War||1955–1975||261||Medal of Honor recipients for the Vietnam War|
|USS Liberty incident||1967||1||Medal of Honor recipients for the USS Liberty incident|
|Battle of Mogadishu||1993||2||Medal of Honor recipients for the Battle of Mogadishu|
|Iraq War||2003–2011||4||Medal of Honor recipients for the Iraq War|
|War in Afghanistan||2001–2014||17||Medal of Honor recipients for the War in Afghanistan|
|Peacetime||193||Medal of Honor recipients during peacetime|
|Unknown soldiers||9||Unknown Medal of Honor recipients|
|Army||Navy||Marine Corps||Air Force||Coast Guard||Total|
citation required for service totals.
Nineteen men have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice. The first two-time 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.
Five "double recipients" were awarded both the Army and Navy Medal of Honor for the same action; all five of these occurrences took place during World War I. Since February 1919, no single individual can be awarded more than one Medal of Honor for the same action, although a member of one branch of the armed forces can receive the Medal of Honor from another branch if the actions for which it was awarded occurred under the authority of the second branch.
To date, the maximum number of Medals of Honor earned by any service member has been two. 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.
|Frank Baldwin||Army||First Lieutenant, Captain||American Civil War, Indian Wars|
|Smedley Butler||Marine Corps||Major||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|||
|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|
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:
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.
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 Medal of Honor Roll in 1917 had their awards restored. However, since there was no statute of limitations on the award until legislation enacted during World War I, prior to this time there was no such thing as a "late award." Thus, hundreds of earlier awards would have also been late if time limitations had applied. For example, the War Department approved hundreds of Civil War awards decades after the qualifying acts; in the 1890s alone, the Army awarded 664 medals to volunteer troops, the vast majority of which were Civil War veterans. Since approximately 1,200 medals were awarded to Civil War soldiers, this means that about half were awarded over 25 years after the conflict's cessation, if the over 900 medals rescinded in 1917 are excluded. The Secretary of War, Elihu Root, eventually asked Congress to enact a statute of limitations for the award in reaction to the influx of Civil War applicants, reflecting in 1901 that claims were still being processed "for acts of gallantry alleged to have been performed more than forty years ago."
A 1993 study commissioned by the U.S. Army investigated "racial disparity" in the awarding of medals. 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.
In 1998, a similar study of Asian Americans resulted in President Bill Clinton presenting 22 Medals of Honor in 2000. 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. One of these Medal of Honor recipients was Senator Daniel Inouye, a former U.S. Army officer in the 442nd RCT.
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.
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. 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 and to Army Private First Class Henry Svehla and Army Private First Class Anthony T. Kahoʻohanohano for their heroic actions during the Korean War.
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 African American individuals—the "Valor 24"—for their actions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Three were still living at the time of the ceremony.
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 earlier returned. 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.
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 service. The commission, led by Nelson A. Miles, identified 911 awards for causes other than distinguished service. 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. Walker's medal was restored by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. 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, had theirs restored in 1989. The report was endorsed 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. Of the 910 revocations, none involved black recipients.
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:
as of October 17, 2018, there have been 3,522 Medals of Honor awarded.
Further depreciating the value of the medal, the Grand Army of the Republic and other veterans groups began giving out their own medals, some of which looked conspicuously similar to the Medal of Honor.
According to Frank, the Army redesigned its medal because other organizations had medals that looked similar. For example, the Grand Army of the Republic had a medal that, from far away, looked like a MoH.
Seventh in the order of precedence of military decorations, the Legion of Merit is one of only two U.S. decorations to be issued as a "neck order", meaning it is worn on a ribbon around the neck. The other is the esteemed Medal of Honor.
For the degree of Commander, the badge is worn from a neck ribbon. (The Medal of Honor is the only other American decoration worn from the neck.)
The degrees of chief commander and commander are conferred on members of foreign governments only and are awarded for services comparable to those for which the Distinguished Service Medal is given to members of the United States armed forces.
The Medal of Honor is the highest U.S. military honor and is usually presented by the President of the United States.
At the ceremony, Bush noted that more than half of the Medal of Honor recipients since World War II have died earning it.
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Even though he's leaving the Army, Giunta is entitled to a number of special benefits reserved for Medal of Honor recipients, including a monthly Veterans Affairs pension of more than $1,237 a month for life as well as an invitation to every presidential inauguration and inauguration party.
Adolphus Washington Greely (March 27, 1844 – October 20, 1935) was a United States Army officer, polar explorer, and recipient of the Medal of Honor.Alvin York
Alvin Cullum York (December 13, 1887 – September 2, 1964), also known as Sergeant York, was one of the most decorated United States Army soldiers of World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking at least one machine gun, killing at least 25 enemy soldiers and capturing 132. York's Medal of Honor action occurred during the United States-led portion of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France, which was intended to breach the Hindenburg line and force the Germans to surrender. He earned decorations from several allied countries during WWI, including France, Italy and Montenegro.
York was born in rural Tennessee. His parents farmed, and his father worked as a blacksmith. The eleven York children had minimal schooling because they helped provide for the family, which included hunting, fishing, and working as laborers. After the death of his father, York assisted in caring for his younger siblings and found work as a logger and on construction crews. Despite being a regular churchgoer, York also drank heavily and was prone to fistfights. After a 1914 conversion experience, he vowed to improve and became even more devoted to the Church of Christ in Christian Union. York was drafted during World War I; he initially claimed conscientious objector status on the grounds that his religious denomination forbade violence. Persuaded that his religion was not incompatible with military service, York joined the 82d Division as an infantry private and went to France in 1918.
In October 1918, as a newly-promoted corporal, York was one of a group of seventeen soldiers assigned to infiltrate German lines and silence a machine gun position. After the American patrol had captured a large group of enemy soldiers, German small arms fire killed six Americans and wounded three. York was the highest ranking of those still able to fight, so he took charge. While his men guarded the prisoners, York attacked the machine gun position, killing several German soldiers with his rifle before running out of ammunition. Six German soldiers charged him with bayonets, and York drew his pistol and killed all of them. The German officer responsible for the machine gun position had emptied his pistol while firing at York but failed to hit him. This officer then offered to surrender and York accepted. York and his men marched back to their unit's command post with more than 130 prisoners. York was immediately promoted to sergeant and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross; an investigation resulted in the upgrading of the award to the Medal of Honor. York's feat made him a national hero and international celebrity among allied nations.
After Armistice Day, a group of Tennessee businessmen purchased a farm for York, his new wife, and their growing family. He later formed a charitable foundation to improve educational opportunities for children in rural Tennessee. In the 1930s and 1940s, York worked as a project superintendent for the Civilian Conservation Corps and managed construction of the Byrd Lake reservoir at Cumberland Mountain State Park, after which he served for several years as park superintendent. A 1941 film about his World War I exploits, Sergeant York, was that year's highest-grossing film; Gary Cooper won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of York, and the film was credited with enhancing American morale as the US mobilized for action in World War II. In his later years, York was confined to bed by health problems. He died in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1964 and was buried at Wolf River Cemetery in his hometown of Pall Mall, Tennessee.Audie Murphy
Audie Leon Murphy (20 June 1925 – 28 May 1971) was one of the most decorated American combat soldiers of World War II. He received every military combat award for valor available from the U.S. Army, as well as French and Belgian awards for heroism. Murphy received the Medal of Honor for valor that he demonstrated at the age of 19 for single-handedly holding off an entire company of German soldiers for an hour at the Colmar Pocket in France in January 1945, then leading a successful counterattack while wounded and out of ammunition. Murphy was born into a large family of sharecroppers in Hunt County, Texas. His father abandoned them, and his mother died when he was a teenager. Murphy left school in fifth grade to pick cotton and find other work to help support his family; his skill with a hunting rifle helped feed his family.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Murphy's older sister helped him to falsify documentation about his birthdate in order to meet the minimum-age requirement for enlisting in the military. Turned down by the Navy and the Marine Corps, he enlisted in the Army. He first saw action in the 1943 Allied invasion of Sicily; then in 1944 he participated in the Battle of Anzio, the liberation of Rome, and the invasion of southern France. Murphy fought at Montélimar and led his men on a successful assault at the L'Omet quarry near Cleurie in northeastern France in October.
After the war, Murphy embarked on a 21-year acting career. He played himself in the 1955 autobiographical film To Hell and Back, based on his 1949 memoirs of the same name, but most of his roles were in westerns. He made guest appearances on celebrity television shows and starred in the series Whispering Smith. Murphy was a fairly accomplished songwriter. He bred quarter horses in California and Arizona, and became a regular participant in horse racing.
Suffering from what would today be described as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Murphy slept with a loaded handgun under his pillow. He looked for solace in addictive sleeping pills. In his last few years, he was plagued by money problems but refused offers to appear in alcohol and cigarette commercials because he did not want to set a bad example. Murphy died in a plane crash in Virginia in 1971, which was shortly before his 46th birthday. He was interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, where his grave is one of the most visited.Congressional Gold Medal
A Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the United States Congress. The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian awards in the United States. It is awarded to persons "who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement." However, "There are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When a Congressional Gold Medal has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by legislative action, provided for the creation of a medal on an ad hoc basis." U.S. citizenship is not a requirement.DICE Los Angeles
DICE Los Angeles (formerly DreamWorks Interactive L.L.C., EA Los Angeles and Danger Close Games) is an American video game developer and a division of EA DICE. The company was founded in March 1995 as joint venture between DreamWorks and Microsoft under the name DreamWorks Interactive. It was acquired by Electronic Arts and renamed EA Los Angeles in 2000, and to Danger Close Games in 2010. In 2013, the studio became a division of EA DICE and received the name DICE Los Angeles. The company is primarily known for having developed the Medal of Honor and Command & Conquer series of video games.Desmond Doss
Desmond Thomas Doss (February 7, 1919 – March 23, 2006) was a United States Army corporal who served as a combat medic with an infantry company in World War II. He was twice awarded the Bronze Star Medal for actions in Guam and the Philippines. Doss further distinguished himself in the Battle of Okinawa by saving 75 men, becoming the only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second World War. His life has been the subject of books, the documentary The Conscientious Objector, and the 2016 film Hacksaw Ridge.Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army (and previously the United States Air Force), for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree that they are above those required for all other U.S. combat decorations but do not meet the criteria for the Medal of Honor. The Distinguished Service Cross is equivalent to the Navy Cross (Navy and Marine Corps), the Air Force Cross (Air Force), and the Coast Guard Cross (Coast Guard).
The Distinguished Service Cross was first awarded during World War I. In addition, a number of awards were made for actions before World War I. In many cases, these were to soldiers who had received a Certificate of Merit for gallantry which, at the time, was the only other honor for gallantry the Army could award, or recommend a Medal of Honor. Others were belated recognition of actions in the Philippines, during the Boxer Rebellion and on the Mexican Border.
The Distinguished Service Cross is distinct from the Distinguished Service Medal, which is awarded to persons in recognition of exceptionally meritorious service to the government of the United States in a duty of great responsibility. The Distinguished Service Cross is only awarded for actions in combat, while the Distinguished Service Medal has no such restriction.IEEE Medal of Honor
The IEEE Medal of Honor is the highest recognition of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It has been awarded since 1917, when its first recipient was Major Edwin H. Armstrong. It is given for an exceptional contribution or an extraordinary career in the IEEE fields of interest. The award consists of a gold medal, bronze replica, certificate and honorarium. The Medal of Honor may only be awarded to an individual.
The medal was created by the Institute of Radio Engineers (IRE) as the IRE Medal of Honor. It became the IEEE Medal of Honor when IRE merged with the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE) to form the IEEE in 1963. It was decided that IRE's Medal of Honor would be presented as IEEE's highest award, while the Edison Medal would become IEEE's principal medal.
Ten persons with an exceptional career in electrical engineering received both the IEEE Edison Medal and the IEEE Medal of Honor, namely Edwin Howard Armstrong, Ernst Alexanderson, Mihajlo Pupin, Arthur E. Kennelly, Vladimir K. Zworykin, John R. Pierce, Sidney Darlington, Nick Holonyak, Robert H. Dennard, Dave Forney, and Kees Schouhamer Immink.List of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients
The Medal of Honor was first awarded in the American Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill containing a provision for the medal for the Navy on December 21, 1861. It was "to be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and Marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry and other seamanlike qualities during the present war." Legislation to include the Army was signed into law on July 12, 1862.
While the Medal of Honor is now the highest military decoration attainable by a member of the United States armed forces, during the Civil War, it was the only one. Thus, it was often awarded for reasons that would not now satisfy the stringent modern criteria. For example, 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. 311 accepted, but because there was no official list of their names, the War Department issued 864 - one for each man in the unit. In 1916, a board consisting of five retired generals reviewed Army awards and recommended that these 864, as well as others, be revoked.
Of the 3,464 Medals of Honor awarded to date, 1,522 were awarded during the American Civil War. The first Medals of Honor were given to many of the participants of the Andrews' Raid, some posthumously. Andrews himself was a civilian and thus ineligible at the time. Mary Edwards Walker, a surgeon, became the only woman (and one of only eight civilians) awarded a Medal of Honor; however, it was later revoked, and then reinstated. At least thirty-two were awarded to African Americans, including sixteen sailors of the Union Navy, sixteen soldiers of the United States Colored Troops, and three soldiers of other Army units. It was common for Civil War Medals of Honor to be awarded decades after the conflict ended and in one case, Andrew Jackson Smith's Medal was not awarded until 2001, 137 years after the action in which he earned it. Smith's wait, caused by a missing battle report, was the longest delay of the award for any recipient, until November 6, 2014 when President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Union Army First Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing for his actions at the Battle of Gettysburg, taking the longest delay of the award to 151 years.List of Medal of Honor recipients
The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.The President of the United States, in the name of the United States Congress, has awarded more than 3520 Medals of Honor including 19 second awards to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861.The citations highlighting acts of gallantry that received the Medal of Honor have been and continue to be regularly released by book publishers. After the Second World War both the Army and Navy produced hardbound Medal of Honor compilations. Between 1964 and 1979, the United States Senate Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs of the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare and later the Committee on Veterans' Affairs produced a number of consolidated compilations of all Medal of Honor citations to date. Additions and changes to the list of recipients of the medal since the 1979 have been regularly published by the Congressional research Service.The first Army Medal of Honor was awarded to Private Jacob Parrott during the American Civil War for his role in the Great Locomotive Chase. The first African American recipient for this award was William Harvey Carney who, despite being shot in the face, shoulders, arms, and legs, refused to let the American flag touch the ground. The only female Medal of Honor recipient is Mary Edwards Walker, a Civil War surgeon. Her medal was rescinded in 1917 along with many other non-combat awards, but it was restored by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.While current law, (10 U.S.C. § 6241), beginning in 1918, explicitly states that recipients must be serving in the U.S. Armed Forces at the time of performing a valorous act that warrants the award, exceptions have been made. For example, Charles Lindbergh, while a reserve member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, received his Medal of Honor as a civilian pilot. Although Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces, being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite for eligibility to receive the medal. Sixty-one Canadians who were serving in the United States Armed Forces have received the Medal of Honor; most received it for actions in the American Civil War. Since 1900, only four have been awarded to Canadians. In the Vietnam War, Peter C. Lemon was the only Canadian born recipient of the Medal of Honor. However, he was a US citizen.List of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II
This is a list of Medal of Honor recipients for World War II. The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. The recipient must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict, the joining of what had initially been 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 Soviet invasion of Poland. This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers.
The United States, and its military, was drawn into World War II on December 7, 1941, when Axis-member Japan launched the Attack on Pearl Harbor and European territories in the Pacific Ocean.
For actions during World War II, 472 United States military personnel received the Medal of Honor. Seventeen of these were Japanese-Americans fighting in both Europe and the Pacific, many of which were upgraded from Distinguished Service Crosses during the Clinton administration. Additionally, Douglas Albert Munro was the only serviceman from the United States Coast Guard in United States military history to receive the Medal for his actions during the war.
The earliest action for which a U.S. serviceman earned a World War II Medal of Honor was the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, for which seventeen U.S. servicemen were awarded a Medal. The last action to earn a contemporaneous Medal of Honor prior to the August 15, 1945, end of hostilities in World War II, were those of Melvin Mayfield, on July 29, 1945 – though several honorees may have been cited for their Medal after Mayfield's recognition on May 31, 1946. Additionally, seven African Americans and twenty-two Asian American veterans who had received the Distinguished Service Cross during the war were awarded the Medal of Honor in 1997 and 2000 – most of them posthumously – after two studies determined that racial discrimination had caused them to be overlooked at the time.Mary Edwards Walker
Mary Edwards Walker (November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919), commonly referred to as Dr. Mary Walker, was an American abolitionist, prohibitionist, prisoner of war and surgeon. She is the only woman to ever receive the Medal of Honor.In 1855, she earned her medical degree at Syracuse Medical College in New York, married and started a medical practice. She volunteered with the Union Army at the outbreak of the American Civil War and served as a surgeon at a temporary hospital in Washington, D.C., even though at the time women and sectarian physicians were considered unfit for the Union Army Examining Board. She was captured by Confederate forces after crossing enemy lines to treat wounded civilians and arrested as a spy. She was sent as a prisoner of war to Richmond, Virginia until released in a prisoner exchange.
After the war, she was approved for the Medal of Honor, for her efforts to treat the wounded during the Civil War. Notably, the award was not expressly given for gallantry in action at that time, and in fact was the only military decoration during the Civil War. Walker is the only woman to receive the medal and one of only eight civilians to receive it. Her name was deleted from the Army Medal of Honor Roll in 1917 (along with over 900 other, male MOH recipients); however, it was restored in 1977. After the war, she was a writer and lecturer supporting the women's suffrage movement until her death in 1919.Medal of Honor (2010 video game)
Medal of Honor is a first-person shooter video game developed by Danger Close Games and EA DICE and published by Electronic Arts. It is the thirteenth installment in the Medal of Honor series and a reboot of the series. The game was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 12, 2010. While the previous titles were set during World War II, Medal of Honor takes place during the War in Afghanistan. The game is loosely based on parts of Operation Anaconda; specifically, the events surrounding the Battle of Roberts Ridge.
Medal of Honor's single-player campaign uses a modified Unreal Engine 3 while multiplayer uses the Frostbite Engine.The game received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success. A sequel, Medal of Honor: Warfighter, developed by Danger Close Games, was released on October 23, 2012 in North America, in Australia on October 25, 2012 and in Europe on October 26, 2012.Medal of Honor (video game series)
Medal of Honor is a series of first-person shooter video games. The first game was developed by DreamWorks Interactive (now known as DICE Los Angeles, formerly Danger Close Games) and published by Electronic Arts for the PlayStation in 1999. Medal of Honor spawned a series of follow-up games including multiple expansions spanning various console platforms and personal computers.
The first twelve installments take place during World War II. The main characters are usually elite members of Office of Strategic Services (OSS), while later games focus on modern warfare. The story of the first three games was created by film director and producer Steven Spielberg. The music in the franchise was composed by Michael Giacchino, Christopher Lennertz and Ramin Djawadi.Michael P. Murphy
Michael Patrick "Murph" Murphy (7 May 1976 – 28 June 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL officer who was awarded the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the U.S. Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War . His other posthumous awards include the Silver Star Medal (which was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor) and the Purple Heart.
Michael Murphy was born and raised in Suffolk County, New York. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with honors and dual degrees in political science and psychology. After college he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and became a United States Navy SEAL in July 2002. After participating in several War on Terrorism missions, he was killed on 28 June 2005, after his team was compromised and surrounded by Taliban forces near Asadabad, Afghanistan.
The U.S. Navy ship USS Michael Murphy, and several civilian and military buildings have been named in his honor.Nisei
Nisei (二世, "second generation") is a Japanese language term used in countries in North America and South America to specify the ethnically Japanese children born in the new country to Japanese-born immigrants (who are called Issei). The Nisei are considered the second generation and the grandchildren of the Japanese-born immigrants are called Sansei or third generation. (Ichi, ni, san are Japanese for "one, two, three"; see Japanese numerals.)Smedley Butler
Smedley Darlington Butler (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940) was a United States Marine Corps major general, the highest rank authorized at that time, and at the time of his death the most decorated Marine in U.S. history. During his 34-year career as a Marine, he participated in military actions in the Philippines, China, in Central America and the Caribbean during the Banana Wars, and France in World War I. Butler later became an outspoken critic of U.S. wars and their consequences. He also exposed an alleged plan to overthrow the U.S. government.
By the end of his career, Butler had received 16 medals, five for heroism. He is one of 19 men to receive the Medal of Honor twice, one of three to be awarded both the Marine Corps Brevet Medal (along with Wendell Neville and David Porter) and the Medal of Honor, and the only Marine to be awarded the Brevet Medal and two Medals of Honor, all for separate actions.
In 1933, he became involved in a controversy known as the Business Plot, when he told a congressional committee that a group of wealthy industrialists were planning a military coup to overthrow Franklin D. Roosevelt, with Butler selected to lead a march of veterans to become dictator, similar to Fascist regimes at that time. The individuals involved all denied the existence of a plot and the media ridiculed the allegations, but a final report by a special House of Representatives Committee confirmed some of Butler's testimony.
In 1935, Butler wrote a book titled War Is a Racket, where he described and criticized the workings of the United States in its foreign actions and wars, such as those he was a part of, including the American corporations and other imperialist motivations behind them. After retiring from service, he became a popular activist, speaking at meetings organized by veterans, pacifists, and church groups in the 1930s.
Highest military awards for gallantry
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