|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|
|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 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".
The United States Armed Forces awards and decorations are primarily the medals, service ribbons, and specific badges which recognize military service and personal accomplishments while a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Such awards are a means to outwardly display the highlights of a service member's career.
Courage is the choice and willingness to confront agony, pain, danger, uncertainty, or intimidation. Physical courage is bravery in the face of physical pain, hardship, death or threat of death, while moral courage is the ability to act rightly in the face of popular opposition, shame, scandal, discouragement, or personal loss.
The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
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 United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world, with the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 319,421 personnel on active duty and 99,616 in the Ready Reserve, the Navy is the third largest of the service branches. It has 282 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of March 2018, making it the second largest and second most powerful air force in the world.
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.
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.
The American Civil War was a war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865. The Civil War is the most studied and written about episode in U.S. history. Primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people, war broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.
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 Day is a United States Federal Holiday that is celebrated every year on March 25. It was created to honor the "heroism and sacrifice of Medal of Honor recipients for the United States." The holiday has been celebrated since 1991, when George H. W. Bush signed Public Law 101-564 on November 15, 1990, which was passed by the 101st United States Congress in November 1990, and created it. The holiday was chosen to be celebrated on March 25 to honor the 23 men who participated in the Great Locomotive Chase and received Medals of Honor for it, particularly William Bensinger, Robert Buffum, Elihu H. Mason, Jacob Parrott, William Pittenger, and William H. H. Reddick, who received the first six Medals of Honor on March 25, 1863. The law reads :
Whereas the Medal of Honor is the highest distinction that can be awarded by the president, in the name of the congress, to members of the armed forces who have distinguished themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty ... Whereas public awareness of the importance of the Medal of Honor has declined in recent years; and Whereas the designation of National Medal of Honor Day will focus the efforts of national, State, and local organizations striving to foster public appreciation and recognition of Medal of Honor recipients."
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 Fidelity Medallion is the oldest decoration of the United States military and was created by act of the Continental Congress in 1780. Also known as the "André Capture Medal", the Fidelity Medallion was awarded to those soldiers who participated in the capture of Major John André, of the British army, who had been the contact to Benedict Arnold and had helped organize his defection.
John André was a British Army officer hanged as a spy by the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War for assisting Benedict Arnold's attempted surrender of the fort at West Point, New York to the British.
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
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.
George Washington was an American political leader, military general, statesman, and Founding Father, who also served as the first president of the United States (1789–1797). Washington commanded Patriot forces in the new nation's vital American Revolutionary War, and led them to an allied victory over the British. Washington also presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, which established the new federal government. For his manifold leadership during the American Revolution, he has been called the "Father of His Country".
The Badge of Military Merit is considered the first military award of the United States Armed Forces. Although the Fidelity Medallion is older, after being issued to three soldiers for a specific event in 1780 it was never awarded again, so the Badge of Military Merit is often considered the oldest. The Purple Heart is the official successor decoration of the Badge of Military Merit.
The Continental Army was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the ex-British colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in their revolt against the rule of Great Britain. The Continental Army was supplemented by local militias and volunteer troops that remained under control of the individual states or were otherwise independent. General George Washington was the commander-in-chief of the army throughout the war.
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 ArmyOn March 25, the Secretary of War presented the first Medals of Honor to six Union Army volunteers in his office.
1890: On April 23, the Medal of Honor Legion is established in Washington, D.C.
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.
1915: On March 3, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers became eligible for the Medal of Honor.
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.
Since 1944, the Medal of Honor has been attached to a light blue 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.colored moiré silk neck ribbon that is
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." 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.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
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.
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.
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.
The Medal of Honor confers special privileges on its recipients. By law, recipients have several benefits:
This article needs to be updated.December 2016)(
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:
The Navy Cross is the United States military's second-highest decoration awarded for valor in combat. The Navy Cross is awarded primarily to a member of the United States Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard for extraordinary heroism. The medal is equivalent to the Army Distinguished Service Cross, the Air Force Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Army, 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, the Air Force Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.
The Soldier's Medal is an individual decoration of the United States Army. It was introduced as Section 11 of the Air Corps Act, passed by the Congress of the United States on July 2, 1926. The criteria for the medal are: "The Soldier's Medal is awarded to any person of the Armed Forces of the United States or of a friendly foreign nation who, while serving in any capacity with the Army of the United States, including Reserve Component soldiers not serving in a duty status at the time of the heroic act, distinguished himself or herself by heroism not involving conflict with an enemy."
The Air Force Cross is the second highest military award that can be given to a member of the United States Air Force. The Air Force Cross is the Air Force decoration equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross (Army), the Navy Cross, and the Coast Guard Cross.
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.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 20, 2006, was a U.S. law that broadened the provisions of previous U.S. law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, or sale of any military decorations and medals. The law made it a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having received any U.S. military decoration or medal. If convicted, defendants might have been imprisoned for up to six months, unless the decoration lied about is the Medal of Honor, in which case imprisonment could have been up to one year. In United States v. Alvarez the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2012, that the Stolen Valor Act was an unconstitutional abridgment of the freedom of speech under the First Amendment, striking down the law in a 6 to 3 decision.
The Legion of Valor is a federally chartered corporation created to promote patriotic allegiance to the United States, fidelity to the U.S. Constitution, and popular support for civil liberties and the permanence of free institutions. Its membership is open to recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross.
Edward Swatton was a sailor in the U.S. Navy stationed aboard the USS Santiago de Cuba (1861) during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.
John Griffiths was a sailor in the U.S. Navy during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.
Daniel Milliken was a sailor in the U.S. Navy during the American Civil War. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher on January 15, 1865.
The Tiffany Cross Medal of Honor arose immediately after World War I, as the US Navy decided to recognize via the Medal of Honor two manners of heroism, one in combat and one in the line of a sailor's profession. 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 and without detriment to his mission." This pendant became the Tiffany Cross.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 is a United States federal law that was passed by the 113th United States Congress. The law amends the federal criminal code to make it a crime for a person to fraudulently claim having received a valor award specified in the Act, with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit by convincing another that he or she received the award.
David Lewis Gifford was a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor. He was awarded the Medal of Honor, for extraordinary heroism shown on May 24, 1864, while serving as a Private with Company B, 4th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, at Ashepoo River, South Carolina. His Medal of Honor was issued on January 21, 1897.
Philip Goettel was a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.
Jerry C. Wall was a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War who received the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor.
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.
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.
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