List of Medal of Honor recipients

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Gold medal, an inverted five-pointed star surmounted by an eagle, hanging from a formal blue ribbon in a display
A Medal of Honor on display

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.[1]

The President of the United States, in the name of the United States Congress, has awarded 3,471 Medals of Honor to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coast guardsmen since the decoration's creation in 1861.[2] There were no military awards or medals in use at the beginning of the Civil War (1861–1865)—as the only award available during this conflict, almost half of all Medals of Honor presented-to-date were awarded for actions in the four years of the Civil War.[2]

The citations highlighting these acts resided in archives, some for more than 100 years and were only sporadically printed. In 1973, the U.S. Senate ordered the citations compiled and printed as Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor recipients: 1863–1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973). This book was later updated and reprinted in 1979.[3]

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 Her medal was rescinded in 1917 along with many other non-combat awards, but it was restored by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.[4]

While current law, (10 U.S.C. § 6241), beginning in 1918, explicitly state 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. In addition, the Medal of Honor was presented to the British Unknown Warrior by General Pershing on October 17, 1921; later the U.S. Unknown Soldier was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, on November 11, 1921. Although being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite for eligibility to receive the medal, apart from a few exceptions, Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the U.S. armed forces. 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.[5] In the Vietnam War, Peter C. Lemon was the only Canadian recipient of the Medal of Honor.[6]

19th century[edit]

American Civil War[edit]

Main articles: Lists of American Civil War Medal of Honor recipients: A–F, G–L, M–P, Q–S and T–Z

The American Civil War (1861–1865) was an undeclared war between the United States (the Union) and the Southern states of the newly formed Confederate States of America under Jefferson Davis. The Medal of Honor was established during this conflict; 1522 were awarded (32 posthumously) for acts of bravery and gallantry in combat.[2] Almost half of all of the awarded Medals of Honor were presented for actions in the Civil War.[2]

Indian Wars[edit]

The term Indian Wars is the name generally used in the United States to describe a series of conflicts between colonial or federal governments and the American Indian population resident in North America before the arrival of white settlers.[7] During this conflict the Medal of Honor was presented to 426 soldiers, 13 posthumously for acts of bravery and gallantry in combat.[2]

Some 20 Medal of Honor recipients were involved in the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Korean Expedition[edit]

The United States expedition to Korea in 1871, also known as Sinmiyangyo (Western Disturbance of the Year Sinmi year), was the first American military action in Korea. It took place predominantly on and around the Korean island of Ganghwa. The reason for the presence of the American military expeditionary force in Korea was to support an American diplomatic delegation sent to establish trade and diplomatic relations with Korea and to ascertain the fate of the General Sherman merchant ship. The isolationist nature of the Joseon Dynasty government and the assertiveness of the Americans led to an armed conflict between the two parties. Eventually, the United States failed to secure its objectives.[8]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[9]
Andrews, JohnJohn Andrews Navy Ordinary Seaman aboard the USS Benicia Jun 9, 1871 – Jun 10, 1871 USS Benicia Stood on the gunwale on the Benicia's launch, lashed to the ridgerope and remained unflinchingly in this dangerous position and gave his soundings with coolness and accuracy under a heavy fire.
Two soldiers with rifles and one man in a sailor suit standing on a ship deck in front of a large flag. (Brown at right) Brown, CharlesCharles Brown Marine Corps Corporal aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Assisted in capturing the Korean flag from the citadel of the fort
Coleman, JohnJohn Coleman Marine Corps Private aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado For hand-to-hand combat and saving the life of Alexander McKenzie
Dougherty, JamesJames Dougherty Marine Corps Private aboard the USS Carondelet June 11, 1871 USS Carondelet Returned to duty after being wounded several times
Franklin, FrederickFrederick Franklin Navy Quartermaster aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado For assuming command of Company D, after Lt. McKee was wounded, and handling the company until relieved
Grace, Patrick H.Patrick H. Grace Navy Chief Quartermaster aboard the USS Benicia Jun 10, 1871 – Jun 11, 1871 USS Benicia Carrying out his duties with coolness, Grace set forth gallant and meritorious conduct throughout this action
Two soldiers with rifles and one man in a sailor suit standing on a ship deck in front of a large flag. (Hayden at left) Hayden, CyrusCyrus Hayden Navy Carpenter aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Serving as color bearer of the battalion, Hayden planted his flag and protected it under heavy fire
Head and shoulders of an otherwise-cleancut man with an enormous mustache, in circa-1900 formal dress. Lukes, William F.William F. Lukes Navy Landsman Ganghwa Island Jun 9, 1871 – Jun 10, 1871 USS Colorado Fighting the enemy inside the fort, Lukes received a severe cut over the head
McKenzie, AlexanderAlexander McKenzie Navy Boatswain's Mate aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Fighting at the side of Lt. McKee during this action, McKenzie was struck by a sword and received a severe cut in the head from the blow.
McNamara, MichaelMichael McNamara Marine Corps Private aboard the USS Benicia June 11, 1871 USS Benicia For taking a match-lock from the hands of the enemy while advancing to the parapet
Merton, James F.James F. Merton Navy Landsman Ganghwa Island Jun 9, 1871 – Jun 10, 1871 USS Colorado Merton was severely wounded in the arm while trying to force his way into the fort
Owens, MichaelMichael Owens Marine Corps Private aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Fighting courageously in hand-to-hand combat, Owens was badly wounded by the enemy during this action
Large foreign flag behind three 1870s soldiers or sailors on a shipdeck (Purvis in center) Purvis, HughHugh Purvis Marine Corps Private aboard the USS Alaska June 11, 1871 USS Alaska Braving the enemy fire, Purvis was the first to scale the walls of the fort and capture their flag
Rogers, Samuel F.Samuel F. Rogers Navy Quartermaster aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Fighting courageously at the side of Lt. McKee during this action, Rogers was wounded by the enemy
Troy, WilliamWilliam Troy Navy Ordinary Seaman aboard the USS Colorado June 11, 1871 USS Colorado Fighting at the side of Lt. McKee, by whom he was especially commended, Troy was badly wounded by the enemy

Spanish-American War[edit]

The Spanish-American War (Spanish: Guerra Hispano-Estadounidense, desastre del 98, Guerra Hispano-Cubana-Norteamericana or Guerra de Cuba ) was a military conflict between Spain and the United States that began in April 1898. Hostilities halted in August of that year, and the Treaty of Paris was signed in December. The war began after the American demand for Spain's peacefully resolving the Cuban fight for independence was rejected, though strong expansionist sentiment in the United States may have motivated the government to target Spain's remaining overseas territories: Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Guam and the Caroline Islands.[10]

Riots in Havana by pro-Spanish "Voluntarios" gave the United States reason to send in the warship USS Maine. This action by the U.S. indicated high national interest. Tension among the American people was raised because of the explosion of the USS Maine, and "yellow journalism" that accused Spain of extensive atrocities, agitating American public opinion. The war ended after decisive naval victories for the United States in the Philippines and Cuba. The Treaty of Paris ended the conflict 109 days after the outbreak of war giving the United States ownership of the former Spanish colonies of Puerto Rico, the Philippines and Guam.[11]

Samoan Civil War[edit]

The Samoan Civil War is a Western definition of political activity in the Samoa Islands of the South Pacific in the late 19th century. By this non-Samoan definition, the Samoan Civil Wars were a series of wars between Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, ending in the partitioning of the island chain in 1899. The concluding event was the Second Samoan Civil War. The first Samoan Civil War lasted for eight years. The warring Samoan parties were supplied arms, training and sometimes even combat troops by Germany, Britain and the United States. These three powers valued Samoa as a refueling station for coal fired shipping. In addition, these countries sought to gain more power in Europe and wanted Samoa due to the scarcity of unclaimed territory from 1870 onwards.[12]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[13]
Fisher, Frederick T.Frederick T. Fisher Navy Gunner's Mate First Class aboard the USS Philadelphia, Samoa April 1, 1899 USS Philadelphia For distinguishing himself by his conduct in the presence of the enemy
Forsterer, Bruno A.Bruno A. Forsterer Marine Corps Sergeant Samoa April 1, 1899 Unknown For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy.
Top half of man in formal 1900s military dress, wearing a star-shaped medal on a ribbon around his neck. Hulbert, Henry L.Henry L. Hulbert Marine Corps Private Samoa April 1, 1899 Unknown For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy. Subsequently awarded the Navy Cross and the Distinguished Service Cross for actions during World War I.
McNally, Michael J.Michael J. McNally Marine Corps Sergeant Samoa April 1, 1899 Unknown For distinguished conduct in the presence of the enemy

Philippine-American War[edit]

The Philippine-American War[n 1] was an armed military conflict between the United States and the First Philippine Republic, fought between 1899 to at least 1902, which arose from a Filipino political struggle against U.S. occupation of the Philippines. While the conflict was officially declared over on July 4, 1902,[14][15][16] American troops continued hostilities against remnants of the Philippine Army and other resistance groups until 1913, and some historians consider these unofficial extensions part of the war.[16]

Eighty-six men were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions in the Philippine–American War: 70 from the Army, 10 from the Navy, and 6 from the Marine Corps. Four of the awards were posthumous. Among the recipients were Webb Hayes, the son of former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes, and two prominent Marine Corps officers, Hiram I. Bearss and David Dixon Porter. Bearss became known for leading long-range reconnaissance patrols behind enemy lines and was later wounded as a colonel in World War I. Porter was from a distinguished military family and rose to become a major general. José B. Nísperos, a member of the Philippine Scouts who was honored for continuing to fight after being wounded, was the first Asian recipient of the Medal of Honor.[17]

Boxer Rebellion[edit]

The Boxer Movement or Boxer Rebellion, which occurred in China from November 1899 to September 7, 1901, was an uprising by members of the Chinese Society of Right and Harmonious Fists against foreign influence in areas such as trade, politics, religion and technology that occurred in China during the final years of the Manchu rule (Qing Dynasty). The members of the Society of Right and Harmonious Fists were simply called boxers by the Westerners due to the martial arts and calisthenics they practiced. The uprising began as an anti-foreign, anti-imperialist peasant-based movement in northern China. They attacked foreigners who were building railroads and violating Feng shui, as well as Christians, who were held responsible for the foreign domination of China. In June 1900, the Boxers invaded Beijing and killed 230 non-Chinese. Tens of thousands of Chinese Christians, Catholic and Protestant alike, were killed mostly in Shandong and Shanxi Provinces as part of the uprising. The government of Empress Dowager Cixi was not helpful, and diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and some Chinese Christians retreated to the legation quarter where they held out for fifty-five days until a multinational coalition rushed 20,000 troops to their rescue. The Chinese government was forced to indemnify the victims and make many additional concessions. Subsequent reforms implemented after the crisis of 1900 laid the foundation for the end of the Qing Dynasty and the establishment of the modern Chinese Republic.[18]

During the Boxer rebellion, 59 American servicemen received the Medal of Honor for their actions. Four of these were for Army personnel, twenty-two went to navy sailors and the remaining thirty-three went to marines. Harry Fisher was the first Marine to receive the medal posthumously and the only posthumous recipient for this conflict.[2]

20th century[edit]

United States occupation of Veracruz, 1914[edit]

The United States occupation of the Mexican port of Veracruz lasted for six months in response to the Tampico Affair of April 9, 1914. The incident came in the midst of poor diplomatic relations between Mexico and the United States, related to the ongoing Mexican Revolution.[19]

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered that 56 Medals of Honor be awarded to participants in the occupation of Veracruz, the most for any single action before or since. In total 63 Medals of Honor were received for actions during the occupation; 1 Army, 9 to members of the United States Marine Corps and 53 to Navy personnel.[2]

Invasion and occupation of Haiti[edit]

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

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[20][21]
Head and shoulders of man in his 40s wearing a U.S. Marine uniform with ribbons, circa 1920. Butler, SmedleySmedley Butler Marine Corps Major Fort Riviere, Haiti November 17, 1915 2nd Marines Second award – previously awarded a Medal of Honor for action in the Mexican Campaign.
Head and shoulders of a U.S. Marine wearing a 1920s flat-brimmed campaign hat in bright sun. Button, William R.William R. Button Marine Corps Corporal near Grande Riviere, Haiti Oct 31, 1919 – Nov 1, 1919 7th Marines For the assassination of rebel leader Charlemagne Péralte and the routing of his followers
Top half of a serious man in formal 1920s U.S. military dress wearing two star-shaped medals on ribbons around his neck. Daly, DanielDaniel Daly Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant near Fort-Liberté, Haiti October 24, 1915 15th Company, 2nd Marines Second award – previously awarded a Medal of Honor for action in the Boxer Rebellion
Top half of man in 1920s tropical U.S. Marine uniform with flat-brimmed campaign hat. Hanneken, Herman H.Herman H. Hanneken Marine Corps Sergeant near Grande Riviere, Haiti Oct 31, 1919 – Nov 1, 1919 7th Marines For the assassination of rebel leader Charlemagne Péralte and the routing of his followers
Head and shoulder of man with jutting jaw in circa 1920 U.S. Marine uniform. Iams, Ross L.Ross L. Iams Marine Corps Sergeant Fort Riviere, Haiti November 17, 1915 5th Company, 2nd Marines Approaching a breach in the wall which was the only entrance to the fort, Sergeant Iams unhesitatingly jumped through the breach despite constant fire from the Cacos and engaged the enemy in a desperate hand-to-hand combat until the bastion was captured and Caco resistance neutralized.
Marguiles, SamuelSamuel Marguiles Marine Corps Private Fort Riviere, Haiti November 17, 1915 23rd Company, 2nd Marines Served under the name Samuel Gross.
Side profile of head and chest of older, plump man in dress U.S. Marine uniform. Ostermann, Edward A.Edward A. Ostermann Marine Corps First Lieutenant near Fort-Liberté, Haiti October 24, 1915 15th Company, 2nd Marines In command of one of the three squads which advanced in three different directions, led his men forward, surprising and scattering the Cacos, and aiding in the capture of Fort Dipitie.
Young man with slicked-down short hair in a circa 1915 U.S. Marine uniform with a very high collar. Upshur, William P.William P. Upshur Marine Corps Captain near Fort-Liberté, Haiti October 24, 1915 15th Company, 2nd Marines In command of the three squads which advanced in three different directions, led his men forward, surprising and scattering the Cacos, and aiding the capture of Fort Dipitie.

Occupation of the Dominican Republic[edit]

The United States occupied the Dominican Republic from 1916 to 1924. In May 1917, Rear Admiral William Caperton forced Arias to leave Santo Domingo by threatening the city with naval bombardment. U.S. Marines invaded and took control of the country within two months; in November that same year, the U.S. imposed a military government. The Marines restored order throughout most of the republic (with the exception of the eastern region); the country's budget was balanced, its debt was diminished, and economic growth resumed; infrastructure projects produced new roads that linked all the country's regions for the first time in its history; a professional military organization, the Dominican Constabulary Guard, replaced the partisan forces that had waged a seemingly endless struggle for power.[22]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[23]
Head and shoulders of square-jawed man in circa 1920 formal U.S. Marine uniform. Glowin, Joseph A.Joseph A. Glowin Marine Corps Corporal Guayacanes, Dominican Republic July 3, 1916 13th Company, Artillery Battalion, 1st Brigade For action against a considerable force of rebels
Williams, Ernest C.Ernest C. Williams Marine Corps First Lieutenant San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic November 29, 1916 1st Brigade For leading the capture of a fort
Head and shoulders of man in circa 1920 U.S. Marine dress uniform, wearing a star-shaped medal hanging from a ribbon under his collar. Winans, RoswellRoswell Winans Marine Corps First Sergeant Guayacanes, Dominican Republic July 3, 1916 1st Brigade For action against a considerable force of rebels

World War I[edit]

World War I, also known as the First World War and the Great War, was a global military conflict which took place primarily in Europe from 1914–1918. Over 40 million casualties resulted, including approximately 20 million military and civilian deaths.[24] Over 60 million European soldiers were mobilized from 1914–1918.[25] The immediate cause of the war was the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, by Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb citizen of Austria-Hungary and member of the Black Hand. The retaliation by Austria-Hungary against Serbia activated a series of alliances that set off a chain reaction of war declarations. Within a month, much of Europe was in a state of open warfare.[26]

During this War, 119 men received the Medal for their actions, 33 of them posthumously.[2]

Occupation of Nicaragua[edit]

The United States occupied Nicaragua from 1909 to 1933 and intervened in the country several times before that. The American interventions in Nicaragua were designed to prevent the construction of a trans-isthmian canal by any nation but the USA. Nicaragua assumed a quasi-protectorate status under the 1916 Chamorro-Bryan Treaty. The occupation ended as Augusto César Sandino, a Nicaraguan revolutionary, led guerrilla armies against US troops. Furthermore, the onset of the Great Depression made it costly for the USA to maintain occupation.[27]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[28]
Head and shoulders of man in circa 1940 U.S. Marine khaki uniform, wearing many campaign ribbons. Schilt, Christian F.Christian F. Schilt Marine Corps First Lieutenant Quilali, Nicaragua Jan 6, 1928 – Jan 8, 1928 Observation Squadron 7-M For evacuating wounded Marines by plane while under fire
Full length portrait of standing man in circa 1930 U.S. Marine dress uniform. Truesdale, Donald L.Donald L. Truesdale Marine Corps Corporal near Constancia, near Coco River, northern Nicaragua April 24, 1932 a Guardia Nacional Patrol Served under the name "Truesdale" before officially changing name to "Truesdell" on 25 July 1942.[29] Lost his hand while attempting to save his patrol from an accidentally activated grenade.

World War II[edit]

World War II, or the Second World War, was a global military conflict. The conflicts joined from two separate conflicts. The first began in Asia in 1937 as the Second Sino-Japanese War; the other began in Europe in 1939 with the German and Russian invasion of Poland.[n 2] This global conflict split the majority of the world's nations into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers. It involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history, and placed the participants in a state of "total war", erasing the distinction between civil and military resources. This resulted in the complete activation of a nation's economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities for the purposes of the war effort. Over 60 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.[30] The worldwide financial cost of the war is estimated at a trillion 1944 U.S. dollars,[31][32] making it the most costly war both in capital expenditures as well as loss of lives.

During this conflict 464 United States military personnel received the Medal of Honor, 266 of them posthumously. A total of 42 Medals of Honor, representing 9% of all awarded during World War II, were presented for action in just two battles – 15 for actions during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and 27 for actions during the Battle of Iwo Jima. A total of 21 (4.5% of all World War II Medals of Honor) were awarded to members of the all-Japanese American 100th Infantry Battalion of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for actions in numerous battles across six different campaigns.[33] Additionally, the only Medal of Honor ever presented to a member of the United States Coast Guard was received for actions during this war.[2]

Korean War[edit]

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

In South Korea, the war is often called "6•25", or the 6•25 War (Korean: 6•25 전쟁), from the date of the start of the conflict or, more formally, Hanguk Jeonjaeng literally “Korean War”. In North Korea, while commonly known as the Korean War, it is formally called the Fatherland Liberation War. In the early days of the war, United States President Harry Truman called the United Nations response a "police action".[34] The war is sometimes called "The Forgotten War" because it is a major conflict of the 20th century that gets less attention than World War II, which preceded it, and the controversial Vietnam War, which succeeded it.[35] In China, the conflict was known as the War to Resist America and Aid Korea, but is today commonly called the "Korean War".[36]

During this war, 136 Medals of Honor were presented for bravery in action, 98 of them posthumously.[2]

Vietnam War[edit]

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the American War, occurred from 1959 to April 30, 1975. The term "Vietnam Conflict" is often used to refer to events which took place between 1959 and April 30, 1975. The war was fought between the Communist-supported Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the United States supported Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). During the Vietnam War, 246 Medals of Honor were received, 154 of them posthumously. Soldiers of the Army received the most with 160, followed by 57 to the Marines, 16 to the Navy and the remaining 13 to the Air Force.[2] The first medal of the war was presented to Roger Donlon for rescuing and administering first aid to several wounded soldiers and leading a group against an enemy force.[37] The first African American recipient of the war was Milton L. Olive, III who sacrificed himself to save others by smothering a grenade with his body.[38] Riley L. Pitts was killed after attacking an enemy force with rifle fire and grenades and was the first African American commissioned officer of the war to receive the medal.[39] Thomas Bennett was a conscientious objector who received the medal for his actions as a medic;[40] three chaplains received the medal, including Vincent R. Capodanno, who served with the Marine Corps and was known as the Grunt Padre.[41]

USS Liberty incident[edit]

The USS Liberty incident was an attack on a neutral United States Navy technical research ship, USS Liberty, by Israeli jet fighter planes and motor torpedo boats on June 8, 1967, during the Six-Day War. The combined air and sea attack killed 34 and wounded more than 170 crew members, and damaged the ship severely.[42]

Image Name Service Rank Place of action Date of action Unit Notes[43]
Top half of man in circa 1970 U.S. Navy officer uniform, before an American flag. William L. McGonagle Navy Commander Eastern Mediterranean Sea June 8, 1967 – June 9, 1967 USS Liberty (AGTR-5) Continued to lead his ship despite being severely wounded

Post-Vietnam[edit]

Since the end of the Vietnam War, also known as the Vietnam Conflict and Second Indochina War,[44][45] the United States was involved in a number of smaller conflicts during the end of the Cold War, including in Grenada, Panama, and elsewhere.[46] In the Post-Cold War, the United States was involved in conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, the Caribbean, and in the Balkans.[47] No Medals of Honors have been awarded for any of the aforementioned conflicts so far either proactively or retroactively.

Somalia[edit]

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

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

On Monday, May 23, 1994, President Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to the widows of Gordon and Shughart.[48] They are the only snipers to have received the Medal of Honor.[49] The film Black Hawk Down, based on the book of the same name, includes a narrative of the events.

21st century[edit]

Afghanistan[edit]

Iraq[edit]

Peacetime[edit]

Before World War II, the Medal of Honor could be received for actions not involving direct combat with the enemy and 193 men earned the medal in this way.[2] Most of these medals were presented to members of the United States Navy for rescuing or attempting to rescue someone from drowning.[2] One of those awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing others was Fireman Second Class Trinidad, who as of 2010 has been the only Asian American Sailor to be awarded the Medal of Honor.[50] In addition to the medals that were presented for lifesaving acts, one Medal of Honor was presented to William Halford who sailed in a small boat for 31 days to get help for the other members of the USS Saginaw who had been stranded on an island.[51] Three explorers were also presented with the medal by special acts of Congress. Charles Lindbergh received the medal for flying the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic Ocean as well as Floyd Bennett and Richard Evelyn Byrd who received it for their participation in what was thought to be the first successful heavier-than-air flight to the North Pole and back. One recipient, Adolphus W. Greely received his for a lifetime of military service.[52]

Foreign[edit]

While current law, (e.g., 10 U.S.C. § 6241 (relating to service members in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps), 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. Apart from these rare exceptions, Medals of Honor can only be awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, although being a U.S. citizen is not a prerequisite. Sixty-one Canadians who were serving in the United States Armed Forces have been awarded the Medal of Honor, with a majority awarded for actions in the American Civil War. Since 1900, four have been awarded to Canadians.[5] In the Vietnam War, Peter C. Lemon was the only Canadian recipient of the Medal of Honor.[53]

The Medal of Honor has also been presented to several unknown soldiers: the British Unknown Warrior in the United Kingdom by General Pershing on October 17, 1921; later the U.S. Unknown Soldier was reciprocally awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry, on November 11, 1921. The Medal of Honor was also presented to the Romanian Unknown Soldier, the Unknown Soldier of France, entombed under the Arc de Triomphe, the Unknown Soldier of Belgium and the Unknown Soldier of Italy, entombed in the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II.[54]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This conflict is also known as the Philippine Insurrection. This name was historically the most commonly used in the U.S., but Filipinos and some American historians refer to these hostilities as the Philippine-American War, and, in 1999, the U.S. Library of Congress reclassified its references to use this term.
  2. ^ Official military histories in Commonwealth nations refer to the conflict as the Second World War, while the United States' official histories refer to the conflict as World War II. English translations of the official histories of other nations tend to resolve into English as Second World War also, for example zweite weltkrieg in German. See C.P. Stacey Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, for example. "Official" usage of these terms is giving way to popular usage and the two terms are becoming interchangeable even in formal military history.

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.
  1. ^ "A Brief History—The Medal of Honor". Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Department of Defense. August 8, 2006. Retrieved February 9, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Medal of Honor recipients". Statistics of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who received the Medal of Honor. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved March 18, 2008. 
  3. ^ "Medal of Honor recipients". Listing of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. United States Army Center of Military History. June 8, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Mary Edwards Walker". Women in History. Retrieved July 23, 2006. 
  5. ^ a b "Canada honours winners of top U.S. medal". CBC News. July 1, 2005. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 
  6. ^ "Thousands of Canadians, including a Medal of Honor recipient, served with the U.S. military in Vietnam". Veterans With a Mission. July 1, 2005. Retrieved July 20, 2006. 
  7. ^ "Winning the west the Army in the Indian Wars, 1865–1890". United States Army Center of Military History. April 27, 2001. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
  8. ^ Tyson, Carolyn A. (March 5, 2007). "Marine Amphibious Landing in Korea, 1871". Naval Historical Foundation. Retrieved February 15, 2010. 
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Further reading[edit]

  • Murphy, Edward F. (July 1987). Vietnam Medal of Honor Heroes. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-33890-1. 

External links[edit]