Medal of Honor: History and Issues

CRS Report for Congress
Medal of Honor: History and Issues
Updated March 30, 2006
David F. Burrelli
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Medal of Honor: History and Issues
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for bravery. It is
awarded by the President in the name of Congress. For this reason, it is often
referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since it was first presented in
1863, the medal has been awarded 3,461 times. Nineteen individuals have been
double recipients of the award.
Recipients of the Medal of Honor are afforded a number of benefits as a result
of this award.
Since the award’s inception, the laws and regulations that apply to it have
changed. In certain cases, the award has been rescinded. Six rescinded awards have
been reinstated.
On a number of occasions, legislation has been offered to waive certain
restrictions and to encourage the President to award the Medal of Honor to particular
individuals. Generally speaking, this type of legislation is rarely enacted. In a very
limited number of cases, the medal has been awarded outside the legal restrictions
concerning time limits. These cases are often based on technical errors, lost
documents or eyewitness accounts, or other factors that justify reconsideration.
These cases, however, represent the exception and not the rule.

Background ......................................................1
Current Policy and Benefits..........................................4
Procedures Involving Recommendations for the MoH.................4
Presentation of the MoH........................................5
Courtesies and Privileges Afforded MoH Recipients..................5
Congressional and Other Efforts to
Award the Medal of Honor......................................6
Statutory Restrictions..............................................15
Appendix .......................................................17
Citations ....................................................17
List of Tables
Table 1. Medal of Honor Breakdown by War and Service.................21

Medal of Honor: History and Issues
Members and staff of Congress often ask the Congressional Research Service
to provide information concerning the awarding of the Medal of Honor (MoH). This
report briefly describes the history of the MoH and the criteria and rules used in
awarding the medal. The benefits that are made available to Medal of Honor
recipients are listed. This report also describes the process involved in reconsidering
an individual for receipt of the medal (including what assistance a Member may
provide in this process). The applicable statutes concerning those improperly
holding, trading, or selling the award as well as those who wrongly claim to be medal
recipients are summarized. Some citations of those who have been awarded the MoH
are provided as examples, along with certain statistics describing the recipients.
According to a U.S. Senate Committee Print on the Medal of Honor:
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for bravery1 that can be given to
any individual in the United States of America. Conceived in the early 1860’s
and first presented in 1863, the medal has a colorful and inspiring history which
has culminated in the standards applied today for awarding this respected honor.
In their provisions for judging whether a man is entitled to the Medal of
Honor, each of the armed services has set up regulations which permit no margin
of doubt or error. The deed of the person must be proved by incontestable
evidence of at least two eyewitnesses; it must be so outstanding that it clearly
distinguishes his gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery;
it must involve the risk of his life; and it must be of the type of deed which, if he
had not done it, would not subject him to any justified criticism.
A recommendation for the Army or Air Force Medal must be made within
2 years from the date of the deed upon which it depends. Award of the medal
must be made within 3 years after the date of the deed. The recommendation for
a Navy Medal of Honor must be made within 3 years and awarded within 5

1 Acts of bravery and courage are not unusual among those in uniform. The fact that many
members of our armed forces have engaged in direct battle with an enemy or carried out
their duties under enemy attack is certainly a sign of this bravery and courage. However,
the level of heroism usually cited among those who receive the Medal of Honor is
uncommonly high and of a qualitatively different magnitude. The distinction of this type
of valor, heroism, courage, and bravery, in an environment where bravery and courage are
the norm — and must be the norm in order to carry out effective military operations — may
prove difficult to recognize by the outsider.

Apart from the great honor which it conveys, there are certain small
privileges which accompany the Medal of Honor....
The Medal of Honor is presented to its recipients by a high official “in the
name of the Congress of the United States.” For this reason it is sometimes
called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
As a general rule, the Medal of Honor can be earned — by a deed of
personal bravery or self-sacrifice above and beyond the call of duty — only
while a person is a member of the American Armed Forces in actual combat with
an enemy of the Nation. This was the case, for example, during World Wars I
and II and the Korean conflict. However, the Navy Medal of Honor could be and
has been on several occasions, awarded to noncombatants.
On a few, rare occasions, the Congress of the United States has awarded
special Medals of Honor for individual exploits taking place in peacetime. Such
a Medal of Honor was awarded Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh for his “heroic
courage and skill as a navigator, at the risk of his life, for his nonstop flight in his
airplane from New York to Paris, France, 20-21 May 1927.” In peace or war,
this medal is the highest decoration which can be given in any of the Armed2
Forces — Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard.
Since its beginning, the awarding of the Medal of Honor has been subjected to
numerous changes. Although not the first award,3 the medal became very popular.
Cases of abuse, wherein soldiers obtained the award surreptitiously and used it to
solicit charity, have been cited.
As of this printing, 3,461 Medals of Honor have been awarded to 3,442
recipients. There have been 19 double recipients (14 for separate actions and five
cases in which the Army and Navy Medals of Honor were awarded for the same
action). Since World War I, there has been an implied reluctance to award the medal
more than once to the same person.
During the Civil War, President Lincoln, in need of troops, awarded the medal
to the members of a single regiment (the 26th Maine Volunteer Infantry), as an
inducement to keep them on active duty. Due to a clerical error, the entire unit (864
men) received the medal, despite the fact that only 309 men actually volunteered for
extended duty (the rest went home). Others were awarded the medal under
questionable circumstances. William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody and others were awarded
the medal although they were civilians serving with the military. Mary Edwards
Walker, a contract surgeon (civilian) and the only woman to receive the medal, was
allegedly awarded it during the Civil War to placate her after the termination of her

2 U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, Subcommittee on
Veterans’ Affairs, Medal of Honor 1863-1968, 90th Cong., 2d sess. (Washington: GPO,

1968), p. 1. For a listing of recent recipients and their citations, see CRS Report RL30011,

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1979-2005, by Julissa Gomez-Granger.
3 George Washington created the Purple Heart in 1782. Three men received the award in
1783. The Purple Heart was not awarded again until World War I or later, and has been
based on different criteria.

contract with the army. Questions of her medical skills and loyalties to the Union
have been raised (see page 8).
In 1916, a board was created to determine eligibility for the award and to review
the cases of those who had already received the award:
And in any case ... in which said board shall find and report that said medal
was issued for any cause other than that hereinbefore specified, the name of the
recipient of the medal so issued shall be stricken permanently from the official
Medal of Honor list. It shall be a misdemeanor for him to wear or publicly
display such medal, and, if he shall be in the Army, he shall be required to return4
said medal to the War Department for cancellation.
All of the 2,625 medals awarded up to that time were considered by the board, and
nearly one-third (911) were canceled. Most of these canceled awards constituted
those issued to the 27th Maine Volunteer Infantry. William Cody’s and Mary
Edwards Walker’s awards were canceled as well.
In 1918, during U.S. participation in World War I, Congress
decided to clear away any inconsistencies of the legislation which had grown
around the Army medal and make a set of perfectly clear rules for its award....
[T]he provisions of existing law relating to the award of the Medals of
Honor ... are amended so that the President is authorized to present, in the name
of Congress, a Medal of Honor only to each person who, while an officer or
enlisted man of the Army, shall hereafter, in action involving actual conflict with
an enemy, distinguish himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at risk5
of his life above and beyond the call of duty.
Policies, regulations and guidance were provided to commanders throughout the
following years concerning the medal for the Army as well as the other services. In
many ways, these later awards were better documented. Such documentation served
as a standard for the consideration of other deeds in awarding the Medal of Honor or
other appropriate awards (i.e., the Silver Star, Bronze Star, etc.). Examples of
citations of Medal of Honor awards from various periods are included in the
Under current law:
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 — i.e, Navy, Marine Corps and
Coast Guard, or Air Force], distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and
intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty —

4 Medal of Honor, Committee Print, 1968, p. 9.
5 Medal of Honor, Committee Print, 1968, p. 11.

(1) while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the
United States;
(2) while engaged in military operations involving conflict with
an opposing foreign force; or,
(3) while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an
armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United6
States is not a belligerent party.
Current Policy and Benefits
The following is from the Department of Defense (DOD) Manual of Military7
Decorations & Awards.
Procedures Involving Recommendations for the MoH
[1.] The Secretary concerned shall establish procedures for processing
recommendations for the award of the MoH in his or her Military Department.
Minimally, those recommendations shall contain the endorsement of the
subordinate Unified Combatant Commander or the JTF Commander, if involved;
the Unified Combatant Commander concerned; and the Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff. After endorsement by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,
the recommendation shall be referred to the Secretary concerned for appropriate
[2.] The Army and Air Force MoH recommendations must be entered
formally into official channels in two years of the act warranting the
recommendation, and awarded in three years (except as provided in title 10
U.S.C. 3744 or 8744 ... and Section 1130 of title 10, U.S.C.... The Navy-Marine
Corps MoH recommendations must be formally entered into official channels in
three years of the act warranting the recommendation, and awarded in five
years.... However, a Member of Congress can request consideration of a proposal
for the award or presentation of a decoration not previously submitted in a timely
[3.] Recommendations for award of the MoH disapproved by a Secretary
of a Military Department, or Secretary of Defense, may only be resubmitted if
new, substantive and material information is provided in the time limits.... The
information forming the basis must have been previously unknown and not
considered by the recommending and disapproving officials. The determination
of the existence of the new material and substantive information being a basis for
reconsideration may not be delegated below the Service Secretary.

6 Title 10, U.S. Code, sec. 3741, Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 215; July 25, 1963, P.L.

88-77, sec. 1(1), 77 Stat. 93; sec. 6241, Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 389; July 25,

1963, P.L. 88-77, sec. 2(1), 77 Stat. 93; and, sec. 8741, Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat.

540; July 25, 1963, P.L. 88-77, sec. 3(1), 77 Stat. 93 . Title 10 also allows the President to
delegate his authority to award the Medal of Honor. Thus, the authority to award the Medal
lies with the President alone unless he so delegates others to do so in his place.
7 U.S. Department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of Defense (FMP), Manual of Military
Decorations & Awards, DoD 1348.33-M, September 1996.

[a.] The remaining bases for reconsideration are instances in which a
Secretary of a Military Department or the Secretary of Defense determines there
is evidence of material error or impropriety in the original processing of or
decision on a recommendation for award of the MoH. Examples of such
instances might be loss of accompanying and/or substantiating documents to the
recommendation or proven gender or racial discrimination. Determination of the
existence of material error or impropriety in the original processing and decision
shall not be delegated below the Secretary of a Military Department. In such
cases, the Secretary of Defense shall determine the need for legislation.
[b.] All other instances of reconsideration shall be limited to those in which
the formal recommendation was submitted in statutory time limits, the
recommendation was lost or inadvertently not acted upon, and when these facts
are conclusively established by the respective Secretary of a Military Service or
other official delegated appropriate authority. Those provisions are to protect the
integrity and purity of purpose of the MoH by ensuring that all relevant
information is submitted and considered while the actions are fresh in the minds
of the witnesses.
The process for restoration of a rescinded Medal of Honor is different. Since
the rescissions during World War I, no other MoH awards have been rescinded.
However, if a request for a restoration of a MoH were made, the process would be
different than the procedures noted above. For those seeking restoration of the Medal
of Honor, an appeal must be considered by the appropriate Board for Correction of
Military Records. This appeal is requested via the President, a Member of Congress,
or the Secretary of Defense. If the board recommends reinstatement, the decision is
passed to the service Secretary and then, ultimately, to the President.
Presentation of the MoH
When practical, presentation of the MoH shall be made by the President of
the United States, as CINC [Commander-in-Chief], in a formal ceremony in
Washington, D.C. As such, premature public disclosure of information
concerning recommendations, processing and approval or disapproval actions is
a potential source of embarrassment to those recommended and the Government.
Additionally, in the case of approved recommendations, it could diminish the
impact of ceremonies at which the presentation is made. Therefore, to prevent
premature disclosure, the policy of the Department is not to comment on any
MoH case under consideration. Accordingly, the processing of MoH
recommendations shall be handled on a “FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” basis
until the awards are announced officially or are presented.
Courtesies and Privileges Afforded MoH Recipients
[1.] Each recipient receives a monthly [1,069] dollar pension from the8

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
8 The Veterans Benefits Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-330) created a formula for future increases
in the Medal of Honor pension tied to the annual rate of inflation. Previously, each increase
in the Medal of Honor pension occurred as a result of an act of Congress. Effective
December 1, 2005, the pension is $1,069 per month..

[2.] Enlisted recipients who retire with 20 or more years of Military
Service receive a 10-percent increase in retired pay, not to exceed the 75 percent
[3.] Recipients are issued a special MoH Travel and Identification Card
signed by the Secretary of the Military Department. That entitles recipients who
are not on active duty and not miliary retirees to use space available military air
[4.] Unlike [active duty and reserve] military personnel and retirees, MoH
recipients may wear their uniforms at any time or place they choose.
[5.] Recipients who are not on active duty and not military retirees are
issued a DoD Identification Card, as are their family members. It authorizes
them military commissary, post exchange, and theater privileges. All of the
Services, consistent with DoD policy, authorize use of morale, welfare and
recreation activities, including honorary club membership without dues.
[6.] Children of MoH recipients are not subject to quotas if they are
qualified and desire to attend one of the U.S. military academies.
[7.] MoH recipients receive invitations to attend Presidential inaugurations
and accompanying festivities. Military recipients and those who are civil servants
have traditionally been authorized administrative absence in lieu of chargeable
leave to attend.
[8.] The VA provides a special engraved headstone for deceased recipients
of the MoH.
[9.] MoH recipients should be accorded on-base billeting commensurate
with the prestige associated with the MoH.
In 2000, Congress extended permissive health care benefits to Medal of Honor
recipients and their dependents in the same manner as is currently available to9
military retirees and their dependents.
Congressional and Other Efforts to
Award the Medal of Honor
Generally speaking, the originating request for military awards, including the
MoH, is made by the military commander or other appropriate uniformed personnel.
Those on the scene and/or those familiar with military operations are often
considered to be in the best position to observe the individual actions and make the
recommendation for award. It is considered appropriate, therefore, that military
personnel — that is, those familiar with human behavior under the stress of combat
situations — make the originating recommendations regarding this or other awards.

9 P.L. 106-398; 114 Stat. 1654, 1654A-175; October 30, 2000.

In a number of instances, Members of Congress or others have urged the
President to consider or reconsider an individual for the MoH. Over the years,
Members of Congress have offered numerous bills for this purpose. Much of this
legislation takes the form of extensive findings detailing the background, situation,
and exploits concerned. Where important, special mention may be made of the
reason(s) the MoH was not originally awarded (e.g., a presumption of racism, lost
documents recently uncovered, etc.). The legislation then resolves that
notwithstanding restrictions contained in Title 10 U.S.C. (i.e., restrictions pertaining
to time limits), the President is “requested” to award the MoH.10 In certain cases,
Congress has held hearings concerning the award.11
The handling of these requests, if and when forwarded to the services, varies
depending on whether the individual was originally recommended for the Medal of
Honor (or in certain cases, had already received the medal), versus those instances
in which no original recommendation was made.
Generally speaking, the services will not favorably consider awarding the MoH
unless the individual was originally recommended but did not receive the award
because of extenuating circumstances (e.g., the paperwork was lost and only
rediscovered, allegations exist that the individual’s award was downgraded for
reasons of racism, etc.). In nearly every case, specific findings of fact are required
that the individual was originally recommended or that the downgrade occurred
under questionable, but verifiable, circumstances. In these cases, a review may be
undertaken by the Board of Correction for Military Records (BCMR) of the
appropriate military department. Following the findings of the BCMR, the decision
is then passed to appropriate authorities for further and/or final consideration. This
approach has not usually been successful.
In cases where no original recommendation has been made, extensive and
reliable findings of valid facts must be presented. In these instances, since there is
no original record to “correct,” the BCMR is not necessarily involved in the
consideration process. Without an original recommendation, factual data supporting
the award, and compelling reasons for it to be awarded at a later date, it is very
unlikely that the MoH will be awarded. This is particularly so, given that a great deal
of time has often passed and eyewitnesses cannot be found, or do not clearly
remember the events in question.
Nevertheless, on numerous occasions, legislation has been introduced seeking
to have the MoH awarded. The legislation is assigned to the appropriate
committee/subcommittee. An executive comment is usually requested by the
committee. In most cases, the executive comment proves unfavorable and the
legislation is not reported out of committee.

10 For examples of legislation offered in the 109th Congress, see H.R. 561, H.R. 605, H.R.

708, H.R. 2674, and H.R. 2790.

11 See U.S. Congress, House Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Personnel and
Compensation, H.J.Res. 279, H.R. 1730, and H.R. 3401 (Vraciu Congressional Medal ofst
Honor and MIAs/KIAs), HASC No. 101-77, 101 Cong., 2d Sess., January 30, 1990; cited
from opening statement provided at the hearing.

In recent times, there have been a number of specific instances in which the
MoH was awarded or reinstated outside of the statutory time limits. In one case, the
award was renounced. The following are examples of these instances.
For his actions in Vietnam on May 2, 1968, MSgt. Roy Benavidez, U.S. Army,
was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (the second-highest Army award for
heroism below the MoH). His commander later recommended that the award be
upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The upgrade was denied until a missing eyewitness
was located in 1980. President Carter approved the upgrade on December 31, 1980.
On February 24, 1981, President Reagan awarded MSgt. Benavidez the MoH.12
MSgt Benavidez’s citation is provided later in this report.
The family of Marine Col. Donald G. Cook (deceased) received his MoH award
on May 16, 1980, for his services during captivity as a POW in North Vietnam from
December 31, 1964 through his death in captivity on December 8, 1967. Information
of his heroics were only obtained after the repatriation of other POWs. Col. Cook’s
award was delayed in part because he had not been officially declared dead.13
President Carter awarded the medal to former Lt. Col. Matt Urban (U.S. Army)
for his services during World War II. Urban’s battalion commander promised to
nominate him for the award but was killed in action. A review of Urban’s records
in 1978 revealed a copy of the proposed letter. There is no evidence, however, that
the letter was received by the headquarters of the 9th Infantry Division in Europe.
Under the provisions of the law, a President can make the final decision of awarding
the medal “at any later time in cases of administrative error.”14
On July 29, 1986, Charles Liteky, a former Army chaplain in Vietnam,
renounced his Medal of Honor in protest over U.S. policies in Central America.
Liteky’s is the only known case in which a Medal of Honor has been renounced.15
On April 24, 1991, President Bush awarded the MoH (posthumously) to Cpl.
Freddie Stowers, U.S. Army, for his services in World War I. Although blacks had
received the award for other conflicts before and since, Stowers was, at the time, the
only black to be awarded the MoH for either World War. This presentation followed
a review of the award by the Army into citation records to determine whether or not
blacks were treated fairly.16
Perhaps one of the more contentious awardings of the Medal of Honor involved
the case of the Civil War civilian contract surgeon Mary Edwards Walker. She was

12 Don Hirst, “Benavidez Receives Medal of Honor,” Army Times, March 9, 1981, p. 34.
Congress enacted P.L. 96-81 on December 18, 1980, removing the statutory time limit on
the award, thereby clearing the way for MSgt. Benavidez to receive the medal.
13 “Colonel Awarded Medal of Honor Posthumously,” Navy Times, May 26, 1980, p. 2.
14 “World War II Army hero awarded Medal of Honor 35 years later,” Army, September

1980, pp. 47-48.

15 “Veteran Returns Medal to Protest U.S. Policy,” Washington Post, July 30, 1986, p. B3.
16 “Medal of Honor For Black G.I.,” New York Times, April 6, 1991: 6.

awarded the Medal of Honor by President Andrew Johnson on November 11, 1865,
for “services rendered during the war.” She was an extremely flamboyant and
controversial character, and it has been argued that the award was made to placate her
for being terminated by the Army. As with certain other medal recipients of her day,
no specific act of heroism was cited for receiving it.17 Under the review panel’s
considerations, Dr. Walker’s award was stricken because she was not a member of
the armed forces and because her services did not involve “actual conflict with an
enemy, by gallantry or intrepidity, at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of
At the behest of distant relatives, Members of Congress and President Carter
contacted the Department of Defense on the matter. The Army Board for Corrections
of Military Records ruled (with one dissent) that the decision to rescind the award
was “unjust.” Although the board noted that if it had not been for her sex, she would
have been given a commission and her actions would have been those of a soldier,
no specific act of gallantry or heroism was noted. In 1977, her medal was restored.
The restoration of the medal remains highly contentious among both proponents and
opponents of this action.18
On September 12, 1980, President Carter awarded Anthony Casamento, a
Marine Corps veteran of combat against the Japanese on Guadalcanal during World
War II, the Medal of Honor. Lacking sufficient witnesses to attest to certain deeds,
military officials argued that Casamento should be awarded only the Navy Cross.
The President overruled the Pentagon (including the Secretary of Defense) and
awarded the MoH. Critics contend that President Carter’s action were timed for
political effect, as the President awarded the medal just prior to an election-year
appearance before the National Italian-American Foundation.19
Following the example of the reinstatement of the award to Dr. Walker, relatives
of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody sought reinstatement of his medal, in part on the
grounds that since Dr. Walker’s was reinstated, there existed a precedent for
awarding the medal to civilians who served with the military. Cody was originally
awarded the Medal of Honor on May 22, 1872, for his gallantry while serving as an
Army Scout on April 26, 1872, at the Platte River, Nebraska. At the request of a
U.S. Senator serving as the counsel for a relative, the Board for Correction of
Military Records recommended reinstatement of “Buffalo Bill” Cody’s medal, citing

17 In fact, numerous interpretations of her service record raise questions regarding her skills
and loyalty. Others have charged that these claims were the result of rampant sexism. Allen
D. Spiegel and Andrea M. Spiegel, “Civil War Doctoress Mary: Only Woman to Win
Congressional Medal of Honor,” Minerva: Quarterly Report on Women and the Military,
vol. XIII, no. 3, Fall 1994, p. 25.
18 See Gene Famiglietti, “MH Award to Dr. Walker Is Hit,” Army Times, June 1977, p. 4;
and Nick Adde, “Real American Heroes,” Army Times, April 11, 1988, p. 57.
19 Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, “Playing Politics with the Pentagon,” Washington
Post, September 12, 1980, p. A19.

in part the award of Dr. Walker.20 In June 1989, the U.S. Army Board of Correction
of Military Records restored the award, and on July 8, 1989, two Senators announced
the restoration of Cody’s medal.21 (Four others also had their medals reinstated by the
board in June 1989: Amos Chapman [Scout], William Dixon [Scout], James B.
Doshier [Post Guide], and William H. Woodall [Scout].)22
Throughout the years, many efforts to award or reinstate the Medal of Honor
have proven time-consuming and difficult. For example, advocates for Seaman
Doris (a.k.a. Dorie or Dorrie) Miller have sought for years to have his award
upgraded to the Medal of Honor. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on
December 7, 1941, while serving aboard the USS West Virginia as a mess attendant
(one of the only jobs available to blacks in the Navy at the beginning of World War
II), Seaman Miller moved his mortally wounded captain to safety. He then proceeded
to man a machine gun, successfully returning fire on the attacking Japanese. His
heroics were initially ignored. After strong civil rights protests, he was given a letter
of commendation. The letter of commendation was upgraded to the Navy Cross. A
destroyer escort was later named in his honor. Legislative and other efforts to
upgrade the Navy Cross to the Medal of Honor have proven unsuccessful. Noting
that, at the time, no blacks received the Medal of Honor during WWII, critics cite
racism as a main reason for refusing Seaman Miller this honor.
The reluctance to upgrade awards to the Medal of Honor or to award it outright
is generally based on efforts to award the medal to those truly deserving, to maintain
the integrity of the award itself and the awards process in general, and to avoid
“opening the floodgates” to retroactive requests for this and other awards and
decorations. This reluctance has led many to feel that the system of awarding medals
is overly restrictive and that certain individuals are denied earned medals.
It is noteworthy that two MoH awards have gone “unclaimed.”23
In the FY1996 National Defense Authorization Act,24 Congress enacted
language that could significantly affect potential recipients. First, Congress waived
the time limitation on any award or decoration for acts of valor during the Vietnam
era25 for actions in the Southeast Asia theater of operations. (Although the findings
section of the language implies the language pertains to operations in the Ia Drang
Valley, near Pleiku, South Vietnam, from October 23, 1965, to November 26, 1965,

20 U.S. Department of the Army, Board for the Correction of Military Records, Washington,
D.C., In the Case of: Cody, William F., AC88-10374, January 12, 1989.
21 “‘Buffalo Bill’ Regains Medal of Honor,” Washington Post, July 9, 1989, p. A5.
22 United States of America’s Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and Their Official
Citations (Minnesota: Highland House II, 1996), pp. 1118-1119.
23 Frank J.Murray, “Posthumous Medal of Honor ‘Unclaimed,’” Washington Times,
February 24, 2003, p. 4.
24 P.L. 104-106, Sec. 522, February 10, 1996.
25 “The term ‘Vietnam era’ means the period beginning on August 5, 1964, and ending on
May 7, 1975.” 38 U.S.C. 101(29).

no such limitation appears in the waiver statement. Indeed, medals — including the
MoH — were awarded for this action.)26 Under this language, the Secretary
concerned is instructed to review requests for consideration of awards/decorations,
and to submit the following to the House National Security Committee and the
Senate Armed Services Committee:
(A)A summary of the request consideration.
(B)The findings resulting from the review.
(C)The final action taken on the request for consideration.
Second, Congress waived the laws and regulations for awarding any decoration
(including the Medal of Honor) for those so deserving who were serving in
intelligence activities during the period January 1, 1940-December 31, 1990.27 The
Secretary of each military department was instructed to review each request for the
award of a decoration during a one-year period commencing February 10, 1996. This
was later extended to February 9, 1998.28 The Secretary was further instructed to file
a report with the House National Security Committee and Senate Armed Services
Committee with respect to each request. The report is to contain:
(A)A summary of the request consideration.
(B)The findings resulting from the review.
(C)The final action taken on the request for consideration.
(D)Administrative or legislative recommendations to improve award
procedures with respect to military intelligence personnel.
These actions were taken in consideration of the fact that the records regarding
intelligence activities are sealed for many years. Protecting this information for
intelligence reasons means that those involved in intelligence activities are often

26 According to the commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, a unit involved in combat at Ia
I had been pushing my staff hard as we wrote letters of condolence to the
families who had lost loved ones killed in action and prepared recommendations
for medals and awards. We had problems on the awards: We had few who could
type, so many of the forms were scrawled by hand by lanternlight. Many
witnesses had been evacuated with wounds or had already rotated for discharge.
Too many men had died bravely and heroically, while the men who had
witnessed their deeds had also been killed. Uncommon valor truly was a
common virtue on the field at Landing Zone X-Ray those three days and two
nights. Acts of valor that on other fields, on other days, would have been
rewarded with the Medal of Honor or Distinguished Service Cross or a Silver
Star were recognized only with a telegram saying “The Secretary of the Army
regrets ...”
LtGen Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway, We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young, Ia
Drang: The Battle that Changed the War in Vietnam (New York: Random House, 1992),
pp. 317-318.
27 P.L. 104-106, Sec. 523, February 10, 1996.
28 P.L. 105-85, Sec. 575, November 18, 1997.

ineligible to receive the Medal of Honor. In other words, should a person serving in
intelligence perform an act of heroism worthy of the MoH, it is unlikely that the
information could be publicly acknowledged. If the information is ever declassified,
it is usually years after the fact. This delay could well mean that the individual who
performed the act of heroism would be ineligible for the medal because of time on
making recommendations.
Third, Congress waived the time requirements and other restrictions and the
asked the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of the Navy to review the records
relating to the award of the Distinguished Service Cross and Navy Cross,
respectively, awarded to Asian Americans or Native American Pacific Islanders who
served during World War II.29 The purpose of this review is to determine whether
such awards should be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The reasoning for this
review is based on claims of discrimination that confronted Americans of Asian
descent during the war. (For example, many Americans of Japanese descent were
relocated to internment camps during the war.)
On October 12, 1998, it was reported that Army historians had completed a two-
year search for Asian American recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).
The names of 104 recipients (including Senator Daniel K. Inouye) were forwarded
to a board of senior officers. This board is to consider if any of the forwarded
recipients meet the criteria for an upgrade to MoH. According to the report, the
Army anticipates the board will recommend approximately ten recipients for
upgrading. The list of those considered worthy of upgrading is then submitted to the
President for final consideration. (The Navy has determined that its sole Asian-
American DSC recipient did not merit upgrading.) Proponents of the review/
upgrading view this process as an overdue recognition of the heroics of these
individuals long delayed by racism. Critics contend that the process is an act of
“race-based political correctness” that diminishes the value of the medal.30
Finally, Congress included a section entitled “Procedure for Consideration of
Military Decorations Not Previously Submitted In Timely Fashion.”31 Under this
(a) Upon request of a Member of Congress, the Secretary concerned shall
review a proposal for the award or presentation of a decoration (or the upgrading
of a decoration), either for an individual or a unit, that is not otherwise
authorized to be presented or awarded due to limitations established by law or
policy for timely submission of a recommendation for such award or
presentation. Based on such review, the Secretary shall make a determination as
to the merits of approving the award or presentation of the decoration and other
determinations necessary to comply with subsection (b).

29 P.L. 104-106, Sec. 524, February 10, 1996.
30 Martin Kasindorf, “Veterans Might Get Late Medals of Honor,” USA Today, October 2,

1998, p. 2.

31 P.L. 104-106, Sec. 526, February 10, 1996.

(b) Upon making a determination under subsection (a) as to the merits of
approving the award or presentation of the decoration, the Secretary concerned
shall submit to the Committee on Armed Services of the Senate and the
Committee on National Security of the House of Representatives and to the
requesting member of Congress notice in writing of one of the following:
(1)The award or presentation of the decoration does not
warrant approval on the merits.
(2)The award or presentation of the decoration warrants
approval and a waiver by law of time restrictions
prescribed by law is recommended.
(3)The award or presentation of the decoration warrants
approval on the merits and has been approved as an
exception to policy.
(4)The award or presentation of the decoration warrants
approval on the merits, but a waiver of the time
restrictions prescribed in law is not recommended.
A notice under paragraph (1) and (4) shall be accompanied by a statement of the32
reasons for the decision of the Secretary.
Under this language Members of Congress will be able to directly request the
Secretary to consider awarding military decorations. Although this allows Members
to better serve their constituents as well as fulfill their constitutional duties in
providing oversight, critics contend that it may unduly politicize the awards process.
In April 1996, despite restrictions on discussing awarding the Medal of Honor
prematurely, the White House announced that it plans to award the medal to seven
black soldiers who fought in World War II.33 Although a number of Members of
Congress34 had been working in favor of awarding certain of these individuals
medals, the White House announced that these awards would be forthcoming. On
May 13, 1996, the Senate included a section in its version of the FY1997 National
Defense Authorization Act waiving the time limits for awarding the Medal of Honor
(1) Vernon J. Baker, who served as a first lieutenant in the 370th Infantry
Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division.

32 U.S. Congress, House Conference Committee, National Defense Authorization Act for
Fiscal Year 1996, 104th Cong., 2d sess., S. 1124, H.Rept. 104-450, January 22, 1996, pp.


33 Rick Weiss, “Seven Blacks in Line for Medal of Honor,” Washington Post, April 28,

1996, p. A10.

34 In the case of Ruben Rivers, his white commanding officer, David Williams, had sought
for years to see that Rivers was awarded the Medal of Honor. After seeing to it that his unit
received the Presidential Unit Citation in 1978, Williams was “[i]nvigorated by that victory
[and] shifted his sights to Sergeant Rivers’s Medal of Honor. Now, with the help of Sen.
James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, victory is at
hand.” Joseph L. Galloway, “One Officer’s 52-Year Quest,” U.S. News and World Report,
May 6, 1996, pp. 40-41.

(2) Edward A. Carter, who served as a staff sergeant in the 56th Armored
Infantry Battalion, 12th Armored Division.
(3) John R. Fox, who served as a first lieutenant in the 366th Infantry
Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division.
(4) Willy F. James, Jr., who served as a private first class in the 413th
Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division.
(5) Ruben Rivers, who served as a staff sergeant in the 761st Tank
(6) Charles L. Thomas, who served as a first lieutenant in the 614th Tank
Destroyer Battalion.
(7) George Watson, who served as a private in the 29th Quartermaster
In the cases of Vernon J. Baker, Edward A. Carter, and Charles L. Thomas, their
Medal of Honor pensions were awarded retroactively.36
On January 20, 1998, President Clinton awarded retired U.S. Marine Corps
Major General James Day the Medal of Honor for his heroism as a Marine corporal
during the battle for Okinawa in 1945. The original paperwork for his award was
lost. Faded carbon copies of the recommendation surfaced in a fellow Marine’s
memorabilia and served as the basis for going forward with the award.37
Later in the same year, former U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Robert Ingram
was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Clinton. Ingram’s “comrades
discovered at a 1995 reunion that he was alive and had never been decorated for his
heroism....”38 The Navy claimed to have lost the original paperwork. Following the
congressionally mandated waiver of the time limits in November 1997, a review of
Ingram’s record resulted in the awarding of the medal.
In a symbolic gesture, then-President Reagan awarded the medal to the Vietnam
veteran interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery in 1984. On
May 14, 1998, the remains of the Vietnam veteran were exhumed. Advances in
forensic identification using DNA testing allowed the military to positively identify
the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Blassie, an A-37 pilot who was
killed in the battle of An Loc, Vietnam, on May 11, 1972. His remains were returned
to his family in Missouri. Family members sought to retain the medal awarded in
1984 by President Reagan. The request to retain the medal was denied. “[I]n a letter
to the family..., Undersecretary of Defense Rudy de Leon said the Pentagon had

35 P.L. 104-201, Sec. 561, September 23, 1996.
36 P.L. 105-85, Sec. 577, November 18, 1997.
37 Associated Press, “Marine General James L. Day, 73, Dies; Okinawa Battle Hero,”
Washington Post, November 2, 1998.
38 Associated Press, “A 32-year Wait for the Medal of Honor,” Washington Post, July 11,

1998, p. 3.

decided that the medal had been a symbolic award to all service members who lost
their lives in the conflict and not to any individual service member.”39
“A decade-long effort by Congress to honor black war heroes has culminated
in a strange result: Theodore Roosevelt, a famous white man, may soon receive the
Medal of Honor — for a battle some historians say was won by black soldiers.”40
The efforts of historians searching for cases justifying the presentation of the award
to black service members in the World Wars, and the legislation allowing Congress
to waive time restraints for such and other cases, unearthed the controversy regarding
Roosevelt. Under the time waiver Congress enacted in 1996, Representative Paul
McHale introduced legislation requesting the President to award the MoH to then-
Army Lt. Col. Theodore Roosevelt for his actions on July 1, 1898, in the attack of
San Juan Heights, Cuba, during the Spanish-American War. Representative McHale
argued that the Medal was not awarded because of resentment generated as a result
of Roosevelt’s criticism of the War Department.41 Although it has been reported that
the Army opposes presenting the MoH to Roosevelt, President Clinton signed the bill
into law42 and requested the Army to reconsider. Representatives of “Buffalo
soldiers” claim that providing the award to Roosevelt would give him (Roosevelt)
credit for “their success” in battle. Proponents contend this is an opportunity to
amend a 100-year slight. Still others view this as the continuation of “identity
politics” driving the awarding of the Medal of Honor.
On March 29, 2001, Representative Joe Baca introduced legislation (H.R. 1294)
that would require that the metal content of the MoH be 90 percent gold and 10
percent alloy. This legislation has been reintroduced in subsequent Congresses.43 An
unfavorable executive comment was received.
Statutory Restrictions
(a) In General. — Whoever knowingly wears, manufactures, or sells any
decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United
States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such
forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal,
or any colorable imitation thereof, except when authorized under regulations
made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title [18 U.S. Code] or imprisoned
not more than six months or both.
(b) Congressional Medal of Honor. —
(1) In General. — If a decoration or medal involved in an offense
under subsection (a) is a Congressional Medal of Honor, in lieu of the

39 Steve Vogel, “Medal Honoring ‘Unknowns’ Won’t Go to Family of Identified Pilot,”
Washington Post, August 22, 1998, p. 5.
40 Glenn R. Simpson, “Long Campaign to Get Teddy a Medal May Lead to a Slight of Black
Heroes,” Wall Street Journal, November 13, 1998, p. 1.
41 Congressional Record, October 8, 1998, pp. H10121-10126.
42 P.L. 105-371, November 12, 1998.
43 In the 109th Congress, see H.R. 2531.

punishment provided in that subsection, the offender shall be fined under
this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
(2) Definitions. — (A) As used in subsection (a) with respect to a
Congressional Medal of Honor, “sells” includes trades, barters, or44
exchanges for anything of value.
The discharge certificate (DD 214) of a recipient of the Medal of Honor carries
a notation of this award.

44 This language was the result of changes created by P.L. 103-322, 108 Stat. 2113,
September 13, 1994. This language increased the penalties to up to one year imprisonment
and/or up to $100,000 fine for violations involving the Medal of Honor. Prior to this
change, the law stated:
Whoever knowingly wears, manufactures, or sells any decoration or medal
authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the
service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon,
button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable
imitation thereof, except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to
law, shall be fined not more than $250 or imprisoned not more than six months,
or both.

The following are sample citations of Medal of Honor recipients. (An asterisk
indicates a posthumous award.)
Coates, Jefferson
Rank and organization: Corporal, Company I, 14th Michigan Infantry. Place
and date: At Gettysberg, Pa., 1 July 1863. Entered service at: Boscobel, Wis.
Birth: Grant County, Wis. Date of issue: 29 June 1866. Citation: Unsurpassed
courage in battle, where he had both eyes shot out.
Edgerton, Nathan H.
Rank and organization: Lieutenant and Adjutant, 6th United States Colored
Troops. Place and date: At Chapins Farm, Va., 29 September 1864. Entered
service at: Philadelphia, Pa. Birth: ____. Date of issue: 30 March 1898. Citation:
Took up the flag after three color bearers had been shot down and bore forward,
though himself wounded.
Brant, Abram B.
Rank and organization: Private, Company D, 7th United States Cavalry. Place
and date: At Little Big Horn, Mont., 25 June 1876. Entered service at: ____. Birth:
New York, N.Y. Date of issue: 5 October 1878. Citation: Brought water for the
wounded under a most galling fire.
*Von Schlick, Robert H.
Rank and organization: Private, Company C, 9th United States Infantry. Place
and date: At Tientsin, China, 13 July 1900. Entered service at: San Francisco,
Calif. Birth: Germany. Date of issue: Unknown. Citation: Although previously
wounded while carrying a wounded comrade to a place of safety, rejoined his
command, which partly occupied an exposed position upon a dike, remaining there
after his command had been withdrawn, singly keeping up the fire, and obliviously
presenting himself as a conspicuous target until he was literally shot off his position
by the enemy.
*Flaherty, Francis C.
Rank and organization: Ensign, U.S. Naval Reserve. Born: 15 March 1919,
Charlotte, Mich. Accredited to: Michigan. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to

duty and extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and
beyond the call of duty, during the attack on Pearl Harbor, by Japanese forces on 7
December 1941. When it was seen that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was going to capsize
and the order was given to abandon ship, Ensign Flaherty remained in a turret,
holding a flashlight so the remainder of the turret crew could escape, thereby
sacrificing his own life.
*Gilmore, Howard Walter
Rank and organization: Commander, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 September 1902,
Selma, Ala. Appointed from: Louisiana. Other Navy award: Navy Cross with one
gold star. Citation: For distinguished gallantry and valor above and beyond the call
of duty as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Growler during her Fourth War Patrol
in the Southwest Pacific from 10 January to 7 February 1943. Boldly striking at the
enemy in spite of continuous hostile air and anti-submarine patrols, Commander
Gilmore sank one Japanese freighter and damaged another by torpedo fire,
successfully evading severe depth charges following each attack. In the darkness of
night on 7 February, enemy gunboat closed range and prepared to ram the Growler.
Commander Gilmore daringly maneuvered to avoid the crash and rammed the
attacker instead, ripping into her port side at 17 knots and bursting wide her plates.
In the terrific fire of the sinking gunboat’s heavy machine guns, Commander Gilmore
calmly gave the order to clear the bridge, and refusing safety for himself, remained
on the deck while his men preceded him below. Struck down by the fusillade of
bullets and having done his utmost against the enemy, in his final living moments,
Commander Gilmore gave his last order to the officer of the deck, “Take her down.”
The Growler dived; seriously damaged but under control, she was brought safely to
port by her well-trained crew inspired by the courageous fighting spirit of their dead
*Bobo, John P.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps
Reserve, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division (Rein) FMF. Place and
date: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam, 30 March 1967. Entered service
at: Buffalo, N.Y. Date and place of birth: February 14, 1943, Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and
beyond the call of duty. Company I was establishing night ambush sites when the
command group was attacked by a reinforced North Vietnamese company supported
by heavy automatic weapons and mortar fire. Lieutenant Bobo immediately
organized a hasty defense and moved from position to position encouraging the
outnumbered Marines despite the murderous enemy fire. Recovering a rocket
launcher from among friendly casualties, he organized a new launcher team and
directed its fire into the enemy machine gun positions. When an exploding enemy
mortar round severed Lieutenant Bobo’s right leg below the knee, he refused to be
evacuated and insisted upon being placed in a firing position to cover the movement
of the command group to a better location. With a web belt around his leg serving
as a tourniquet and with his leg jammed into the dirt to curtail the bleeding, he
remained in this position and delivered devastating fire into the ranks of the enemy

attempting to overrun the Marines. Lieutenant Bobo was mortally wounded while
firing his weapon into the mainpoint of the enemy attack but his valiant spirit
inspired his men to heroic efforts, and his tenacious stand enabled the command
group to gain a protective position where it repulsed the enemy onslaught.
Lieutenant Bobo’s superb leadership, dauntless courage, and bold initiative reflected
great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and
the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.
Benavidez, Roy P.
Rank and Organization: Master Sergeant, Detachment B-56, 5th Special Forces
Group, Republic of Vietnam. Place and Date: West of Loc Ninh on 2 May 1968.
Entered Service at: Houston, Texas June 1955. Date and Place of Birth: 5 August

1935, DeWitt County, Cuero, Texas. Master Sergeant (then Staff Sergeant) Roy P.

Benavidez United States Army, who distinguished himself by a series of daring and
extremely valorous actions on 2 May 1968 while assigned to Detachment B56, 5th
Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Republic of Vietnam. On the
morning of 2 May 1968, a 12-man Special Forces Reconnaissance Team was inserted
by helicopters in a dense jungle area west of Loc Ninh, Vietnam to gather intelligence
information about confirmed large-scale enemy activity. This area was controlled and
routinely patrolled by the North Vietnamese Army. After a short period of time on
the ground, the team met heavy enemy resistance, and requested emergency
extraction. Three helicopters attempted extraction, but were unable to land due to
intense enemy small arms and anti-aircraft fire. Sergeant Benavidez was at the
Forward Operating Base in Loc Ninh monitoring the operation by radio when these
helicopters returned to off-load wounded crewmembers and to assess aircraft
damage. Sergeant Benavidez voluntarily boarded a returning aircraft to assist in
another extraction attempt. Realizing that all the team members were either dead or
wounded and unable to move to the pickup zone, he directed the aircraft to a nearby
clearing where he jumped from the hovering helicopter, and ran approximately 75
meters under withering small arms fire to the crippled team. Prior to reaching the
team’s position he was wounded in his right leg, face, and head. Despite these painful
injuries, he took charge, repositioning the team members and directing their fire to
facilitate the landing of an extraction aircraft, and the loading of wounded and dead
team members. He then threw smoke canisters to direct the aircraft to the team’s
position. Despite his severe wounds and under intense enemy fire, he carried and
dragged half of the wounded team members to the awaiting aircraft. He then provided
protective fire by running alongside the aircraft as it moved to pick up the remaining
team members. As the enemy’s fire intensified, he hurried to recover the body and
classified documents on the dead team leader. When he reached the leader’s body,
Sergeant Benavidez was severely wounded by small arms fire in the abdomen and
grenade fragments in his back. At nearly the same moment, the aircraft pilot was
mortally wounded, and his helicopter crashed. Although in extremely critical
condition due to his multiple wounds, Sergeant Benavidez secured the classified
documents and made his way back to the wreckage, where he aided the wounded out
of the overturned aircraft, and gathered the stunned survivors into a defensive
perimeter. Under increasing enemy automatic weapons and grenade fire, he moved
around the perimeter distributing water and ammunition to his weary men,
reinstilling in them a will to live and fight. Facing a buildup of enemy opposition

with a beleaguered team, Sergeant Benavidez mustered his strength, began calling
in tactical air strikes and directed the fire from supporting gunships to suppress the
enemy’s fire and so permit another extraction attempt. He was wounded again in his
thigh by small arms fire while administering first aid to a wounded team member just
before another extraction helicopter was able to land. His indomitable spirit kept him
going as he began to ferry his comrades to the craft. On his second trip with the
wounded, he was clubbed with additional wounds to his head and arms before killing
his adversary. He then continued under devastating fire to carry the wounded to the
helicopter. Upon reaching the aircraft, he spotted and killed two enemy soldiers who
were rushing the craft from an angle that prevented the aircraft door gunner from
firing upon them. With little strength remaining, he made one last trip to the
perimeter to ensure that all classified material had been collected or destroyed, and
to bring in the remaining wounded. Only then, in extremely serious condition from
numerous wounds and loss of blood, did he allow himself to be pulled into the
extraction aircraft. Sergeant Benavidez’ gallant choice to join voluntarily his
comrades who were in critical straits, to expose himself constantly to withering
enemy fire, and his refusal to be stopped despite numerous severe wounds, saved the
lives of at least eight men. His fearless personal leadership, tenacious devotion to
duty, and extremely valorous actions in the face of overwhelming odds were in
keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect the utmost
credit on him and the United States Army.
*Smith, Paul R.
Rank and Organization: Sergeant First Class, United States Army. For
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call
of duty. Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry
and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near
Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant
First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area
when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force.
Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith
quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley
Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed,
Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy
with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three
wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled
grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses,
Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber
machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for
his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking
enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions
helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed,
while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First
Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the
highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the
Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Table 1. Medal of Honor Breakdown by War and Service
(as of March 22, 2006)
To t a l Air Coast
rAwardsArmyNavyMarinesForceGuardPosthumousCivilianAir Corps
vil War1522119830717 32(2) Navy (2) Army
dian Campaigns426426 13(4) Army
rea 187115 96
anish American110316415 1
oa4 13
ilippine Insurrection806956 4
519ilippine Outlaws615
xer Rebellion5942233 1
ican Campaign561469
iki/CRS-95-iti6 6
g/wminican Republic3 3
s.ord War I12495218 33 Army (4)
leak19202 2
://wikicaraguan Campaign2 2 d War II4643245782 1266 Army (37)
httprean War132797424 94
etnam245159165713 154
malia22 2
Terror (Iraq)11 1
n-Combat19331855 5Army (1)
wns99 9
These totals reflect the total number of Medals of Honor awarded. Nineteen (19) men received a second award. Fourteen (14) of these men received two (2) for separate actions,
(5) received the Navy and Army Medals for Honor for the same action. Table courtesy of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, 40 Patriots Point Road, Mt. Pleasant, SC,
al Medals of Honor Awarded3461
al Numbers of Medal of Honor Recipients 3442
mber of Double Recipients 19
March 22, 2006, there are 119 living Medal of Honor recipients.