The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. The Medal is generally presented to Recipients by the President of the United States.
View all the milestones of the Congressional Medal of Honor through the years.
Army Assistant Surgeon Bernard J.D. Irwin rescues the 60 soldiers of 2d Lt. George Bascom's unit at Apache Pass, AZ. Though the Medal of Honor had not yet been proposed in Congress (and actually wouldn't even be presented to Irwin until 1894, it was the First heroic act for which the Medal of Honor would be awarded).
Iowa Senator James W. Grimes introduced S. No. 82 in the United States Senate, a bill designed to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by authorizing the production and distribution of "medals of honor". On December 21st the bill was passed, authorizing 200 such medals be produced "which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." President Lincoln signed the bill and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born.
Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson introduced a similar bill, this one to authorize "the President to distribute medals to privates in the Army of the United States who shall distinguish themselves in battle." Over the following months wording changed slightly as the bill made its way through Congress. When President Abraham Lincoln signed S.J.R. No. 82 on July 12, 1862, the Army Medal of Honor was born.
President Lincoln approves the legislation authorizing the preparation of 2,000 Medals of Honor to "be presented, in the name of the Congress, to such non-commissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities." Already 88 soldiers have performed heroic actions that will be ultimately awarded Medals of Honor.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton presents the first Medals of Honor to six of the surviving members of Andrew's Raiders. They are the first Medals ever presented.
Rather than grant Dr. Mary Walker's request for a commission in the U.S. Army, President Johnson orders that she be given the Medal of Honor. (The award was revoked in the purge of 1917, then restored in 1977).
Three sailors earn Medals of Honor for action in Korea. These were the first Medals of Honor earned on foreign soil. Over the following two days twelve more Americans earn Medals of honor...9 sailors and 6 Marines in all.
The President is authorized to present "a suitable Medal of Honor to be awarded to any officer of the Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard who shall have distinguished himself in battle or displayed extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession." Previously the award was reserved for enlisted personnel ONLY, but this act made it available to officers as well. (38 Stat. 928, 931)
The Medal of Honor review board released its findings, striking the names of 911 medal Recipients from the honor roll. The stricken names included all the medals awarded to the 27th Maine, 29 members of President Lincoln's funeral guard, and six civilians (whose courage the board did not deny, but who were ruled ineligible for the Medal due their civilian status). Five of the civilians were scouts from the Indian Campaigns including Buffalo Bill Cody. The sixth was Civil War Assistant Surgeon Mary Walker. Though she had participated in major campaigns from Bull Run to Chickamauga, even endured three months as a Confederate prisoner of war, her civilian status denied her continued recognition as a Medal of Honor Recipient.
Commander Willis Winter Bradley, Jr. aboard the U.S.S. Pittsburgh becomes the first Medal of Honor Recipient of World War I. In all 119 soldiers, sailors, marines, and for the first time AIRMEN performed heroism meriting their nation's highest award over the following two years.
Five minutes before Japanese aircraft fell upon Pearl Harbor, the air field at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii was attacked. There Navy Lieutenant John Finn earned the first Medal of Honor of World War II. Fourteen more sailors earned Medals of Honor that day at Pearl Harbor, ten of them posthumously.
At Guadalcanal Canadian Born Douglas Munro becomes the first, and ONLY, member of the U.S. Coast Guard to receive the Medal of Honor. Munro was killed in action during his moment of valor.
The CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR SOCIETY is formed. On September 16, 1948, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society is incorporated.
General William F. Dean and George Dalton Libby earn the first Medals of Honor of the Korean War. Libby was killed in action and General Dean was taken as a Prisoner of War.
Legislation is authorized providing members of the United States Air Force with their own, distinctive design for an Air Force Medal of Honor separate from that of the Navy and Army.
Congress amended Titles 10 and 14 of the US code establishing criteria and guidelines for award of the Medal of Honor: It would be awarded for action against an enemy of the United States, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly forces (such as was the case with the UN forces in Korea) in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Army Special Forces Captain Roger Donlon becomes the first Medal of Honor hero of the Vietnam war.
Army Secretary Clifford Alexander, Jr. orders the restoration of the Civil War award of the Medal of Honor to Dr. Mary E. Walker. She is the only woman ever awarded the Medal of Honor.
Two Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta members, Gary Gordon and Randall Shughart, are killed in action during a rescue mission in Somalia. When President Clinton presented Medals of Honor to their widows on 23 May 1994 their heroism was recorded as the only Medal of Honor actions to occur in the 1990s.
Army Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith is the first Recipient of the Medal of Honor for the war in Iraq. His medal was presented posthumously.
Army Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta becomes the first living Recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War.
The BOARD OF GENERALS authorized in previous legislation convened under Lt. General Nelson Miles, a Medal Recipient from the Civil War. Every award of the Army Medal of Honor since the Civil War was reviewed. The Recipients were anonymous to the board, represented only by a number.
The award itself is called the Medal of Honor, and does not include the word Congressional. In 1958, President Dwight Eisenhower signed legislation sent to him by Congress chartering the "Congressional Medal of Honor Society" to create a bond of brotherhood and comradeship among all living Recipients of the Medal of Honor. The CMOH Society then created the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to support and perpetuate the legacy of the Medal of Honor and its Recipients.
There have been two pairs of father and son Recipients. They were Lt. Arthur MacArthur (Civil War) and his son General Douglas MacArthur (WWII) and Lt. Col. (later President) Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish American War) and his son Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (WWII).
It is illegal to buy, sell, barter, or manufacture any decorations or medals authorized by Congress for the United States armed forces. This includes the Medal of Honor.
Misrepresentation of one's self as a Medal of Honor Recipient is a CRIME punishable by imprisonment.
It is not required to be a U.S. citizen to be awarded the Medal, but you must be in the U.S. military in order to qualify for the Medal of Honor.
President Theodore Roosevelt is the only president to be awarded the Medal of Honor. It was long after his death on January 16, 2001, for his gallantry in charging up San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War.