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. Only 3,500 Recipients in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have been awarded this acknowledgement of extraordinary achievement in military service.
The original Medal of Honor was designed for the Navy. The design included an inverted, five-pointed star with a cluster of laurel leaves (for victory), mixed with oak (for strength) on each of the star's five points. The design featured Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom and War, and a man clutching snakes in his hand, representing discord, who is recoiling from Minerva. The original red, white and blue ribbon was replaced with a blue silk ribbon bearing 13 stars, symbolic of the 13 colonies. The Navy, Army and Air Force Medals now all hang from this same blue silk ribbon.See Recipients
The Army Medal of Honor was created soon after the original Navy Medal of Honor in 1862. The eagle, a symbol of the United States, is perched on a cannon, grasping a saber in its talons. In 1904, a new version of the Medal appeared, called the Gillespie version for its designer, Medal recipient Gen. Gillespie. A simple portrait of a helmeted Goddess of War replaced "Minerva repelling Discord." The red, white and blue ribbon was replaced with light blue and 13 white stars.See Recipients
About 50 percent larger than the other Medals, the Air Force created its Medal in 1965. The first Air Force Medal went to Maj. Bernard F. Fisher in 1967, for action in South Vietnam. The first airman to receive a Medal, however, was the famous fighter pilot Capt. Edward Rickenbacker, in 1918.See Recipients
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