Medal of Honor: Fascinating Facts

Background

The Medal of Homor was first suggested shortly after the beginning of the Civil War.  Congress passed the law on December 21, 1861 authorizing President Abraham Lincoln to authorize 200 Navy Medals of Honor.  A second congressional act followed on July 12, 1862, allowing Lincoln to authorize an Army Medal of Honor.  The first Medal of Honor ceremony occurred on March 25, 1863.

Awards by War (Top 10)

WAR TOTAL
Civil War

1,522

World War II

464

Indian Wars

426

Vietnam War

247

Korean War

135

World War I

124

Spanish-American War (1898)

110

Philippines War (1899-1902)

71

China (Boxer Rebellion, 1900)

58

Vera Cruz, Mexico (1914)

55

Awards by Service

BRANCH TOTAL POSTHUMOUS
Army

2,411

428

Navy

747

55

Marines

298

129

Air Force

18

9

Coast Guard

1

1

Total

3,475

622

Fascinating Facts

  • Of the 3,456 MOH recipients, 21% of them were born in 38 other countries.
  • 81 MOH recipients were living as of April 10, 2012.
  • The only Coast Guard recipient (posthumous) was Signalmen 1st Class Douglas Albert Munro for his heroism during the evacuation of a Marine detachment on Guadalcanal on September 27, 1942.
  • Nineteen men earned the MOH twice. Among those, five Marines during WWI earned a Navy and Army Medal of Honor for the same action.
  • The youngest recipient ever was 12-year-old Willie Johnston, a musician in O Company, 3rd Vermont Infantry, for displaying fortitude following the Seven Days battle in 1862 in Virginia.
  • 125 Medals of Honor were awarded for the Battle of Vicksburg, the highest of any battle in the Civil War.
  • The largest group of awards for a single action went to 59 Union soldiers who were part of the “volunteer storming party,” which assaulted the fortress of Vicksburg on May 22, 1863.
  • The MOH has been awarded to five sets of  brothers. The first set was Col. John Charles Black and Capt. William Black, both earned during the Civil War.
  • The only instance in which one MOH recipient saved the life of another occurred during the Vietnam War when Navy SEAL Petty Officer Michael Thornton rescued wounded SEAL 2nd Lt. Thomas Norris on Oct. 31, 1972. Norris later received the MOH for a previous action.
  •  37 MOH recipients used false names, as they had done on their military records, or because they changed their names after receiving the award.
  •  The MOH has been awarded to two father/son pairs: 1st Lt. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. (Civil War) and Gen. Douglas MacArthur (WWII): President Theodore Roosevelt (Spanish-American War) and Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (WWII).
  •  An act of Congress established the Air Force Medal of Honor on July 6, 1960.
  • Though the Confederacy had no medal for bravery during the war, the Sons of Confederate Veterans created a Confederate Medal of Honor in 1968. At least 42 have been awarded.

SOURCE: Congressional Medal of Honor Society

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