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Valentine Ignatov
Valentine Ignatov

Medal Of Honor

The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the United States Armed Forces' highest military decoration and is awarded to recognize American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians and coast guardsmen who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor.[1][7] The medal is normally awarded by the president of the United States, but as it is presented "in the name of the United States Congress", it is sometimes referred to as the "Congressional Medal of Honor".[2][8][9][10]

Medal of Honor

There are three distinct variants of the medal: one for the Army, awarded to soldiers, one for the Naval Service, awarded to sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen, and one for the Air and Space Forces, awarded to airmen and guardians.[1][11] The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Naval Service in 1861, soon followed by the Army's version in 1862. The Air Force used the Army's version until they received their own distinctive version in 1965.[12] The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States Armed Forces.[13] The president typically presents the Medal of Honor at a formal ceremony intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin.[14][15][16]

In 1896, the ribbon of the Army's version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned with all stripes being vertical.[34] Again, in 1904 the planchet of the Army's version of the Medal of Honor was redesigned by General George Lewis Gillespie.[34] The purpose of the redesign was to help distinguish the Medal of Honor from other medals,[35] particularly the membership insignia issued by the Grand Army of the Republic.[36]

In 1917, based on the report of the Medal of Honor Review Board, established by Congress in 1916, 911 recipients were stricken off the Army's Medal of Honor list because the medal had been awarded inappropriately.[37] Among them were William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody and Mary Edwards Walker. In 1977, the Army's board for correction of military records unilaterally restored Walker's medal at the request of a relative.[38] This was problematic for a number of reasons; the board had no authority to overturn a statute, and the restoration violated not only the period law during the Civil War, but also the law requiring revocation in 1916, and modern law in 1977.[38] As a reaction to Walker's restoration, a relative of Buffalo Bill Cody's requested the same action from the Army's board for correction, and it reinstated the medals for Cody and four other civilian scouts on June 12, 1989.[39]

A separate design for a version of the medal for the Department of the Air Force was created in 1956, authorized in 1960, and officially adopted on April 14, 1965. Previously, airmen of the U.S. Air Force received the Army's version of the medal.[41]

There are three versions of the Medal of Honor, one for each of the military departments of the Department of Defense (DoD): the Department of the Army, Department of the Navy (Naval Service), and Department of the Air Force (Air and Space Forces). Members of the Coast Guard, part of the Department of Homeland Security, are eligible to receive the Naval version. Each medal is constructed differently and the components are made from gilding metals and red brass alloys with some gold plating, enamel, and bronze pieces. The United States Congress considered a bill in 2004 which would require the Medal of Honor to be made with 90% gold, the same composition as the lesser-known Congressional Gold Medal, but the measure was dropped.[42]

The Naval version is described as "a five-pointed bronze star, tipped with trefoils containing a crown of laurel and oak. In the center is Minerva, personifying the United States, standing with her left hand resting on fasces and her right hand holding a shield emblazoned with the shield from the coat of arms of the United States. She repulses Discord, represented by snakes (originally, she was repulsing the snakes of secession). The medal is suspended from the flukes of an anchor. It is made of solid red brass, oxidized and buffed.[45]

The Medal of Honor has evolved in appearance over time. The upside-down star design of the Naval version's pendant adopted in early 1862 has not changed since its inception. The Army's 1862 version followed and was identical to the Naval version except an eagle perched atop cannons was used instead of an anchor to connect the pendant to the suspension ribbon. The medals featured a female allegory of the Union, with a shield in her right hand that she used to fend off a crouching attacker and serpents. In her left hand, she held a fasces. There are 34 stars surrounding the scene, representing the number of states in the union at the time.[47] In 1896, the Army version changed the ribbon's design and colors due to misuse and imitation by nonmilitary organizations.[43] In 1904, the Army "Gillespie" version introduced a smaller redesigned star and the ribbon was changed to the light blue pattern with white stars seen today.[43] The 1904 Army version also introduced a bar with the word "Valor" above the star.[47] In 1913, the Naval version adopted the same ribbon pattern.

In 1944, the suspension ribbons for both versions were replaced with the now-familiar neck ribbon.[43] When the Air and Space Force's version was designed in 1956, it incorporated similar elements and design from the Army version. At the Department of the Air Force leadership's insistence, the new medal depicted the Statue of Liberty's image in place of Minerva on the medal and changed the connecting device from an eagle to Jupiter's thunderbolt flanked with wings as found on the Department of the Air Force's seal.[56][57][58]

The flag was based on a concept by retired U.S. Army Special Forces First Sergeant Bill Kendall of Jefferson, Iowa,[69] who in 2001, designed a flag to honor Medal of Honor recipient Army Air Forces Captain Darrell Lindsey, a B-26 pilot from Jefferson who was killed in action during World War II. Kendall's design of a light blue field emblazoned with 13 white five-pointed stars was nearly identical to that of Sarah LeClerc's of the Institute of Heraldry. LeClerc's gold-fringed flag, ultimately accepted as the official flag, does not include the words "Medal of Honor" as written on Kendall's flag. The color of the field and the 13 white stars, arranged in the form of a three-bar chevron, consisting of two chevrons of five stars and one chevron of three stars,[2] emulate the suspension ribbon of the Medal of Honor. The flag has no defined proportions.[70]

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] [Air Force] [Coast Guard], distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.[95]

Medal of Honor recipients may apply in writing to the headquarters of the service branch of the medal awarded for a replacement or display Medal of Honor, ribbon, and appurtenance (Medal of Honor flag) without charge. Primary next of kin may also do the same and have any questions answered in regard to the Medal of Honor that was awarded.[127]

The 1917 Medal of Honor Board deleted 911 awards, but only 910 names from the Army's Medal of Honor list,[134] including awards to Mary Edwards Walker, William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody and the first of two awards issued February 10, 1887, to George W. Mindil, who retained his award issued October 25, 1893. None of the 910 "deleted" recipients were ordered to return their medals, although on the question of whether the recipients could continue to wear their medals, the Judge Advocate General advised the Medal of Honor Board that the Army was not obligated to police the matter. Walker continued to wear her medal until her death. Although some sources claim that President Jimmy Carter formally restored her medal posthumously in 1977,[133] this action was actually taken unilaterally by the Army's Board for Correction of Military Records.[38] The Army Board for Correction of Military Records also restored the Medals of Honor of Buffalo Bill and four other civilian scouts in 1989.[39]

Five "double recipients" were awarded both the Army's and Navy's Medal of Honor for the same action, with all five of these occurrences taking place during World War I.[149] No modern recipients have more than one medal because of laws passed for the Army in 1918, and for the Navy in 1919, which stipulated that "no more than one medal of honor . . . shall be issued to any one person," although subsequent awards were authorized by issuance of bars or other devices in lieu of the medal itself.[150] The statutory bar was finally repealed in the FY2014 defense bill, at the request of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, meaning that recipients can now be issued more than one medal. However, no more than one medal may be issued for the same action.[151]

Since 1979, 86 late Medal of Honor awards have been presented for actions from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. In addition, five recipients whose names were not included on the Army's Medal of Honor Roll in 1917 had their awards restored.[153]A 1993 study commissioned by the U.S. Army investigated "racial disparity" in the awarding of medals.[154] At the time, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to U.S. soldiers of African descent who served in World War II. After an exhaustive review, the study recommended that ten Distinguished Service Cross recipients be awarded the Medal of Honor. On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton presented the Medal of Honor to seven of these World War II veterans, six of them posthumously and one to former Second Lieutenant Vernon Baker.[155]

In 1998, a similar study of Asian Americans resulted in President Bill Clinton presenting 22 Medals of Honor in 2000.[156] Twenty of these medals went to U.S. soldiers of Japanese descent of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team (442nd RCT) who served in the European Theater of Operations during World War II.[156][157] One of these Medal of Honor recipients was Senator Daniel Inouye, a former U.S. Army officer in the 442nd RCT.[155] 041b061a72


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