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Medal Of Honor

“This Medal of Honor does not belong to me. This medal belongs to every man and woman who has ever served their country. We were doing what we were trained to do. We were doing our job.”

– Michael E. Thornton, Medal of Honor Recipient, U.S. Navy

Senator (Iowa) James W. Grimes introduced S. No. 82 (Public Resolution) to the Senate, designed to “promote the efficiency of the Navy,” to produce and distribute “medals of honor,” on December 9, 1861. President Abraham Lincoln signed the bill on December 21, 1861, authorizing 200 medals to be produced, and the (Navy) Medal of Honor was born. The medal was to “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.”

Just over two months later, on February 17, 1862, Senator (Massachusetts) Henry Wilson introduced S.J.R. No. 82 (Senate Joint Resolution). Similar to its counterpart S. No. 82, the bill was designed to authorize “the President to distribute medals to privates in the Army of the United States who shall distinguish themselves in battle.” President Lincoln signed the bill on July 12, 1862.


  • Navy Medal of Honor (The Original) – designed by Philadelphia firm William Wilson & Sons is presented to the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
  • Navy Medal of Honor (1862) –was suspended from its red, white and blue ribbon by an anchor wrapped with a length of rope. The reverse side was inscribed with the words “Personal Valor” above an open area where the recipient’s name could be engraved.
  • Army Medal of Honor (1862) – was cast from the same die as the Navy Medal of Honor, with the exceptions of the anchor being replaced by an eagle perched on crossed cannon clutching a saber in its talons and “Personal Valor” being replaced with “The Congress To.”
  • Army Medal of Honor (1896) – A new suspension ribbon was introduced.
  • Gillespie Medal of Honor (1904) – Among the many changes, the new medal kept the star but modified the face, replacing the ring of 34 stars with “United States of America” and “Minerva Repelling Discord” to a simple profile of the helmeted Goddess of War.
  • Navy Medal of Honor (1913) – The anchor was altered slightly and the ribbon was changed to the same blue silk ribbon bearing 13 stars used with the Army Medal of Honor. The Department of the Navy decided to separately distinguish medals awarded for combat and non combat:
    • Navy Medal of Honor – presented for combat heroism.
    • Tiffany Cross (originally known as the Maltese Cross) – presented for non combat heroism. Its lack of popularity saw the Tiffany Cross dropped in 1942, returning the Navy to a single medal.
  • Air Force Medal of Honor (1965) – Although the medal was authorized in 1956, the Air Force didn’t unveil its design until 1965.
  • Ribbon and Rosette (1895) – authorized by Congress on May 2, the Ribbon is to be worn with the medal and the Rosette or (knot) may be warn in lieu of it.

To date, 3,500 recipients have received this prestigious award. Of those, there are 71 living recipients and 19 people have received the award twice.

Name Rank Service Campaign
Frank D. Baldwin First Lieutenant U.S. Army Indian War Campaigns
Smedley Darlington Butler Major U.S. Marine Corps Haiti 1915
John Cooper Coxswain U.S. Navy Civil War
Louis Cukela Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps World War I
Thomas W. Custer Second Lieutenant U.S. Army Civil War
Daniel Joseph Daly Gunnery Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps Haiti 1915
Charles F. Hoffman

(aka Ernest Janson)

Gunnery Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps World War I
Henry Hogan First Sergeant U.S. Army Indian War Campaigns
John Joseph Kelly Private U.S. Marine Corps World War I
John King Watertender U.S. Navy Interim 1901-1911
Matej. Kocak Sergeant U.S. Marine Corps World War I
John Lafferty Fireman U.S. Navy Civil War
JOHN McCloy Coxswain U.S. Navy Boxer Rebellion
Patrick Mullen Boatswain’s Mate U.S. Navy Civil War
John Henry Pruitt Corporal U.S. Marine Corps World War I
Robert Sweeney Ordinary Seaman U.S. Navy Interim 1871-1898
Albert Weisbogel Captain of the Mizzen Top U.S. Navy Interim 1871-1898
Louis Williams Captain of the Hold U.S. Navy Interim 1871-1898
William Wilson Sergeant U.S. Army Indian War Campaigns

Only one woman has ever earned this honor. Dr. Mary Walker was awarded her medal on November 11, 1865, from President Andrew Johnson. The medal was rescinded in 1917, along with 910 other recipient’s medals, and restored to her in 1977 by President Jimmy Carter.

Since the Civil War, the Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor the United States can bestow upon an individual. It is a symbol of respect, honoring the bravest of the brave.

Campaign Recipients Campaign Recipients
1871 Korean Campaign 15 Interim (1920-1940) 18
Action Against Philippine Outlaws 6 Korean War 146
Boxer Rebellion 58 Mexican Campaign (Vera Cruz) 55
Civil War 1,522 Philippine Insurrection 84
Dominican Campaign 3 Second Nicaraguan Campaign 2
Haiti (1915) 6 Somalia Campaign 2
Haiti Campaign (1919-1920) 2 Vietnam War 262
Indian War Campaigns 423 War In Afghanistan 14
Interim (1866-1870) 11 War In Iraq 4
Interim (1871-1898) 100 War With Spain 110
Interim (1901-1911) 50 World War I 127
Interim (1915-1916) 8 World War II 472

For a full and current list of all Medal of Honor winners with details on their citation(s), in alphabetical order, visit To view the medals, visit


About Jenifer Chrisman

Jenifer joined the MWR Marketing team in 2011 as graphic designer. In 2014, she went back to her roots when she joined the Fort Gordon FYI Magazine team as a writer, along with her designer duties. As of 2015, she has created a series of briefs about the history, culture and traditions of the military called Culture.Mil, as well as writing various other pieces, including her favorite ... A Thin Line Of Many Colors.

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