Facts about the Highest Medal in US Military, the Medal of Honor

Ashley | 10 - 15 - 2020
Highest Medal in US military

Military medals were awarded to recognize a person for his achievements. During the Revolutionary World War 3 soldiers were offered purple, heart-shaped badges. Only after the Mexican-American War, the government began to honor men who have distinguished themselves in action. They received certificates and cash but physical badges were not offered until 1905. In this article you will learn about the History of the Medal of Honor, when was the medal of honor created, and when was the first medal of honor awarded.

What Is the Medal of Honor?

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ most prestigious medal that is awarded to US military service members. The medal is usually awarded by the president of the United States in the name of the U.S congress. The medal is officially recognized as a Medal of Honor but since the medal is in the name of congress, it is incorrectly known as the “Congressional Medal of Honor”. The official abbreviation for the Medal of Honor is “MOH”.

Medal of Honor Origin

The history of the Medal of Honor dates back to the 1860s. The medal was first authorized in 1861 specially for sailors and marines and later in the following year, it was awarded for soldiers. How many Medals of Honors have been awarded? Since then, around 3,400 Medals of Honors have been awarded to members of the army, navy, air force, and Coast Guard personnel.

Around 22 Men Received the Medals of Honor Twice.
  • A. True
  • B. False

The first actual Medal of Honor recipient was Jacob Parrott. He was an assistant army surgeon who served in the first major U.S.- Apache conflict. In southeastern Arizona, an Irish doctor named Irwin volunteered to go to the rescue of Second Lieutenant George N. Bascom. He was trapped with 50+ other men of the US Seventh Infantry by the Chiricahua Apaches.  

Irwin along with 14 other men rode over mules in order to rescue Bascom. They reached the destination on February 14. The Apache war began when the Chiricahua Apache Chief kidnapped three white men to exchange for his relatives held by the US army for a false accusation. This exchange was later denied, hence Cochise killed the white men and the army killed his relatives. This led to the initiation of the Apache war. After a few years of this incident, Irwin received the highest medal in the US military in 1894. 

Some of the most recent army recipients, 

  • Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne
  • Master Sgt. Matthew Williams
  • Staff Sgt. David Bellavia
  • Staff Sgt. Travis Atkins
  • Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer II
  • 1st Lt. Garlin M. Conner
  • Capt. Gary M. Rose

On June 2, 2015, the recipients from World War 1, Army private Henry Johnson and Army Sergeant William Shemin were awarded by President Obama. 

Around six rescinded awards have been reinstated. Since 1998 at least 15 Medals of Honors have been awarded to correct past administrative errors. 

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln signed a congressionally-approved bill for creating around 200 Medals of Honor. Later, the participants of the Indian War campaigns fought on America’s western frontier from 1865 to 1891. 

From 1891 to 1897, around 500 Medals of Honors were awarded for actions during the Civil War. During the 1890s, a bill was passed by Congress to change the design of the medal to five vertical strips of red, blue, white, blue, red. In 1901, Congress appointed a panel to review nominations but only on April 19, 1902, the review board became permanent. 

Medal of Honor recipients also receives additional advantages. In 1916, a special monthly pension was offered to the recipients of the Medal of Honor who are over 65. 

Around 19 men received the Medals of Honor twice and 9 medals of honor were awarded to recognize the unknown soldiers who were buried in Arlington National Cemetery and in overseas countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, and France. 

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