Category Archives: medal of honor

February 21, 2014, 8:26 pm

Refinding Heroism

President Obama will retroactively award Medals of Honor to 24 servicemen passed over in earlier wars because of their race or creed:

The unusual presentation will culminate a 12-year Pentagon review ordered by Congress into past discrimination in the ranks, and will hold a particular poignancy hosted by the nation’s first African-American president. Although the review predates Obama’s tenure, he has made addressing discrimination in the military ranks — including ending the ban on gay and lesbian service members — a priority as commander in chief. The recipients, which the White House will announce Friday afternoon, served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Collectively their award ceremony will mark the single largest batch of Medal of Honor recipients since World War II, when more than two dozen service members were honored in the conflict’s last days. Just three of those to be …

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August 27, 2013, 7:21 pm

How Many Medals?

MOHThe USA Today points out recently that the number of Medals of Honor in Iraq and Afghanistan seem low by historical comparison:

Critics say 12 Medals of Honor are far too few, given the 2.5 million Americans who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts that left nearly 7,000 of them dead and about 50,000 wounded. And it is too few in striking comparison with the 137 awarded for actions in the Korean War, 249 in Vietnam and 467 in World War II, they say. “We feel the number is still low, and we support a DoD (Department of Defense) review to find out why … (and) how we can get true heroes recognized for their service on the battlefield,” says Jay Agg, communication director for the 180,000-member veterans group AmVets.

I’ve weighed in on this before and Bob Gates, when he was Secretary of Defense, seems to have pushed the military to nominate more candidates for the MOH.


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December 18, 2012, 10:35 am

A Medal of Honor

(Originally from 2009.  Worth a republish today)

On this day in history, Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye, a Japanese-American from Hawaii, led his platoon into action near San Terenzo, Italy.scr_20005191a_hr.jpg Inouye, a member of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, had left his medical studies to enlist in 1943, rising to the rank of Sergeant and then getting a battlefield commission to Second Lieutenant. The war in Europe would end within the month, but the Germans were still defending their remnant of Italy fiercely. That day…but let Inouye describe the action:

We jumped off at first light. E Company’s objective was Colle Musatello, a high and heavily defended ridge. All three rifle platoons were to be deployed, two moving up in a frontal attack, with my platoon skirting the left flank and coming in from the side. Whichever platoon reached the heights first was to secure them against…

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September 11, 2010, 5:39 am

Living Recipient for Medal of Honor

The first Medal of Honor awarded to a living soldier since the Vietnam War was announced this week:

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. On Thursday, President Obama spoke with Giunta, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Vicenza, Italy, to inform him that he will be awarded the nation’s highest valor award, according to the White House.

There had been discussion of whether the Medal of Honor had become only a posthumous award:

The small number awarded and the fact that all were awarded posthumously has raised questions among members of Congress and senior military leaders. When asked by reporters, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in September the issue has been “a source of real concern to me.” He added: The Medal of Honor nomination process is…

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July 7, 2010, 9:53 am


medalLarge.jpgPreviously here and here. Both posts discussed the shifting standards for Medals of Honor, including the increasing percentage awarded posthumously. Now, there comes a report that a Medal of Honor recommendation has gone up to the White House for someone who survived their heroism:

The Pentagon has recommended that the White House consider awarding the Medal of Honor to a living soldier for the first time since the Vietnam War, according to U.S. officials.

The last Medal of Honor given to a live recipient was to Michael Edwin Thornton, for actions on 31 October 1972. Thornton’s MOH also seems to have been the last one given in the Vietnam conflict (I can’t find any for actions dated later).

The nomination comes after several years of complaints from lawmakers, military officers and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates that the Pentagon had become so cautious that only troops whose…

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August 21, 2009, 3:45 pm


Back in May, I wrote a post on Medals of Honor, and how the standards for awarding them seem to have changed. It was a quick look that focused particularly on how the de facto requirements for being given a Medal of Honor now, more and more, seem to include dying. In both Korea and Vietnam, more than 60% of Medals of Honor were posthumous, a dramatic shift from previously. As I said then:

The valor that garners a Medal of Honor has changed since the Civil War, when the award was first created. In fact, many of the ways that the Medal was previously given no longer hold. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that it is now extremely difficult–if not impossible–to get a Medal of Honor while surviving the acts of bravery.

We now have an interesting further case. (more…)

May 19, 2009, 9:56 am


[Following up on this post.]

The valor that garners a Medal of Honor has changed since the Civil War, when the award was first created. In fact, many of the ways that the Medal was previously given no longer hold. Perhaps the most obvious of these is that it is now extremely difficult–if not impossible–to get a Medal of Honor while surviving the acts of bravery. The military denies that this is an official requirement, though there is skepticism:

The U.S. military appears to have toughened its standards for bestowing the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for valor in battle, to exclude troops who survive their heroic acts, a California lawmaker charged Thursday.
Either troops are “not as brave as they used to be, which I don’t believe is true,” or the criteria for the award have been amended “so that you have to die” to receive it, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, R-Calif., told the…

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February 19, 2009, 10:42 am

The Pacific War at Home and Abroad, at Beginning and End.

On this day in history, the United States took actions that symbolize the contradictions of the Pacific War, at home and abroad. On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which effected the internment of ethnic Japanese (Issei) and Japanese-Americans (Nisei) living in the western United States. Three years later, in 1945, forces of the 4th Assault Corps put two divisions on the black sands of Iwo Jima. In a sense, these linked days were, in their own particular way, indicative of the beginning and the end of the Pacific War. The internments–perhaps the most shameful act of Roosevelt’s Presidency–highlight the confusion, fear, and chaos of the immediate months after Pearl Harbor. Iwo Jima, at the other end, demonstrated the bloody grinding that the war had become by 1945.


The attack on Pearl Harbor had thrown the United States into war…

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