The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Although it was originally created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863.
Medal of Honor Criteria:
- The Medal of Honor is awarded by the President in the name of Congress to members of the military service, who distinguish themselves conspiciously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty
- while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
- The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.
- Proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the Service member performed the valorous action for which they were recommended for the Medal of Honor.
- While Medal of Honor criteria include a requirement for the Service member to risk his or her life, there is NO requirement for the member to be wounded or killed in order to meet the “risk of life” portion of the Medal of Honor award criteria.
There must be no margin of doubt or possibility of error in awarding this honor. To justify the decoration, the individual’s service must clearly be rendered conspicious above their comrades by an act so outstanding that it clearly distinguishes their gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery; and it must be the type of deed which if not done would not subject the individual to any justified criticism. The deed must be without detriment to the mission of the command or to the command to which attached.
A Brief History — The Medal of Honor
The first formal system for rewarding acts of individual gallantry by the nation’s fighting men was established by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. Designed to recognize “any singularly meritorious action,” the award consisted of a purple cloth heart. Although it was created for the Civil War, Congress made the Medal of Honor a permanent decoration in 1863. In 1943, the order was amended to include personnel of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. Coverage was eventually extended to include all services and “any civilian national” wounded while serving with the Armed Forces. Almost 3,400 men and one woman have received the award for heroic actions in the nation’s battles since that time.
US ARMY MEDAL OF HONOR
Army Medal of Honor Description:
A gold five pointed star, each point tipped with trefoils, 1½ inches wide, surrounded by a green laurel wreath and suspended from a gold bar inscribed ”VALOR” surmounted by an eagle. In the center of the star, Minerva’s head surrounded by the words ”UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” On each ray of the star is a green oak leaf. On the reverse is a bar engraved ”THE CONGRESS TO” with a space for engraving the name of the recipient.
US Army Medal of Honor Criteria
US NAVY MEDAL OF HONOR
Navy Medal of Honor DESCRIPTION:
The current Navy Medal of Honor is 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 left hand resting of fasces and right hand holding a shield blazoned with the shield from the coat of arms of the United States. She repulses Discord, represented by snakes. The medal is suspended from the flukes of an anchor. A ribbon bar that is the same shade of light blue as the neckband, and includes five white stars, pointed upwards, in the shape of an “M” is worn for situations other than full dress uniform. When the ribbon is worn, it is placed alone, ¼ inch (6 mm) above the center of the other ribbons. For wear with civilian clothing, a rosette is issued instead of a miniature lapel pin (which usually shows the ribbon bar). The rosette is the same shade of blue as the neck ribbon and includes white stars. The ribbon and rosette are presented at the same time as the medal.
Navy Medal of Honor CRITERIA:
US AIR FORCE MEDAL OF HONOR
US Air Force Medal of Honor Medal Description:
Current Air Force Medal of Honor is a gold finished five pointed star, within a wreath of Green laurel, one point down, tipped with trefoils and each point containing a crown of laurel and oak on a Green background. Centered on the star, an annulet of 34 stars is a representation of the head of the Statue of Liberty. The star is surrounded by a green enameled laurel wreath edged in gold. The star is suspended from a bar inscribed with the word “VALOR” above an adaptation of the thunderbolt from the Air Force Coat of Arms.
The medal is suspended from a design, taken from the Air Force coat of arms. In the center is a baton with eagle claws at both ends resting on a pair of aviator’s wings emitting thunderbolts from the center. The neck ribbon passes through the bar and has an octagonal pad of the traditional light blue moire ribbon with 13 white stars. The reverse of this decoration is blank and suitable for engraving. Authorized device: Oak leaf cluster Weighted Airman Promotion System Point Value: 15 Medal of Honor. The current Air Force Version was approved in 1965.
US Air Force Medal of Honor Criteria:
It is given in the name of Congress to officers and enlisted members who distinguished themselves by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives, above and beyond the call of duty, in action involving actual combat with an armed enemy of the United States.
US Air Force Medal of Honor Background:
Air Force Medal of Honor was established by Congress on July 6, 1960, as the highest of several awards created specifically for the Air Force. The first presentation of this Medal of Honor was made at the White House in Washington on Jan. 19, 1967, when the president placed it around the neck of Maj. Bernard F. Fisher, United States Air Force. It is given in the name of Congress to officers and enlisted members who distinguished themselves by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives, above and beyond the call of duty, in action involving actual combat with an armed enemy of the United States.
SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENTS
- Medal of Honor Roll.
- Special Pension Provision for Medal of Honor Roll.
- Upon receipt of a copy of the Medal of Honor Roll certificate, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs shall pay each person, whose name has been entered on the Medal of Honor Roll, a special pension. The special pension shall be paid beginning as of the date of application. In addition, a lump sum shall be paid to each person eligible for the special pension equal to the total amount of special pension that would have been received from the first day of the first month after the act for which the Medal of Honor was awarded through the last day of the month preceding the actual commencement of the payment of the special pension. The lump sum amount payable shall be determined using the monthly rate that was in effect at the time for each month of eligibility.
- The receipt of special pension shall not deprive any person of any other pension or other benefit, right, or privilege to which he/she is or may hereafter be entitled under any existing or subsequent law. The special pension shall be paid in addition to all other payments under laws of the United States.
- The special pension shall not be subject to any attachment, execution, levy, tax, lien, or detention under any process whatsoever.
- If any individuals have been awarded more than one Medal of Honor, they shall not receive more than one special pension.
- Service Academy Appointments.
An appointment of children of a person who has been awarded the Medal of Honor as cadets at the U.S.
Military Academy or the U.S. Air Force Academy, or as midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy, without regard to quota requirements. Applications for admittance to the Naval Academy under this provision should be sent to the Dean of Admissions, U.S. Naval Academy, regardless of the branch of Service in which the parent served. Applications should include the full name and date of birth of the applicant, and the full name and grade or rate of the person awarded the Medal of Honor.
- Travel in Military Aircraft.
Medal of Honor recipients are authorized to travel in U.S. military aircraft on a space-available basis, within the Continental United States, provided they certify the trip is not for personal gain or remuneration.
- Duplicate Medal of Honor.
A living Medal of Honor recipient shall upon written application be issued, without charge, one duplicate Medal of Honor (marked “DUPLICATE”) with ribbons and appurtenances.
- Medal of Honor Flag.
Medal of Honor recipients who were living as of 23 October 2002 shall be presented with the Medal of Honor Flag.
ORDER OF PRECEDENCE
Medal of Honor is worn before all other decorations.
Next Navy Cross
MEDAL OF HONOR RIBBON
Medal of Honor Ribbon:
The medal is suspended by a neck ribbon, 1 3/8 inches wide, Bluebird 67117. A shield of the same color ribbon with thirteen White (67101) stars, arranged in the form of three chevrons, is above the medal. The service ribbon is 1 3/8 inches wide with five White stars in the form of an “M”. The stars will form an “M” with the single ray of all stars pointing up
Additional awards are denoted by gold stars.