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American Military Patches, Other Insignia and Decorations of World War Two by Dr. Howard G. Lanham c.2000

Medals of the Second World War

Army Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor
Army Medal of Honor

The Congress of the United States established the Army Medal of Honor on July 12, 1862. The very first award of the Medal of Honor was to the Andrew's raiders by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. These were followers of James J. Andrews, who had seized a Confederate train on the Western and Atlantic Railroad and attempted unsuccessfully to cut the line into Chattanooga, Tennessee. It has long been recognized as the highest and for many years was the only decoration awarded to soldiers of the United States Army. The award is made by the President in the name of Congress for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity involving risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. In many cases the award is posthumous.

Approximating 330 have been awarded for acts of heroism during World War Two, either during the war or in years since. Awards of the Medal of Honor have been made to veterans after reevaluation of their deeds of valor only recently. For example, on May 19, 2000 twenty-one Distinguished Service Crosses were upgraded to Medals of Honor, most of them awarded to members of the 442nd Infantry Regiment of Japanese-Americans. Thus, it will be difficult to put an absolute total number of awards of the Medal of Honor for World War Two until some point in the future. Perhaps the best known of the U.S. Army soldiers who earned the MOH during World War Two was Audie Leon Murphy, whose remarkable story became a movie and who was hailed as the period's most decorated soldier.

The design of the decoration has been changed several times since 1862. The design used during W.W. II was adopted in 1902. In 1944 the medal was authorized to be worn suspended on a neck ribbon. The award is also referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor.

MORE: Congressional Medal of Honor Society Link
Medal of Honor Citations Link
Audie L. Murphy Site
Establishment of the Medal of Honor
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