Frequently Asked Questions
How many Medals of Honor have been awarded?
To date, 3,515 Medals of Honor have been presented to 3,495 service men and to one woman. Nineteen men received two Medals – 14 of them for two separate actions and five received both Army and Navy Medals of Honor for the same action. .
Of the total:
- 2,449 Medals have been awarded to U.S. Army soldiers
- 748 Medals have been awarded to members of the U.S. Navy
- 299 Medals have been awarded to U.S. Marines
- 18 Medals have been awarded to members of the U.S. Air Force
- 1 Medal has been awarded to a U.S. Coast Guardsman
What was the last action that was recognized with the Medal of Honor?
On July 18, 2016, Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, USA (Ret.) received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry while serving as a Flight Commander assigned to the 176th Aviation Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion in Vietnam. Then-Major Kettles distinguished himself in combat operations near Duc Pho on May 15, 1967. He is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members.
He is the 54th living service member to receive the Medal for valor for actions in Vietnam and is one of 75 living Medal of Honor recipients.
Does one have to be a U.S. citizen in order to be awarded the Medal of Honor?
U.S. citizenship is not a requirement, but you must be in the U.S. military to qualify for the Medal of Honor.
Who was the first Medal of Honor recipient?
The earliest actions for which the Medal was awarded took place before the Civil War had even begun, February 13-14, 1861, in what is now Arizona. Bernard J.D. Irwin was an Assistant Surgeon in the Army when he voluntarily led a command of troops to relieve a surrounded detachment of the 7th Infantry. Irwin’s Medal was not awarded until January 24, 1894 – more than 30 years after he had performed his deed.
On March 25, 1863, Pvt. Jacob Parrott was the first of a group of six men awarded the Medal for their actions in "The Great Locomotive Chase" in April 1862. They were the first ever to wear the Medal of Honor.
How many double recipients are there?
There are 19 double recipients. Fourteen of these men received medals for separate actions; five received the Navy and Army Medals of Honor for the same action.
Nine Medals of Honor have been presented to Unknown soldiers. Where are they?
Four of the Medals have been presented to the Unknown U.S. soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In addition, the Medal was presented to Unknown Soldiers from Belgium, England, France, Italy and Rumania, all U.S. allies in World War I.
Has a President ever been awarded the Medal of Honor?
President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic service while a Colonel in the U.S. Army in the Spanish-American War. He is the first and only President of the United States to be awarded America's highest military honor. His son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., also received the Medal of Honor for action at Normandy during the D-Day invasion.
Has a woman ever been awarded the Medal of Honor?
Yes, Mary Walker, a surgeon, was the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor. She served as a nurse – the U.S. Army had no female surgeons – at the First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
Who was the only Coast Guard Medal of Honor recipient?
Douglas Munro was the only Coast Guard recipient. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Point Cruz, Guadalcanal, on September 27, 1942.
How many Air Force Medal of Honor recipients are there?
Since the formation of a separate Air Force in 1947 there have been 18 recipients. Prior to 1965, when the Air Force acquired its own Medal of Honor design, members of the Army Air Corps and the Air Force were awarded the Army Medal.
Who was the first African-American recipient?
William Carney was the first African-American recipient. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on July 18, 1863, at Fort Wagner, SC.
How many Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously?
More than 18 percent ‐ 646 ‐ of the Medals awarded since 1863 have been presented posthumously. From World War II to the present, more than 60 percent of the Medals have been awarded posthumously — 58 percent in World War II, 73.8 percent in the Korean War, 62.9 percent in the Vietnam War and 38.9 percent in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
What are the guidelines for which the medal could be awarded?
On July 25, 1963, Congress established a set of guidelines under which the Medal of Honor could be awarded:
- 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 forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.