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Medal of Honor - Medal Fact Sheet

  • 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. The deed performed must have been one of personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his comrades and must have involved risk of life.
  • The Medal of Honor was established by a joint resolution of Congress in July 1862, and was first issued during the Civil War.
  • The first Medal of Honor was awarded to Army Pvt. Jacob Parrot, and five others, on March 25, 1863, for their service in the Civil War.
  • To date, there have been 3,473 Medals of Honor awarded.
  • Only seven Medals of Honor have been awarded since the Vietnam War, all posthumously – two for service in Somalia, one in Afghanistan and four in Iraq.
  • The most recent Medal of Honor was given posthumously to Army Spc. Ross McGinnis in June for his service in Iraq.
  • Today, there are 103 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
  • There have been 87 African-American recipients, 41 Hispanic-American recipients, 22 Native American recipients, 22 Asian-American recipients, and one female recipient. There have been 19 double Medal of Honor recipients.
  • The Medal of Honor is the only U.S. military award worn around the neck as opposed to being pinned on the uniform. Among other privileges, Medal of Honor recipients receive invitations to attend presidential inaugurations and accompanying festivities.
  • There are two protocols for awarding the Medal of Honor. The most common is a service member submits a nomination through the chain of command. The other process is through nomination by a member of Congress, usually at the request of a constituent and approved by a special act of Congress.

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