Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Hall of Heroes?
The Hall of Heroes is located inside the Pentagon and honors each and every Medal of Honor recipient. Inside the hall, three glass cases enclose the three versions of the Medal of Honor - the Army version; the sea-going version for the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard; and the Air Force version. More than 3,100 thin silver metal strips, each engraved with a name of a Medal of Honor awardee, line the walls in long columns. The Hall of Heroes was opened and dedicated by President Lyndon B. Johnson on May 14, 1968.
Medal of Honor
Q. What is the Medal of Honor?
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. Generally, the Medal of Honor is presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America
Q. What does the Medal of Honor look like?
The appearance of the Medal of Honor has changed many times since its inception. There are currently three versions (and four authorized) of the Medal of Honor- one for each of the three Military Departments - Navy, Air Force and Army. The Navy version is awarded to both the Navy and Marine Corps since they are both part of the Department of the Navy. The fourth authorized version is for the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Medal of Honor, which was distinguished from the Navy medal in 1963, has never been awarded and no design yet exists for it, partly because the U.S. Coast Guard is subsumed into the U.S. Navy in time of declared war. The only Coast Guard recipient to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor, Signalman 1st Class Douglas Munro, was awarded the Navy version.
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 on 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. There is also an authorized ribbon and rosette to be worn in lieu of the medal. The Medal of Honor Ribbon is blue with five stars, 2 at the top and 3 at the bottom. The six-sided blue silk rosette bears 13 stars and is worn on civilian attire. Medal of Honor recipients may also wear the Medal itself around the neck of civilian attire for special occasions.
Q. What are the criteria for the Medal of Honor?
In accordance with United States Code Title 10, Subtitle C, Part II, Chapter 567, The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who, while a member of the naval service, distinguishes himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty—
(1) while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
(2) while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
(3) 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.
Note: Each Military Department (Army, Navy, Air Force) has its own particular entry in the USC. However, the criteria for each are identical.
Q. How many Medals of Honor have been awarded?
3,465 medals have been awarded to 3,446 different people
Q. How many Navy personnel have been awarded the Medal of Honor?
746 Medals of Honor have been awarded to Navy personnel.
Q. Has anyone been awarded more than one Medal of Honor?
Nineteen people are double recipients of the Medal of Honor
Q. Has a U.S. 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 with America's highest military honor. President Roosevelt also has significant ties to the United States Navy as a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy and the father of the Great White Fleet (which commemorated its 100th anniversary in 2007).
Q. How many Medal of Honor recipients are still living?
There are currently 107 living recipients of the Medal of Honor. It should be noted that since World War II, about 60 percent of all Medals of Honor awarded have been awarded posthumously.
Q. Who is the most recent Medal of Honor recipient to die?
Army Private First Class Silvestre S. Herrera was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions during World War II in Mertzwiller, France. His one-man charge on an enemy stronghold resulted in his single-handed capture of eight enemy soldiers. He died at the age of 90 on Nov. 26, 2007. At the time of his death, Herrera was the only living person authorized to wear both the Medal of Honor and Mexico's Order of Military Merit (first class).
Q. What is the Medal of Honor Flag?
On Oct. 23, 2003, Public Law 107-248, Section 8143, legislated the creation of a Medal of Honor Flag for presentation to each person to whom a Medal of Honor is awarded after the date of the enactment, Oct. 23, 2002. The flag was based on a concept by retired Army Special Forces First Sergeant Bill Kendall to honor Medal of Honor recipient Captain Darrell Lindsey, a B-26 pilot killed in World War II. On Dec. 15, 2004, the design submitted by Ms. Sarah LeClerc, illustrator at The Institute of Heraldry was approved. It is a light blue flag with gold fringe bearing thirteen white stars in a configuration as on the Medal of Honor ribbon. The light blue color and white stars are adapted from the Medal of Honor ribbon. The flag commemorates the sacrifice and blood shed for our freedoms and gives emphasis to the Medal of Honor being the highest award for valor by an individual serving in the Armed Forces of the United States.
Q. Is anyone else in the Navy or other services being considered for the Medal of Honor? Are any other persons who have received awards of a lesser degree being considered for an upgrade to the Medal of Honor?
The Navy & Marine Corps Awards Manual, (Secretary of the Navy Instruction 1650.1H,) precludes us from making premature disclosure on any award, to include the Medal of Honor.
“Premature public disclosure of information concerning award recommendations during their processing, including intermediate approval and/or disapproval recommendations, is a potential source of embarrassment and disappointment to both those recommended and the DON. Therefore, personnel involved in the submission and processing of awards shall not comment on any case under consideration, and all award recommendations shall be handled on a “FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” basis until the awards are officially announced or actually presented. In view of the additional sensitivity regarding Medal of Honor cases, exceptional care shall be exercised to avoid disclosure of any information, including but not limited to, the fact that an individual has been recommended for the award.“
Q. What are the entitlements of a Medal of Honor recipient?
- A monthly $1,000 pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- A 10-percent increase in retired pay, not to exceed the 75 percent maximum, for enlisted recipients who retire with 20 or more years of Military Service,
- A special MOH Travel and Identification Card signed by the Secretary of the Army. This entitles recipients who are not on active duty and not military retirees to utilize space-available military air transportation.
- Wearing their uniforms at any time or place they choose, unlike other military personnel or retirees.
- An issued DOD identification card, as are their family members, for recipients who are not on active duty and military retirees. It authorizes them military commissary, Post Exchange, and theater privileges. All of the services, consistent with DOD policy, authorize use of morale, welfare, and recreation activities, including honorary club membership without dues.
- Children of Medal of Honor recipients are not subject to quotas if they are qualified and desire to attend the U.S. military academies.
- Receiving invitations to attend Presidential inaugurations and accompanying festivities. Military recipients and those who are civil servants have traditionally been authorized administrative absence instead of chargeable leave to attend.
- A special engraved headstone for deceased recipients of the Medal of Honor provided by VA
- Should be accorded on base billeting commensurate with the prestige associated with the Medal of Honor.
Q. Has a woman ever been awarded the Medal of Honor?
Yes, Mary Walker was the only woman awarded the Medal of Honor at Bull Run on July 21, 1861.
Q. 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.
Q. How many minority recipients of the MOH have been awarded (African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American and Native-American)?
There have been 87 African-American, 41 Hispanic-American, 31 Asian-American and 22 Native-American MOH Recipients.