A Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster is to denote the second and subsequent awards of the same decoration. A Silver Oak Leaf Cluster is worn in the place of 5 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters.
The Medal of Honor
There are three different types of the Medal of Honor.
The Army The Navy The Air Force
There is a Pyramid of Honor that was established to recognize degrees of bravery
below that honored by the Medal of Honor. There are several medals awarded for
valor, gallantry and heroism. The Medal of Honor is at the peak of this Pyramid
Pyramid of Honor
Medal of Honor (May only receive one)
The Distinguished Service Cross(Army), The Navy Cross(Navy, Marine Corps,
Coast Guard), The Air Force Cross(Air Force)
The Silver Star, The Distinguished Flying Cross, The Bronze Star, The Purple Heart,
(Common to all branches of the armed forces) The Air Medal
When a soldier is wounded more than once, the Purple Heart is decorated with
either Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters or a Silver Oak Leaf Cluster with Bronze Oak Leaf
Clusters. The most Purple Hearts that can be awarded is eight.
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st
Special Forces. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 30 December 1968. Entered service at:
Montgomery, Ala. Born: 11 July 1939, Opelika, Ala. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and
intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Howard (then
Sfc .), distinguished himself while serving as platoon sergeant of an American-Vietnamese platoon
which was on a mission to rescue a missing American soldier in enemy controlled territory in the
Republic of Vietnam. The platoon had left its helicopter landing zone and was moving out on its
mission when it was attacked by an estimated 2-company force. During the initial engagement, 1st
Lt. Howard was wounded and his weapon destroyed by a grenade explosion. 1st Lt. Howard saw
his platoon leader had been wounded seriously and was exposed to fire. Although unable to walk,
and weaponless, 1st Lt. Howard unhesitatingly crawled through a hail of fire to retrieve his
wounded leader. As 1st Lt. Howard was administering first aid and removing the officer's
equipment, an enemy bullet struck 1 of the ammunition pouches on the lieutenant's belt,
detonating several magazines of ammunition. 1st Lt. Howard momentarily sought cover and then
realizing that he must rejoin the platoon, which had been disorganized by the enemy attack, he
again began dragging the seriously wounded officer toward the platoon area. Through his
outstanding example of indomitable courage and bravery, 1st Lt. Howard was able to rally the
platoon into an organized defense force. With complete disregard for his safety, 1st Lt. Howard
crawled from position to position, administering first aid to the wounded, giving encouragement to
the defenders and directing their fire on the encircling enemy. For 3 1/2 hours 1st Lt. Howard's
small force and supporting aircraft successfully repulsed enemy attacks and finally were in
sufficient control to permit the landing of rescue helicopters. 1st Lt. Howard personally supervised
the loading of his men and did not leave the bullet-swept landing zone until all were aboard safely.
1st Lt. Howard's gallantry in action, his complete devotion to the welfare of his men at the risk of
his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on
himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army
The first formal system of rewarding men for their individual gallantry in
battle was created by General George Washington on August 7, 1782. The
award only consisted of the Badge of Military Merit at the time and only three
men ever received the medal; Sergeant Elijah Churchill, Sergeant William
Brown, and Sergeant Daniel Bissel Jr. The Badge of Military Merit
disappeared until 1932 when General Douglas MacArthur pressed for its
revival. It was reinstated on February 22, 1932 as the Purple Heart.
The Navy Medal of Honor was the first Medal of Honor to be recommended
by Iowa Senator James W. Grimes on December 9, 1861. The bill that he
suggested for this Medal of Honor was passed on December 21, 1861. Two
months later, on February 17, 1862 Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson came
forward with a similar bill for the Army. The bill was passed on July 12, 1862.
Both bills were passed by President Abraham Lincoln.
The Medal of Honor sets specific provisions for recipients.
At least two eyewitnesses must provide “incontestable evidence” to a
deed that proves to “be so outstanding, that it clearly distinguishes
gallantry beyond the call of duty from lesser forms of bravery, involve the
risk of life, and be the type of deed, which, if not done, would not subject
the recipient to any unjustified criticism.”
All medals since Vietnam have been given posthumously. Only three
Navy Seals received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.
Only two men received the Medal of Honor in the war in Somalia.
Both of whom died protecting the two fallen Blackhawk
helicopters crew members.
More than 3,448 Medals of Honor have been awarded since its
creation in 1861.
There has been only one woman ever to be awarded the Medal of
Honor, Dr. Mary E. Walker. She was awarded this Medal of
Honor during the Civil War for her role as a Surgeon and for her
hardships as a prisoner for four months. Her medal was
recommended by Major Generals Sherman and Thomas and was
given to her by President Andrew Johnson. The Medal was
rescinded in 1917 along with 910 other medals and Dr. Mary
Walker refused to return the Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor was restored by President Carter on June 10,
27 Medals of Honor were given at Iwo Jima; 22 to Marines , 4 to
Navy Corpsmen and 1 to a Landing Craft Commander.
There have only been 19 double recipients of the Medal of Honor.
President Theodore Roosevelt was recommended for the Medal of
Honor for the battle at San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898; but never
received the medal. 22 men were awarded the medal for that
battle. Over one hundred years later, on January 16, 2001,
President Theodore Roosevelt was awarded the Medal of Honor.
He also held the Nobel Peace Prize. President Roosevelt is the
only President to ever receive the Medal of Honor.
On July 29, 1986, Angelo (Charles) Liteky, a former Army chaplain
in Vietnam, renounced his Medal of Honor in protest over U.S.
policies in Central America. Liteky's is the only known case in
which a Medal of Honor has been renounced.
He returned the Medal of Honor at the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
Rank and organization: Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian), U. S. Army. Places and dates:
Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C., October 1861;
Chattanooga, Tenn., following Battle of Chickomauga, September 1863; Prisoner of War, April 10,
1864-August 12, 1864, Richmond, Va.; Battle of Atlanta, September 1864. Entered service at:
Louisville, Ky. Born: 26 November 1832, Oswego County, N.Y. Citation: Whereas it appears from
official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, "has rendered valuable service to
the Government, and her efforts have been earnest and untiring in a variety of ways," and that she
was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville,
Ky., upon the recommendation of Major-Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as
contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic
zeal to the sick and wounded soldiers, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own
health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison
while acting as contract surgeon; and Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in
the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her;
Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings
should be made:
It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E.
Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her.
Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865.
(Medal rescinded 1917 along with 910 others, restored by President Carter 10 June 1977.)
The first way the government became involved was
passing the bills to allow the Pyramid of Honor to
The parameters of the Medal of Honor has also gone
under some revisions to ensure it is justly bestowed
upon those who have earned it.
The President must present the Medal of Honor (also
known as the Congressional Medal of Honor) in the
name of the United States Congress.
For extraordinary heroism distinguished service, and devotion
above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by
Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, on
December 7, 1941, Lt. Finn promptly secured and manned a .50-
caliber machinegun mounted on an instruction stand in a
completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under
heavy enemy machine gun strafing fire. Although painfully
wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return
the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the
enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard
for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he
was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention.
Following first aid treatment, although obviously suffering much
pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the
squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning
planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were
in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
This is the official citation given in the recommendation for Lt. John Finn
for the Medal of Honor.
Rank and organization: Specialist Sixth Class (then Sp5c), U.S. Army, Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
1st Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry, 173d Airborne Brigade. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 8 November
1965, Entered service at: New York City, N.Y. G.O. No.: 15, 5 April 1967. Born: 22 February 1928, Winston-Salem,
N.C. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp6c.
Joel demonstrated indomitable courage, determination, and professional skill when a numerically superior and
well-concealed Viet Cong element launched a vicious attack which wounded or killed nearly every man in the
lead squad of the company. After treating the men wounded by the initial burst of gunfire, he bravely moved
forward to assist others who were wounded while proceeding to their objective. While moving from man to man,
he was struck in the right leg by machine gun fire. Although painfully wounded his desire to aid his fellow
soldiers transcended all personal feeling. He bandaged his own wound and self-administered morphine to
deaden the pain enabling him to continue his dangerous undertaking. Through this period of time, he constantly
shouted words of encouragement to all around him. Then, completely ignoring the warnings of others, and his
pain, he continued his search for wounded, exposing himself to hostile fire; and, as bullets dug up the dirt around
him, he held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his life saving mission. Then, after being
struck a second time and with a bullet lodged in his thigh, he dragged himself over the battlefield and succeeded
in treating 13 more men before his medical supplies ran out. Displaying resourcefulness, he saved the life of 1
man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As 1 of the platoons pursued the
Viet Cong, an insurgent force in concealed positions opened fire on the platoon and wounded many more
soldiers. With a new stock of medical supplies, Sp6c. Joel again shouted words of encouragement as he crawled
through an intense hail of gunfire to the wounded men. After the 24 hour battle subsided and the Viet Cong dead
numbered 410, snipers continued to harass the company. Throughout the long battle, Sp6c. Joel never lost sight of
his mission as a medical aidman and continued to comfort and treat the wounded until his own evacuation was
ordered. His meticulous attention to duty saved a large number of lives and his unselfish, daring example under
most adverse conditions was an inspiration to all. Sp6c. Joel's profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk
of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Army and reflect great credit
upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
They fought together as brothers in arms; they
died together and now they sleep side by
side...To them, we have a solemn obligation — the
obligation to ensure that their sacrifice will help
make this a better and safer world in which to live.
"If you are able, save for them a place
inside of you and save one backward glance
when you are leaving for the places they can
no longer go.
Be not ashamed to say you loved them,
though you may or may not have always.
Take what they have taught you with their
dying and keep it with your own.
And in that time when men decide and
feel safe to call the war insane, take one
moment to embrace those gentle heroes you
1 January 1970
Listed as KIA February 7, 1978
Dak To, Vietnam