The Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious award given to an American military member. Medal of Honor recipients are recognized for their distinguished service in the field of battle.
The first Medal of Honor was given in 1863, and since then, only 3,517 have been awarded.
Any soldier who has distinguished themselves “conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States” is awarded the medal.
In honor of our Veterans and recognizing the many sacrifices made in the service, here are the stories of three Medal of Honor recipients.
Audie Leon Murphy – World War II
Murphy was one of the most decorated soldiers in American history. He received every military combat award a US Army soldier is able to acquire. In addition, the French and Belgian military awarded him for his heroism.
At just 19, Murphy received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Colmar Pocket in December 1945. There, Murphy and his unit were on a mission to hold against a German counter-attack.
The Germans hit hard, demolishing the American unit’s M10 tank destroyer. Under those circumstances, Murphy realized the imminent danger his men were in. In a quick decision, he ordered his troops to fall back.
By himself, Murphy covered their retreat and held the Germans back by mounting the destroyed tank’s .50 caliber machine gun and requesting artillery strikes.
The German pushed his position on three sides by waves of infantry and six tanks. Wounded and out of ammunition, Murphy hurried to his company. Refusing medical attention, he organized a successful counter-attack.
2nd Lt. Murphy is credited to killing or wounding 50 Germans. “For an hour, the Germans tried every available weapon to eliminate 2d Lt. Murphy, but he continued to hold his position,” his citation reads.
Theodore Roosevelt – Spanish-American War
Theodore Roosevelt is the only president in history to have received the Congressional Medal of Honor. The actions that deemed him worthy of such an award occurred before his presidency, and he wasn’t awarded the medal until 2001.
At the rank of Colonel in the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, Roosevelt received the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of San Juan Hill. The mission was to charge up the hill; however, it had been stalled.
Thereupon, Roosevelt grew frustrated by the lack of progress. He pleaded with his superiors to send his unit, the Rough Riders, to assist the assault by the infantry. However, they declined permission.
Against orders, and “in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men,” he and his unit charged up the hill. Roosevelt was the first to make it to the Spanish trenches. Consequently, the push inspired the hearts of other soldiers, and the tide of the battle turned.
Jason Dunham – Iraq
Jason Dunham was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for sacrificing his life to save his fellow Marines.
Dunham and his unit were in Husaybuh, Iraq, conducting a patrol. Then suddenly, a firefight erupted nearby their location. Their superiors ordered them to intercept cars to search for suspicious activity.
Executing their mission, Dunham approached a vehicle to search it. As he got closer, an insurgent leaped out and engaged him in hand-to-hand combat. After grappling the insurgent to the ground, Dunham saw him pull the pin of a grenade and drop it.
Dunham “without hesitation … covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast.”
As a result, Dunham was fatally wounded and was evacuated to a Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. In light of the situation, his heroism saved the lives of two Marines.
After determining he would not recover, he was taken off life support and died eight days later.
Our Heros, Our Veterans
To our Veterans. Thank you for making those necessary sacrifices. Thank you for believing our country is worth fighting for. Thank you for your courage, your strength, your commitment. Thank you for your service.
Although there are some who take your sacrifices for granted, there are many who appreciate you immensely from the bottom of their hearts. Our hearts.
A Mission To Serve Our Heroes
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