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Black Americans have participated in every war of our nation’s history, fighting not just for the American ideal, but also their place in it. For many, fighting for their nation overseas was only one front; the second one being against racism and discrimination back at home. 

This discrimination took many forms from the segregation of units, the assignment of menial jobs and a lack of recognition for their valor in service of the nation. The nation’s highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, has often been refused to Black service members since its creation by the Department of the Navy during the Civil War in 1862.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s original award for valor in combat, created during the Civil War as a way to build morale among the Union Forces. Of the 3,458 MoHs given, 40% were awarded during the Civil War itself. It was not until World War I that the U.S. military offered other awards for valor in combat such as the Distinguished Service Cross and Silver Star, and not until World War II that the Medal of Honor could only be awarded for valor in combat with the enemy.

93 MoHs have been awarded to 91 Black recipients. Up until World War I, the vast majority were given to Black recipients in a timely manner, but during WWI and WW2, Black service members were refused the right to be honored for their valor. The awards for those conflicts took over 50 years to be given, and only one Black servicemember was still alive when the ceremony occurred. The most recent award of a MoH was given to Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe on Dec. 16 2021 to his widow Tamara, sixteen years after his actions in Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, where he gave his life rescuing soldiers under his command while under fire and aflame.

As part of Black History Month, Task and Purpose created a list of every Black servicemember who has been awarded the Medal of Honor, in honor of their service and sacrifices. Here they are, with the text of each service member’s full citation in quotation marks:

The Civil War, 1861-1865

Twenty-six African Americans earned the Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

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Navy Landsman Aaron Anderson, USS Wyandank

“Served on board the U.S.S. Wyandank during a boat expedition up Mattox Creek, 17 March 1865,” the citation reads. “Participating with a boat crew in the clearing of Mattox Creek, Landsman Sanderson carried out his duties courageously in the face of a devastating fire which cut away half the oars, pierced the launch in many places, and cut the barrel off a musket being fired at the enemy.” 

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Army Pvt. Bruce Anderson, Company K, 142nd New York Volunteer Infantry

“Voluntarily advanced with the head of the column and cut down the palisading” during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, North Carolina on Jan. 15, 1865, according to his citation.

Army Pvt. William H. Barnes, Company C, 38th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm

September 29, 1864. “Among the first to enter the enemy’s works, although wounded.”

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Army 1st Sgt. Powhatan Beaty, Company G, 5th U.S. Colored Infantry , Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.”

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Navy Sailor Robert Blake, USS Marblehead 

“On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John’s Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement, which resulted in the enemy’s abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind.”

Army First Sergeant James H. Bronson, Company D, 5th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.”

Navy Landsman William H. Brown, USS Brooklyn, Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama

August 5, 1864: “On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during successful attacks against Fort Morgan rebel gunboats and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, on 5 August 1864. Stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips which were twice cleared of men by bursting shells, Brown remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action, which resulted in the surrender of the prize rebel ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.”

Navy Landsman Wilson Brown, USS Hartford, Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama

August 5, 1864: “On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats, and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, on 5 August 1864. Knocked unconscious into the hold of the ship when an enemy shellburst fatally wounded a man on the ladder above him, Brown, upon regaining consciousness, promptly returned to the shell whip on the berth deck and zealously continued to perform his duties, although four of the six men at this station had been either killed or wounded by the enemy’s terrific fire.”

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Army Sergeant William Harvey Carney, Company C, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Battle of Fort Wagner, Morris Island, South Carolina

July 18, 1863: “When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.”

Army Sergeant (Highest Rank: First Sergeant) Decatur Dorsey, Company B, 39th U.S. Colored Troops, Battle of the Crater, Petersburg, Virginia

July 30, 1864:  “Planted his colors on the Confederate works in advance of his regiment, and when the regiment was driven back to the Union works he carried the colors there and bravely rallied the men.”

Navy Signal Quartermaster Thomas English, USS New Ironsides, First and Second Battles of Fort Fisher, North Carolina

“English served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14 and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions and dismount several guns during the first two days of fighting. Taken under fire as she steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought and took on ammunition at night despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy came out of his bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship’s battery disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the cease-fire orders were given by the flagship”.

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Army Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood, 54h U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Seized the colors, after 2 color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight”

These are America’s Black Medal of Honor recipients

Army Pvt. James Daniel Gardner, Company I, 36th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864. “Rushed in advance of his brigade, shot a rebel officer who was on the parapet rallying his men, and then ran him through with his bayonet.”

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Army Sgt. James H. Harris, Company B, 38th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of New Market Heights, Virginia

September 29, 1864. “Gallantry in the assault.”

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Army Sergeant Major Thomas R. Hawkins, 6th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Rescue of regimental colors.”

Army Sgt. Alfred B. Hilton*, Company H, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “When the regimental color bearer fell, this soldier seized the colors and carried it forward, together with the national standard, until disabled at the enemy’s inner line.”

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Army Sgt. Maj. Milton M. Holland, Company C, 5th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Took command of Company C, after all the officers had been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it.”

Army Corporal (Highest Rank: First Sergeant) Miles James, Company B, 36th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 30, 1864: “, Having had his arm mutilated, making immediate amputation necessary, he loaded and discharged his piece with one hand and urged his men forward; this within 30 yards of the enemy’s works.”

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Army First Sergeant Alexander Kelly, Company F, 6th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy’s lines of abatis, raised them, and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger.”

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Navy Landsman John Henry Lawson, USS Hartford, Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama,

August 5, 1864: “On board the flagship U.S.S. Hartford during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats, and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864. Wounded in the leg and thrown violently against the side of the ship when an enemy shell killed or wounded the six-man crew as the shell whipped on the berth deck, Lawson, upon regaining his composure, promptly returned to his station and, although urged to go below for treatment, steadfastly continued his duties throughout the remainder of the action.”

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Navy Engineer’s Cook, James Mifflin, USS Brooklyn, Battle of Mobile Bay, Alabama,

August 5, 1864: “On board the U.S.S. Brooklyn during successful attacks against Fort Morgan, rebel gunboats, and the ram Tennessee in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Stationed in the immediate vicinity of the shell whips, which were twice cleared of men by bursting shells, Mifflin remained steadfast at his post and performed his duties in the powder division throughout the furious action which resulted in the surrender of the prize ram Tennessee and in the damaging and destruction of batteries at Fort Morgan.”

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Navy Seaman, Joachim Pease, USS Kearsarge, Naval battle off Cherbourg, France

June 19, 1864: “Served as seaman on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge when she destroyed the Alabama off Cherbourg, France, 19 June 1864. Acting as loader on the No. 2 gun during this bitter engagement, Pease exhibited marked coolness and good conduct and was highly recommended by the divisional officer for gallantry under fire.”

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Army 1st Sgt. Robert PinnCompany I, 5th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Took command of his company after all the officers had been killed or wounded and gallantly led it in battle.”

Army First Sergeant (Highest Rank: Sgt. Maj.) Edward RatcliffCompany C, 38th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Commanded and gallantly led his company after the commanding officer had been killed; was the first enlisted man to enter the enemy’s works.”

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Army Cpl. Andrew Jackson Smith55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina

Awarded in 2001 for actions on November 30, 1864: “Corporal Andrew Jackson Smith, of Clinton, Illinois, a member of the 55th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry, distinguished himself on 30 November 1864 by saving his regimental colors, after the color bearer was killed during a bloody charge at the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina. In the late afternoon, as the 55th Regiment pursued enemy skirmishers and conducted a running fight, they ran into a swampy area backed by a rise where the Confederate Army awaited. The surrounding woods and thick underbrush impeded infantry movement and artillery support. The 55th and 54th regiments formed columns to advance to the enemy position in a flanking movement. As the Confederates repelled other units, the 55th and 54th regiments continued to move into flanking positions. Forced into a narrow gorge crossing a swamp in the face of the enemy positions, the 55th’s Color-Sergeant was killed by an exploding shell, and Corporal Smith took the Regimental Colors from his hand and carried them through heavy grape and canister fire. Although half of the officers and a third of the enlisted men engaged in the fight were killed or wounded, Corporal Smith continued to expose himself to the enemy fire by carrying the colors throughout the battle. Through his actions, the Regimental Colors of the 55th Infantry Regiment were not lost to the enemy. Corporal Andrew Jackson Smith’s extraordinary valor in the face of deadly enemy fire is in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon him, the 55th Regiment, and the United States Army.”

Army Pvt. Charles Veale, Company D, 4th U.S. Colored Infantry, Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia

September 29, 1864: “Seized the national colors, after two color bearers had been shot down close to the enemy’s works, and bore them through the remainder of the battle.”

Indian Wars

Eighteen Black servicemembers earned the Medals of Honor during the Indian Wars in the United States. 

Army Sergeant Thomas Boyne, Company C, 9th Cavalry Regiment, near Cuchillo Negro River & Mimbres Mountains, New Mexico, USA

May 29, 1879, and September 27, 1879: “Bravery in action.”

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Army Sergeant Benjamin Brown, Company C, 24th Cavalry Regiment, in Arizona, USA

May 11, 1889: “Although shot in the abdomen, in a fight between a paymaster’s escort and robbers, did not leave the field until again wounded through both arms.”

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Army Sgt. John Denny, Company C, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Las Animas Canyon, New Mexico

September 18, 1879: “Removed a wounded comrade, under a heavy fire, to a place of safety.”

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Army Pvt.Pompey Factor, Indian Scouts, 24th Infantry Regiment,  Pecos River, Texas

April 25, 1875: “With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.”

Army Cpl. Clinton Greaves, Company C, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Florida Mountains, Luna County, New Mexico,

January 24, 1877: While part of a small detachment to persuade a band of renegade Apache Indians to surrender, his group was surrounded. Cpl. Greaves in the center of the savage hand-to-hand fighting, managed to shoot and bash a gap through the swarming Apaches, permitting his companions to break free.

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Army Sgt. Henry Johnson, Company D, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Milk River, Colorado

October 2 1879- October 5, 1879:  “Voluntarily left fortified shelter and under heavy fire at close-range made the rounds of the pits to instruct the guards; fought his way to the creek and back to bring water to the wounded.”

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Army Sgt.  George Jordan, Company K, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico

May 14, 1880, and August 12, 1881: “While commanding a detachment of 25 men at Fort Tularosa, N. Mex., repulsed a force of more than 100 Indians. At Carrizo Canyon, N. Mex., while commanding the right of a detachment of 19 men, 12 August 1881, he stubbornly held his ground in an extremely exposed position and gallantly forced back a much superior number of the enemy, preventing them from surrounding the command.”

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Army Cpl. Isaiah Mays, Company B, 24th Infantry Regiment, Cedar Springs, Arizona

May 11, 1889: “Gallantry in the fight between Paymaster Wham’s escort and robbers. Mays walked and crawled 2 miles to a ranch for help.”

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Army Sgt. (Highest Rank: First Lieutenant )William McBryar, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Salt River, north of Globe, Arizona,

March 7, 1890: “Distinguished himself for coolness, bravery and marksmanship while his troop was in pursuit of hostile Apache Indians.”

Army Pvt. Adam Paine, Indian Scouts,  Canyon Blanco, Staked Plains, Texas (Red River War),

September 26, September 27, 1874: “Rendered invaluable service to Col. R. S. Mackenzie, 4th U.S. Cavalry, during this engagement.”

Army Trumpeter Isaac Payne, Indian Scouts, 24th Infantry Regiment,  Pecos River, Texas

April 25, 1875: “With 3 other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.”

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Army Sgt. Thomas Shaw, Company K, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Carrizo Canyon, New Mexico

August 12, 1881: “Forced the enemy back after stubbornly holding his ground in an extremely exposed position and prevented the enemy’s superior numbers from surrounding his command.”

Army Sergeant Emanuel Stance, Company F, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Kickapoo Springs, Texas 


May 20, 1870: Gallantry on scout after Indians.

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Army Pvt. (Highest Rank: 1st Sgt.) Augustus Walley,  Company I, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico

August 16, 1881: Bravery in action with hostile Apaches

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Army Sgt. John Ward,  Indian Scouts, 24th Infantry Regiment, Pecos River, Texas

April 25, 1875: “With three other men, he participated in a charge against 25 hostiles while on a scouting patrol.”

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Army 1st Sgt. (Highest Rank: Ordnance Sergeant)  Augustus Walley,  Company I, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Cuchillo Negro Mountains, New Mexico

August 16, 1881: “Rallied a detachment, skillfully conducted a running fight of three or four hours, and by his coolness, bravery, and unflinching devotion to duty in standing by his commanding officer in an exposed position under a heavy fire from a large party of Indians saved the lives of at least three of his comrades.”

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Army Cpl John Ward, Company I, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Sioux Campaign,

December 30, 1890: “Bravery.”

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Army Sgt.  Brent Woods,, Company B, 9th Cavalry Regiment, Gavilan Canyon, New Mexico

August 19, 1881,:Saved the lives of his comrades and citizens of the detachment.”

Spanish American War

Six Black servicemembers earned the Medal of Honor during the Spanish–American War.

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Army Sgt. Maj.  (Highest Rank: Capt.)  Edward L. Baker, Jr.,  10th Cavalry Regiment, Santiago, Cuba

July 1, 1898: “Left cover and, under fire, rescued a wounded comrade from drowning.”

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Army Pvt.  Dennis Bell, Troop H, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Battle of Tayacoba, Cuba

June 30, 1898:“Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.”

Army Pvt.  Fitz Lee, Troop H, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Battle of Tayacoba, Cuba

June 30, 1898: “Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.”

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Navy Fireman First Class  Robert Penn, USS Iowa, Santiago de Cuba

July 20, 1898: “Performing his duty at the risk of serious scalding at the time of the blowing out of the manhole gasket on board the vessel, Penn hauled the fire while standing on a board thrown across a coal bucket 1 foot above the boiling water which was still blowing from the boiler.”

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Army Pvt. (Highest Rank: Sgt.) William H. Thompkins, Troop G, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Battle of Tayacoba, Cuba

June 30, 1898: “Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.”

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Army Pvt. (Highest Rank: Master Sergeant)  George H. Wanton, Troop M, 10th Cavalry Regiment, Battle of Tayacoba, Cuba

June 30, 1898: “Voluntarily went ashore in the face of the enemy and aided in the rescue of his wounded comrades; this after several previous attempts at rescue had been frustrated.”

China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion)

Navy Acting Chief Water Tender Frank Elmer SmithUSS Newark, China

June 20-22, 1900: “In action with the relief expedition of the Allied forces in China during the battles of 13, 20, 21, and 22 June 1900. Throughout this period and in the presence of the enemy, Smith distinguished himself by meritorious conduct.”

World War I

Only two African American servicemembers received the Medal of Honor for their actions in World War I, decades after their actions.

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Army Cpl. Freddie Stowers, Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Division, Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France (Presented on April 24, 1991).

September 28, 1918: 

“Cpl. Freddie Stowers distinguished himself by exceptional heroism on 28 September 1918 while serving as a squad leader in Company C, 371st Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division. His company was the lead company during the attack on Hill 188, Champagne Marne Sector, France, during World War I. A few minutes after the attack began, the enemy ceased firing and began climbing up onto the parapets of the trenches, holding up their arms as if wishing to surrender. The enemy’s actions caused the American forces to cease fire and to come out into the open. As the company started forward and when within about 100 meters of the trench line, the enemy jumped back into their trenches and greeted Cpl. Stowers’ company with interlocking bands of machine-gun fire and mortar fire causing well over fifty percent casualties. 

Faced with incredible enemy resistance, Cpl. Stowers took charge, setting such a courageous example of personal bravery and leadership that he inspired his men to follow him in the attack. With extraordinary heroism and complete disregard of personal danger under devastating fire, he crawled forward, leading his squad toward an enemy machine-gun nest which was causing heavy casualties to his company. After fierce fighting, the machine-gun position was destroyed, and the enemy soldiers were killed. Displaying great courage and intrepidity Cpl. Stowers continued to press the attack against a determined enemy. While crawling forward and urging his men to continue the attack on a second trench line, he was gravely wounded by machine-gun fire. Although Cpl. Stowers was mortally wounded, he pressed forward, urging on the members of his squad, until he died. Inspired by the heroism and display of bravery of Cpl. Stowers, his company continued the attack against incredible odds, contributing to the capture of Hill 188 and causing heavy enemy casualties.

Cpl. Stowers’ conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and supreme devotion to his men were well above and beyond the call of duty, follow the finest traditions of military service, and reflect the utmost credit on him and the United States Army.”

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Army Pvt.  Henry Johnson, Company C, U.S. 369th Infantry Regiment (United States), 93d Division, NW St. Menehoul, Argonne Forest, France (Presented on June 2, 2015).

May 15, 1918: 

“Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division, American Expeditionary Forces on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France. In the early morning hours, Private Johnson and another soldier were on sentry duty at a forward outpost when they received a surprise attack from a German raiding party consisting of at least 12 soldiers. While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds, Private Johnson mounted a brave retaliation, resulting in several enemy casualties. 

When his fellow soldier was badly wounded and being carried away by the enemy, Private Johnson exposed himself to grave danger by advancing from his position to engage the two enemy captors in hand-to-hand combat. Wielding only a knife and gravely wounded himself, Private Johnson continued fighting, defeating the two captors and rescuing the wounded soldier. Displaying great courage, he continued to hold back the larger enemy force until the defeated enemy retreated leaving behind a large cache of weapons and equipment and providing valuable intelligence. Without Private Johnson’s quick actions and continued fighting, even in the face of almost certain death, the enemy might have succeeded in capturing prisoners and the outpost, without abandoning valuable intelligence. Private Johnson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93d Infantry Division and the United States Army.”

World War II

No African American servicemember was awarded a Medal of Honor during WWII due to systematic racial discrimination by the United States military during the war. It took until January 13, 1997, for this to be rectified, when seven African American servicemembers were awarded the medal. Only one, Vernon Baker, was still alive at the time of the presentation as the others were killed in action or had died in the intervening five decades.

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Army 1st Lt.  Vernon Baker, Weapons Platoon, Company C 370th Infantry Regiment, 92d Infantry Division (Colored), Near Castle Aghinolfi, Germany

April 5, 1945 and April 6, 1945: 

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:First Lieutenant Vernon J. Baker distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945. At 0500 hours on 5 April 1945, Lieutenant Baker advanced at the head of his weapons platoon, along with Company C’s three rifle platoons, towards their objective; Castle Aghinolfi – a German mountain strong point on the high ground just east of the coastal highway and about two miles from the 370th infantry Regiment’s line of departure. Moving more rapidly than the rest of the company, Lieutenant Baker and about 25 men reached the south side of a draw some 250 yards from the castle within two hours. In reconnoitering for a suitable position to set up a machine gun, Lieutenant Baker observed two cylindrical objects pointing out of a slit in a mount at the edge of a hill. Crawling up and under the opening, he stuck his M-1 into the slit and emptied the clip, killing the observation post’s two occupants. Moving to another position in the same area, Lieutenant Baker stumbled upon a well-camouflaged machine gun nest, the crew of which was eating breakfast. He shot and killed both enemy soldiers. 

After Captain John F. Runyon, Company C’s Commander joined the group, a German soldier appeared from the draw and hurled a grenade which failed to explode. Lieutenant Baker shot the enemy soldier twice as he tried to flee. Lieutenant Baker then went down into the draw alone. There he blasted open the concealed entrance of another dugout with a hand grenade, shot one German soldier who emerged after the explosion, tossed another grenade into the dugout and entered firing his sub-machine gun, killing two more Germans. As Lieutenant Baker climbed back out of the draw, enemy machine gun and mortar fire began to inflict heavy casualties among the group of 25 soldiers, killing or wounding about two-thirds of them. When expected reinforcements did not arrive, Captain Runyon ordered a withdrawal in two groups. Lieutenant Baker volunteered to cover the withdrawal of the first group, which consisted mostly of walking wounded, and to remain to assist in the evacuation of the more seriously wounded. 

During the second group’s withdrawal, Lieutenant Baker, supported by covering fire from one of his platoon members, destroyed two machine gun positions (previously bypassed during the assault) with hand grenades. In all, Lieutenant Baker accounted for nine enemy dead soldiers, elimination of three machine gun positions, an observation post, and a dugout. On the following night, Lieutenant Baker voluntarily led a battalion advance through enemy mine fields and heavy fire toward the division objective. Lieutenant Baker’s fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his men and exemplify the highest traditions of the military service.”

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Army Staff Sgt.  (Highest Rank: Sgt. 1st Class)  Edward A. Carter, Jr.

Infantry Company Number 1 (Provisional), Seventh Army, near Speyer, Germany,

March 23, 1945

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Edward A. Carter, Jr. Distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 23 March 1945. At approximately 0830 hours, 23 March 1945, near Speyer, Germany, the tank upon which Staff Sergeant Carter was riding received bazooka and small arms fire from the vicinity of a large warehouse to its left front. Staff Sergeant Carter and his squad took cover behind an intervening road bank. Staff Sergeant Carter volunteered to lead a three-man patrol to the warehouse where other unit members noticed the original bazooka fire. From here they were to ascertain the location and strength of the opposing position and advance approximately 150 yards across an open field. Enemy small arms fire covered this field. As the patrol left this covered position, they received intense enemy small arms fire killing one member of the patrol instantly. This caused Staff Sergeant Carter to order the other two members of the patrol to return to the covered position and cover him with rifle fire while he proceeded alone to carry out the mission. The enemy fire killed one of the two soldiers while they were returning to the covered position, and seriously wounded the remaining soldier before he reached the covered position. 

An enemy machine gun burst wounded Staff Sergeant Carter three times in the left arm as he continued the advance. He continued and received another wound in his left leg that knocked him from his feet. As Staff Sergeant Carter took wound tablets and drank from his canteen, the enemy shot it from his left hand, with the bullet going through his hand. Disregarding these wounds, Staff Sergeant Carter continued the advance by crawling until he was within thirty yards of his objective. The enemy fire became so heavy that Staff Sergeant Carter took cover behind a bank and remained there for approximately two hours. Eight enemy riflemen approached Staff Sergeant Carter, apparently to take him prisoner, Staff Sergeant Carter killed six of the enemy soldiers and captured the remaining two. These two enemy soldiers later gave valuable information concerning the number and disposition of enemy troops. Staff Sergeant Carter refused evacuation until he had given full information about what he had observed and learned from the captured enemy soldiers. This information greatly facilitated the advance on Speyer. Staff Sergeant Carter’s extraordinary heroism was an inspiration to the officers and men of the Seventh Army, Infantry Company Number 1 (Provisional) and exemplify the highest traditions of the military service.”

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Army 1st Lt.  John R. Fox, Attached to the 598th Field Artillery Battalion, Cannon Company, 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Infantry Division (Colored), Serchio River Valley In The Vicinity Of Sommocolonia, Italy,

December 26, 1944

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidityat the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: First Lieutenant John R. Fox distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life on 26 December 1944 in the Serchio River Valley Sector, in the vicinity of Sommocolonia, Italy. Lieutenant Fox was a member of Cannon Company, 366th Infantry, 92d Infantry Division, acting as a forward observer, while attached to the 598th Field Artillery Battalion. Christmas Day in the Serchio Valley was spent in positionswhich had been occupied for some weeks. During Christmas night, there was a gradual influx of enemy soldiers in civilian clothes and by early morning the town was largely in enemy hands. An organized attack by uniformed German formations was launched around 0400 hours, 26 December 1944. Reports were received that the area was being heavily shelled by everything the Germans had, and although most of the U.S. infantry forces withdrew from the town, Lieutenant Fox and members of his observer party remained behind on the second floor of a house, directing defensive fires. Lieutenant Fox reported at 0800 hours that the Germans were in the streets and attacking in strength. He called for artillery fire increasingly close to his own position. He told his battalion commander, “That was just where I wanted it. Bring it in 60 yards!” His commander protested that there was a heavy barrage in the area and the bombardment would be too close. Lieutenant Fox gave his adjustment, requesting that the barrage be fired. The distance was cut in half. 

The Germans continued to press forward in large numbers, surrounding the position. Lieutenant Fox again called for artillery fire with the commander protesting again, stating, “Fox, that will be on you!” The last communication from Lieutenant Fox was, “Fire It! There’s more of them than there are of us. Give them hell!” The bodies of Lieutenant Fox and his party were found in the vicinity of his position when his position was taken. This action, by Lieutenant Fox, at the cost of his own life, inflicted heavy casualties, causing the deaths of approxamately 100 German soldiers, thereby delaying the advance of the enemy until infantry and artillery units could by reorganized to meet the attack. Lieutenant Fox’s extraordinarily valorous actions exemplify the highest traditions of the military service.”

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Army Pvt. 1st Class  Willy F. James, Jr., Company G, 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th Infantry Division, near Lippoldsberg, Germany

April 7, 1945: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Private First Class Willy F. James, Jr. Distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism at the risk of his own life on 7 April 1945 in the Weser River Valley, in the vicinity of Lippoldsberg, Germany. On 7 April 1945, Company G, 413 Infantry, fought its way across the Weser River in order to establish a crucial bridgehead. The company then launched a fierce attack against the town of Lippoldsberg, possession of which was vital to securing and expanding the important bridgehead. Private First Class James was first scout of the lead squad in the assault platoon. The mission of the unit was to seize and secure a group of houses on the edge of town, a foothold from which the unit could launch an attack on the rest of the town. Far out in front, Private First Class James was the first to draw enemy fire. His platoon leader came forward to investigate, but poor visibility made it difficult for Private First Class James to point out enemy positions with any accuracy. Private First Class James volunteered to go forward to fully reconnoiter the enemy situation. Furious crossfire from enemy snipers and machineguns finally pinned down Private First Class James after making his way forward approximately 200 yards across open terrain. Lying in an exposed position for more than an hour, Private First Class James intrepidly observed the enemy’s positions which were given away by the fire Private First Class James was daringly drawing upon himself. Then, with utter indifference to his personal safety, in a storm of enemy small arms fire, Private First Class James made his way back more than 300 yards across open terrain under enemy observation to his platoon positions, and gave a full, detailed report on the enemy disposition. The unit worked out a new plan on maneuver based on Private First Class James’ information. 

The gallant soldier volunteered to lead a squad in an assault on the key house in the group that formed the platoon objective. He made his way forward, leading his squad in the assault on the strongly held enemy positions in the building and designating targets accurately and continuously as he moved along. While doing so, Private First Class James saw his platoon leader shot down by enemy snipers. Hastily designating and coolly orienting a leader in his place, Private First Class James instantly went to the aid of his platoon leader, exposing himself recklessly to the incessant enemy fire. As he was making his way across open ground, Private First Class James was killed by a burst from an enemy machine gun. Private First Class James’ extraordinary heroic action in the face of withering enemy fire provided the disposition of enemy troops to his platoon. Inspired to the utmost by Private First Class James’ self-sacrifice, the platoon sustained the momentum of the assault and successfully accomplished its mission with a minimum of casualties. Private First Class James contributed very definitely to the success of his battalion in the vitally important combat operation of establishing and expanding a bridgehead over the Weser River. His fearless, self-assigned actions, far above and beyond the normal call of duty, exemplify the finest traditions of the American combat soldier and reflect with highest credit upon Private First Class James and the Armed Forces of the United States.”

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Army Staff Sgt.  Ruben Rivers*, Company A, 761st Tank Battalion (Colored), 26th Infantry Division (United States), Guebling, France,

November 16- November 19, 1944: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Staff Sergeant Rivers distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action during 16-19 November 1944, while serving with Company A, 761st Tank Battalion. On 16 November 1944, while advancing toward the town of Guebling, France, Staff Sergeant Rivers’ tank hit a mine at a railroad crossing. Although severely wounded, his leg slashed to the bone, Staff Sergeant Rivers declined an injection of morphine, refused to be evacuated, took command of another tank, and advanced with his company into Guebling the next day. Repeatedly refusing evacuation, Staff Sergeant Rivers continued to direct his tank’s fire at enemy positions beyond the town through the morning of 19 November 1944. At dawn that day, Company As’ tanks advanced toward Bourgaltoff, their next objective, but were stopped by enemy fire. Captain David J. Williams, the Company Commander, ordered his tanks to withdraw and take cover. Staff Sergeant Rivers, however, radioed that he had spotted the German antitank positions: “I see ’em. We’ll Fight’em!” Staff Sergeant Rivers, joined by another Company A tank, opened fire on enemy tanks, covering Company A as they withdrew. While doing so, Staff Sergeant Rivers’ tank was hit, killing him and wounding the rest of the crew. Staff Sergeant Rivers’ fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his unit and exemplify the highest traditions of military service.”

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Army 1st Lt.  Charles L. Thomas*,  Company C, 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 411th Infantry Regiment, 103rd Infantry Division, near Climbach, France

December 14, 1944

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Then Lieutenant Charles L. Thomas distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 14 December 1944. One platoon of Company C, 614th Tank Destroyer Battalion, was designated as the lead element in a task force formed to storm and capture the village of Climbach, France. Lieutenant Thomas, the Commanding Officer of Company C, realized, with the obscurity of information regarding the enemy and a complete lack of reconnaissance, the mission would be an extremely dangerous one. Fully cognizant of the danger, Lieutenant Thomas volunteered to command the selected platoon of his company and ride in the column’s leading vehicle – a highly maneuverable, but equally vulnerable, M-20 scout car. Lieutenant Thomas knew that if there was a concentration of enemy armor in the village, as was believed, he would absorb the initial shock of the first enemy resistance. The task force left Preuschdorf, France, at 1023 hours, and proceeded to advance in column toward Climbach. Lieutenant Thomas in his scout car stayed well in front of the column. At 1400 hours, upon reaching the high ground southeast of the village, Lieutenant Thomas experienced initial contact with the enemy. As his scout car advanced to an exposed position on the heights, he received intense direct fire from enemy artillery, self-propelled guns, and small arms at a range of seven hundred yards. 

The first burst of hostile fire disabled the scout car and severely wounded Lieutenant Thomas. He immediately signaled the column to halt. Before leaving the wrecked vehicle, Lieutenant Thomas and the crew found themselves subjected to a veritable hail of enemy fire. Lieutenant Thomas received multiple gunshot wounds in his chest, legs, and left arm. In spite of the intense pain caused by his wounds, Lieutenant Thomas ordered and directed the dispersion and emplacement of his first two antitank guns. In a few minutes these guns were effectively returning the enemy fire. Realizing that it would be impossible for him to remain in command of the platoon because of his injuries, Lieutenant Thomas then signaled for the platoon commander to join him. Lieutenant Thomas then thoroughly oriented him as to the enemy gun positions, his ammunition status, and the general situation. Although fully cognizant of the probable drastic consequences of not receiving prompt medical attention, Lieutenant Thomas refused evacuation until he felt certain that his junior officer was in full control of the situation. Only then did Lieutenant Thomas allow his evacuation to the rear. Throughout the action, Lieutenant Thomas displayed magnificent personal courage and a complete disregard for his own safety. His extraordinary heroism spurred the soldiers of the platoon to a fierce determination to triumph, and resulted in a mass display of heroism by them. Lieutenant Thomas’ intrepid actions throughout the operation reflect the highest traditions of military service.”

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Army Pvt.  George Watson*, 2nd Battalion, 29th Quartermaster Regiment, Quartermaster Corps, Porlock Harbor, New Guinea

March 8, 1943: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty: Private George Watson distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism on 8 March 1943, while serving in the Pacific Command with the 2d Battalion, 29th Quartermaster Regiment, near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea. Private Watson was onboard a troop ship, the Dutch Steamer (United States Army Transport) Jacob, when it was attacked and hit by enemy bombers. Before it sank, the ship was abandoned. Private Watson, instead of seeking to save himself, remained in deep waters long enough to assist several soldiers who could not swim to reach the safety of a life raft. This heroic action, which subsequently cost him his life, resulted in saving the lives of several of his comrades. Weakened by continuous physical exertion and overcome by muscular fatigue, Private Watson drowned when the suction of the sinking ship dragged him beneath the surface of the swirling waters. His demonstrated bravery and unselfish act set in motion a train of compelling events that finally led to American victory in the Pacific. Private Watson’s extraordinary valorous actions, his daring and inspiring leadership, and his self-sacrificing devotion to his fellow man exemplify the finest traditions of military service.”

Korean War

Two Black servicemembers received the Medal of Honor for action in the Korean War.

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Army Sgt.  Cornelius H. Charlton*,  Company C, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Near Chipo-ri, Korea

June 2, 1951:

“Sgt. Charlton, a member of Company C, distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. His platoon was attacking heavily defended hostile positions on commanding ground when the leader was wounded and evacuated. Sgt. Charlton assumed command, rallied the men, and spearheaded the assault against the hill. Personally eliminating two hostile positions and killing six of the enemy with his rifle fire and grenades, he continued up the slope until the unit suffered heavy casualties and became pinned down. Regrouping the men, he led them forward only to be again hurled back by a shower of grenades. Despite a severe chest wound, Sgt. Charlton refused medical attention and led a third daring charge which carried to the crest of the ridge. Observing that the remaining emplacement which had retarded the advance was situated on the reverse slope, he charged it alone, was again hit by a grenade but raked the position with a devastating fire which eliminated it and routed the defenders. The wounds received during his daring exploits resulted in his death, but his indomitable courage, superb leadership, and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit upon himself, the infantry, and the military service.”

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Army Pvt. 1st Class  William Henry Thompson, Company M, 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Near Haman, Korea

August 6, 1950:

“Pfc. Thompson distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy. While his platoon was reorganizing under cover of darkness, fanatical enemy forces in overwhelming strength launched a surprise attack on the unit. Pfc. Thompson set up his machine gun in the path of the onslaught and swept the enemy with withering fire, pinning them down momentarily, thus permitting the remainder of his platoon to withdraw to a more tenable position. Although hit repeatedly by grenade fragments and small-arms fire, he resisted all efforts of his comrades to induce him to withdraw, steadfastly remained at his machine gun and continued to deliver deadly, accurate fire until mortally wounded by an enemy grenade. Pfc. Thompson’s dauntless courage and gallant self-sacrifice reflect the highest credit on himself and uphold the esteemed traditions of military service.”

Vietnam War

Twenty-two African Americans were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the Vietnam War.

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Marine Corps Pvt. 1st Class  James Anderson, Jr.*, 2d Platoon, Company F, 2d Battalion, 3d Marines,3d Marine Division (REIN) FMF, Cam Lo, Vietnam

February 28, 1967:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Company F was advancing in dense jungle northwest of Cam Lo in an effort to extract a heavily besieged reconnaissance patrol. Pfc. Anderson’s platoon was the lead element and had advanced only about 200 meters when they were brought under extremely intense enemy small-arms and automatic-weapons fire. The platoon reacted swiftly, getting on line as best they could in the thick terrain, and began returning fire. Pfc. Anderson found himself tightly bunched together with the other members of the platoon only 20 meters from the enemy positions. As the firefight continued several of the men were wounded by the deadly enemy assault. Suddenly, an enemy grenade landed in the midst of the marines and rolled alongside Pfc. Anderson’s head. Unhesitatingly and with complete disregard for his personal safety, he reached out, grasped the grenade, pulled it to his chest and curled around it as it went off. Although several marines received shrapnel from the grenade, his body absorbed the major force of the explosion. In this singularly heroic act, Pfc. Anderson saved his comrades from serious injury and possible death. His personal heroism, extraordinary valor, and inspirational supreme self-sacrifice reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

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Army Staff Sgt. (Highest Rank: Sgt. 1st Class)  Webster Anderson

Battery A, 2d Battalion, 320th Artillery, 101st Airborne Division (Airmobile), Tam Kỳ, Vietnam

October 15, 1967:

“Sfc. Anderson (then S/Sgt.) distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as chief of section in Battery A, against a hostile force. During the early morning hours Battery A’s defensive position was attacked by a determined North Vietnamese Army infantry unit supported by heavy mortar, recoilless-rifle, rocket-propelled-grenade and automatic-weapons fire. The initial enemy onslaught breached the battery defensive perimeter. Sfc. Anderson, with complete disregard for his personal safety, mounted the exposed parapet of his howitzer position and became the mainstay of the defense of the battery position. Sfc. Anderson directed devastating direct howitzer fire on the assaulting enemy while providing rifle and grenade defensive fire against enemy soldiers attempting to overrun his gun section position. While protecting his crew and directing their fire against the enemy from his exposed position, two enemy grenades exploded at his feet knocking him down and severely wounding him in the legs. Despite the excruciating pain and though not able to stand, Sfc. Anderson valorously propped himself on the parapet and continued to direct howitzer fire upon the closing enemy and to encourage his men to fight on. Seeing an enemy grenade land within the gun pit near a wounded member of his gun crew, Sfc. Anderson heedless of his own safety, seized the grenade and attempted to throw it over the parapet to save his men. As the grenade was thrown from the position it exploded and Sfc. Anderson was again grievously wounded. Although only partially conscious and severely wounded, Sfc. Anderson refused medical evacuation and continued to encourage his men in the defense of the position. Sfc. Anderson, by his inspirational leadership, professionalism, devotion to duty, and complete disregard for his welfare, was able to maintain the defense of his section position and to defeat a determined attack. Sfc. Anderson’s gallantry and extraordinary heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Eugene Ashley, Jr.*, Detachment A-101, Company C,5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Battle of Lang Vei, Vietnam

February 6, 1968 –February 7, 1968:

“Sfc. Ashley distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with Detachment A-101, Company C. Sfc. Ashley was the senior Special Forces Advisor of a hastily organized assault force whose mission was to rescue entrapped U.S. Special Forces advisers at Camp Lang Vei. During the initial attack on the Special Forces camp by North Vietnamese Army forces, Sfc. Ashley supported the camp with high-explosive and illumination mortar rounds. When communications were lost with the main camp, he assumed the additional responsibility of directing air strikes and artillery support. Sfc. Ashley organized and equipped a small assault force composed of local friendly personnel. During the ensuing battle, Sfc. Ashley led a total of five vigorous assaults against the enemy, continuously exposing himself to a voluminous hail of enemy grenades, machine gun and automatic-weapons fire. Throughout these assaults, he was plagued by numerous boobytrapped satchel charges in all bunkers on his avenue of approach. 

During his fifth and final assault, he adjusted air strikes nearly on top of his assault element, forcing the enemy to withdraw and resulting in friendly control of the summit of the hill. While exposing himself to intense enemy fire, he was seriously wounded by machine-gun fire but continued his mission without regard for his personal safety. After the fifth assault he lost consciousness and was carried from the summit by his comrades only to suffer a fatal wound when an enemy artillery round landed in the area. Sfc. Ashley displayed extraordinary heroism in risking his life in an attempt to save the lives of his entrapped comrades and commanding officer. His total disregard for his personal safety while exposed to enemy observation and automatic-weapons fire was an inspiration to all men committed to the assault. The resolute valor with which he led five gallant charges placed critical diversionary pressure on the attacking enemy and his valiant efforts carved a channel in the overpowering enemy forces and weapons positions through which the survivors of Camp Lang Vei eventually escaped to freedom. Sfc. Ashley’s bravery at the cost of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service, and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

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Marine Corps Pvt. 1st Class  Oscar P. Austin Company F, 2d Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Da Nang, Vietnam, 

February 23, 1969:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an assistant machine gunner with Company E, in connection with operations against enemy forces. During the early morning hours Pfc. Austin’s observation post was subjected to a fierce ground attack by a large North Vietnamese Army force supported by a heavy volume of hand grenades, satchel charges, and small-arms fire. Observing that one of his wounded companions had fallen unconscious in a position dangerously exposed to the hostile fire, Pfc. Austin unhesitatingly left the relative security of his fighting hole and, with complete disregard for his safety, raced across the fire-swept terrain to assist the marine to a covered location. As he neared the casualty, he observed an enemy grenade land nearby and reacting instantly, leaped between the injured marine and the lethal object, absorbing the effects of its detonation. As he ignored his painful injuries and turned to examine the wounded man, he saw a North Vietnamese Army soldier aiming a weapon at his unconscious companion. With full knowledge of the probable consequences and thinking only to protect the marine, Pfc. Austin resolutely threw himself between the casualty and the hostile soldier, and in so doing, was mortally wounded. Pfc. Austin’s indomitable courage, inspiring initiative and selfless devotion to duty upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

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Army Sgt. 1st Class William Maud Bryant, Company A,5th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces, Long Khánh Province, Vietnam

March 24, 1969: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sfc. Bryant, assigned to Company A, distinguished himself while serving as commanding officer of Civilian Irregular Defense Group Company 321, 2d Battalion, 3d Mobile Strike Force Command, during combat operations. The battalion came under heavy fire and became surrounded by the elements of three enemy regiments. Sfc. Bryant displayed extraordinary heroism throughout the succeeding 34 hours of incessant attack as he moved throughout the company position heedless of the intense hostile fire while establishing and improving the defensive perimeter, directing fire during critical phases of the battle, distributing ammunition, assisting the wounded, and providing the leadership and inspirational example of courage to his men. When a helicopter drop of ammunition was made to resupply the beleaguered force, Sfc. Bryant with complete disregard for his safety ran through the heavy enemy fire to retrieve the scattered ammunition boxes and distributed needed ammunition to his men. 

“During a lull in the intense fighting, Sfc. Bryant led a patrol outside the perimeter to obtain information of the enemy. The patrol came under intense automatic-weapons fire and was pinned down. Sfc. Bryant single handedly repulsed one enemy attack on his small force and by his heroic action inspired his men to fight off other assaults. Seeing a wounded enemy soldier some distance from the patrol location, Sfc. Bryant crawled forward alone under heavy fire to retrieve the soldier for intelligence purposes. Finding that the enemy soldier had expired, Sfc. Bryant crawled back to his patrol and led his men back to the company position where he again took command of the defense. As the siege continued, Sfc. Bryant organized and led a patrol in a daring attempt to break through the enemy encirclement. The patrol had advanced some 200 meters by heavy fighting when it was pinned down by the intense automatic-weapons fire from heavily fortified bunkers and 

Sfc. Bryant was severely wounded. Despite his wounds he rallied his men, called for helicopter gunship support, and directed heavy suppressive fire upon the enemy positions. Following the last gunship attack, Sfc. Bryant fearlessly charged an enemy automatic-weapons position, overrunning it and single handedly destroying its three defenders. Inspired by his heroic example, his men renewed their attack on the entrenched enemy. While regrouping his small force for the final assault against the enemy, Sfc. Bryant fell mortally wounded by an enemy rocket. Sfc. Bryant’s selfless concern for his comrades, at the cost of his life above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

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Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant (Highest Rank: Sgt. Maj.) John Canley, Company A, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, Huế, Vietnam

February 6, 1968: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty in action against the enemy while serving as Company Gunnery Sergeant, Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division from 31 January to 6 February 1968, in the Republic of Vietnam. Company A fought off multiple vicious attacks as it rapidly moved along the highway toward Hue City to relieve friendly forces that were surrounded by enemy forces. Despite being wounded in these engagements, Gunnery Sergeant Canley repeatedly rushed across fire-swept terrain to carry his wounded Marines to safety. After his commanding officer was severely wounded, Gunnery Sergeant Canley took command and led the company into Hue City. At Hue City, caught in deadly crossfire from enemy machine gun positions, he set up a base of fire and maneuvered with a platoon in a flanking attack that eliminated several enemy positions. Retaining command of the company for three days, he led attacks against multiple enemy fortified positions while routinely braving enemy fire to carry wounded Marines to safety. 

On 4 February, he led a group of Marines into an enemy-occupied building in Hue City. He moved into the open to draw fire, located the enemy, eliminated the threat, and expanded the company’s hold on the building room by room. Gunnery Sergeant Canley then gained position above the enemy strongpoint and dropped in a large satchel charge that forced the enemy to withdraw. On 6 February, during a fierce firefight at a hospital compound, Gunnery Sergeant Canley twice scaled a wall in full view of the enemy to carry wounded Marines to safety. By his undaunted courage, selfless sacrifice, and unwavering devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Canley reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”

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Marine Corps Sgt. Rodney M. Davis*, 2D PLT, Company A, 1st Battalion,5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 

Quảng Nam Province, Vietnam 

September 6, 1967: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the right guide of the 2d Platoon, Company B, in action against enemy forces. Elements of the 2d Platoon were pinned down by a numerically superior force of attacking North Vietnamese Army regulars. Remnants of the platoon were located in a trench line where Sgt. Davis was directing the fire of his men in an attempt to repel the enemy attack. Disregarding the enemy hand grenades and high volume of small-arms and mortar fire, Sgt. Davis moved from man to man shouting words of encouragement to each of them while firing and throwing grenades at the onrushing enemy. When an enemy grenade landed in the trench in the midst of his men, Sgt. Davis realizing the gravity of the situation, and in a final valiant act of complete self-sacrifice, instantly threw himself upon the grenade, absorbing with his body the full and terrific force of the explosion. Through his extraordinary initiative and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, Sgt. Davis saved his comrades from injury and possible loss of life, enabled his platoon to hold its vital position, and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

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Marine Corps Private First Class Robert H. Jenkins, Jr.*, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division (Reinforced), Fire Support Base Argonne, DMZ, Vietnam

March 5, 1969: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a machine gunner with Company C, 3d Reconnaissance Battalion, in connection with operations against enemy forces. Early in the morning Pfc. Jenkins’ 12-man reconnaissance team was occupying a defensive position at Fire Support Base Argonne south of the Demilitarized Zone. Suddenly, the marines were assaulted by a North Vietnamese Army platoon employing mortars, automatic weapons, and hand grenades. Reacting instantly, Pfc. Jenkins and another marine quickly moved into a two-man fighting emplacement, and as they boldly delivered accurate machine-gun fire against the enemy, a North Vietnamese soldier threw a hand grenade into the friendly emplacement. Fully realizing the inevitable results of his actions, Pfc. Jenkins quickly seized his comrade, and pushing the man to the ground, he leaped on top of the marine to shield him from the explosion. Absorbing the full impact of the detonation, Pfc. Jenkins was seriously injured and subsequently succumbed to his wounds. His courage, inspiring valor, and selfless devotion to duty saved a fellow marine from serious injury or possible death and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

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 Army Spc. Six Lawrence Joel,  Headquarters &Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne)503d Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, Vietnam

November 8, 1965: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his 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 the bullets dug up the dirt around him, he held plasma bottles high while kneeling completely engrossed in his lifesaving 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 one man by placing a plastic bag over a severe chest wound to congeal the blood. As one 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.”

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Army Spc. Five Dwight H. Johnson,  Company B, 1st Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 4th Infantry Division,  Dak To, Kon Tum Province, Vietnam

January 15, 1968: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Johnson, a tank driver with Company B, was a member of a reaction force moving to aid other elements of his platoon, which was in heavy contact with a battalion-size North Vietnamese force. Sp5c. Johnson’s tank, upon reaching the point of contact, threw a track and became immobilized. Realizing that he could do no more as a driver, he climbed out of the vehicle, armed only with a .45 caliber pistol. Despite intense hostile fire, Sp5c. Johnson killed several enemy soldiers before he had expended his ammunition. Returning to his tank through a heavy volume of antitank-rocket, small-arms and automatic weapon fire, he obtained a submachine gun with which to continue his fight against the advancing enemy. Armed with this weapon, Sp5c. Johnson again braved deadly enemy fire to return to the center of the ambush site where he courageously eliminated more of the determined foe. Engaged in extremely close combat when the last of his ammunition was expended, he killed an enemy soldier with the stock end of his submachine gun. 

Now weaponless, Sp5c. Johnson ignored the enemy fire around him, climbed into his platoon sergeant’s tank, extricated a wounded crewmember and carried him to an armored personnel carrier. He then returned to the same tank and assisted in firing the main gun until it jammed. In a magnificent display of courage, Sp5c. Johnson exited the tank and again armed only with a .45 caliber pistol, engaged several North Vietnamese troops in close proximity to the vehicle. Fighting his way through devastating fire and remounting his own immobilized tank, he remained fully exposed to the enemy as he bravely and skillfully engaged them with the tank’s externally mounted .50 caliber machine gun, where he remained until the situation was brought under control. Sp5c. Johnson’s profound concern for his fellow soldiers, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Marine Corps Pvt. First Class Ralph H. Johnson, Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Reinforced), Hill 146, Quan Duc Valley, Vietnam,

March 5, 1968: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a reconnaissance scout with Company A, in action against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong forces. In the early morning hours during Operation Rock, Pfc. Johnson was a member of a 15-man reconnaissance patrol manning an observation post on Hill 146 overlooking the Quan Duc Valley deep in enemy-controlled territory. They were attacked by a platoon-size hostile force employing automatic weapons, satchel charges, and hand grenades. Suddenly, a hand grenade landed in the three-man fighting hole occupied by Pfc. Johnson and two fellow marines. Realizing the inherent danger to his two comrades, he shouted a warning and unhesitatingly hurled himself on the explosive device. When the grenade exploded, Pfc. Johnson absorbed the tremendous impact of the blast and was killed instantly. His prompt and heroic act saved the life of one marine at the cost of his life and undoubtedly prevented the enemy from penetrating his sector of the patrol’s perimeter. Pfc. Johnson’s courage, inspiring valor, and selfless devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country”

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Army Pvt. First Class Garfield M. Langhorn*, Troop C, 7th Squadron (Airmobile), 17th Cavalry, 1st Aviation Brigade, Plei Djereng, Pleiku Province, Vietnam,

January 15, 1969:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Langhorn distinguished himself while serving as a radio operator with Troop C, near Plei Djereng in Pleiku Province. Pfc. Langhorn’s platoon was inserted into a landing zone to rescue two pilots of a Cobra helicopter shot down by enemy fire on a heavily timbered slope. He provided radio coordination with the command-and-control aircraft overhead while the troops hacked their way through dense undergrowth to the wreckage, where both aviators were found dead. As the men were taking the bodies to a pickup site, they suddenly came under intense fire from North Vietnamese soldiers in camouflaged bunkers to the front and right flank, and within minutes they were surrounded. Pfc. Langhorn immediately radioed for help from the orbiting gunships, which began to place minigun and rocket fire on the aggressors. He then lay between the platoon leader and another man, operating the radio and providing covering fire for the wounded who had been moved to the center of the small perimeter. 

Darkness soon fell, making it impossible for the gunships to give accurate support, and the aggressors began to probe the perimeter. An enemy hand grenade landed in front of Pfc. Langhorn and a few feet from personnel who had become casualties. Choosing to protect these wounded, he unhesitatingly threw himself on the grenade, scooped it beneath his body, and absorbed the blast. By sacrificing himself, he saved the lives of his comrades. Pfc. Langhorn’s extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Leonard*, Company B, 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Suoi Da, Vietnam

February 28, 1967: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. His platoon was suddenly attacked by a large enemy force employing small-arms, automatic weapons, and hand grenades. Although the platoon leader and several other key leaders were among the first wounded, P/Sgt. Leonard quickly rallied his men to throw back the initial enemy assaults. During the short pause that followed, he organized a defensive perimeter, redistributed ammunition, and inspired his comrades through his forceful leadership and words of encouragement. Noticing a wounded companion outside the perimeter, he dragged the man to safety but was struck by a sniper’s bullet which shattered his left hand. Refusing medical attention and continuously exposing himself to the increasing fire as the enemy again assaulted the perimeter, P/Sgt. Leonard moved from position to position to direct the fire of his men against the well-camouflaged foe. Under the cover of the main attack, the enemy moved a machine gun into a location where it could sweep the entire perimeter. This threat was magnified when the platoon machine gun in this area malfunctioned. P/Sgt. Leonard quickly crawled to the gun position and was helping to clear the malfunction when the gunner and other men in the vicinity were wounded by fire from the enemy machine gun. P/Sgt. Leonard rose to his feet, charged the enemy gun, and destroyed the hostile crew despite being hit several times by enemy fire. He moved to a tree, propped himself against it, and continued to engage the enemy until he succumbed to his many wounds. His fighting spirit, heroic leadership, and valiant acts inspired the remaining members of his platoon to hold back the enemy until assistance arrived. P/Sgt. Leonard’s profound courage and devotion to his men are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and his gallant actions reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Sgt.  Donald Russell Long*, Troop C, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Vietnam

June 30, 1966:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Troops B and C, while conducting a reconnaissance mission along a road were suddenly attacked by a Viet Cong regiment, supported by mortars, recoilless rifles, and machine guns from concealed positions astride the road. Sgt. Long abandoned the relative safety of his armored personnel carrier and braved a withering hail of enemy fire to carry wounded men to evacuation helicopters. As the platoon fought its way forward to resupply advanced elements, Sgt. Long repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire at point-blank range to provide the needed supplies. While assaulting the Viet Cong position, Sgt. Long inspired his comrades by fearlessly standing unprotected to repel the enemy with rifle fire and grenades as they attempted to mount his carrier. When the enemy threatened to overrun a disabled carrier nearby, Sgt. Long again disregarded his own safety to help the severely wounded crew to safety. As he was handing arms to the less seriously wounded and reorganizing them to press the attack, an enemy grenade was hurled onto the carrier deck. Immediately recognizing the imminent danger, he instinctively shouted a warning to the crew and pushed to safety one man who had not heard his warning over the roar of battle. Realizing that these actions would not fully protect the exposed crewmen from the deadly explosion, he threw himself over the grenade to absorb the blast and thereby saved the lives of eight of his comrades at the expense of his life. Throughout the battle, Sgt. Long’s extraordinary heroism, courage and supreme devotion to his men were in the finest tradition of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Staff Sgt. (Highest Rank: Sgt. 1st Class) Melvin Morris, Company D, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, Chi Lăng, Vietnam

September 17, 1969: 

“Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Commander of a Strike Force drawn from Company D, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces, during combat operations against an armed enemy in the vicinity of Chi Lang, Republic of Vietnam on September 17, 1969. On that afternoon, Staff Sergeant Morris’ affiliated companies encountered an extensive enemy mine field and were subsequently engaged by a hostile force. Staff Sergeant Morris learned by radio that a fellow team commander had been killed near an enemy bunker and he immediately reorganized his men into an effective assault posture before advancing forward and splitting off with two men to recover the team commander’s body. Observing the maneuver, the hostile force concentrated its fire on Staff Sergeant Morris’ three-man element and successfully wounded both men accompanying him. After assisting the two wounded men back to his forces’ lines, Staff Sergeant Morris charged forward into withering enemy fire with only his men’s suppressive fire as cover. While enemy machine gun emplacements continuously directed strafing fusillades against him, Staff Sergeant Morris destroyed the positions with hand grenades and continued his assault, ultimately eliminating four bunkers. Upon reaching the bunker nearest the fallen team commander, Staff Sergeant Morris repulsed the enemy, retrieved his comrade and began the arduous trek back to friendly lines. He was wounded three times as he struggled forward, but ultimately succeeded in returning his fallen comrade to a friendly position. Staff Sergeant Morris’ extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”

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Army Pvt. First Class Milton L. Olive, III*, 3rd Platoon, Company B, 2D Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, 

Phu Cuong, Vietnam

October 22, 1965: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Pfc. Olive was a member of the 3d Platoon of Company B, as it moved through the jungle to find the Viet Cong operating in the area. Although the platoon was subjected to a heavy volume of enemy gunfire and pinned down temporarily, it retaliated by assaulting the Viet Cong positions, causing the enemy to flee. As the platoon pursued the insurgents, Pfc. Olive and four other soldiers were moving through the jungle together when a grenade was thrown into their midst. Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body. Through his bravery, unhesitating actions, and complete disregard for his safety, he prevented additional loss of life or injury to the members of his platoon. Pfc. Olive’s extraordinary heroism, 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.”

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Army Capt.  Riley L. Pitts*, Company C, 2D Battalion,27th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Ap Dong, Vietnam,

October 31, 1967:

“Distinguishing himself by exceptional heroism while serving as company commander during an airmobile assault. Immediately after his company landed in the area, several Viet Cong opened fire with automatic weapons. Despite the enemy fire, Capt. Pitts forcefully led an assault which overran the enemy positions. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Pitts was ordered to move his unit to the north to reinforce another company heavily engaged against a strong enemy force. As Capt. Pitts’ company moved forward to engage the enemy, intense fire was received from three directions, including fire from four enemy bunkers, two of which were within 15 meters of Capt. Pitts’ position. The severity of the incoming fire prevented Capt. Pitts from maneuvering his company. His rifle fire proving ineffective against the enemy due to the dense jungle foliage, he picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and began pinpointing the targets. Seizing a Chinese Communist grenade which had been taken from a captured Viet Cong’s web gear, Capt. Pitts lobbed the grenade at a bunker to his front, but it hit the dense jungle foliage and rebounded. Without hesitation, Capt. Pitts threw himself on top of the grenade which, fortunately, failed to explode. Capt. Pitts then directed the repositioning of the company to permit friendly artillery to be fired. Upon completion of the artillery fire mission, Capt. Pitts again led his men toward the enemy positions, personally killing at least one more Viet Cong. The jungle growth still prevented effective fire to be placed on the enemy bunkers. Capt. Pitts, displaying complete disregard for his life and personal safety, quickly moved to a position which permitted him to place effective fire on the enemy. He maintained a continuous fire, pinpointing the enemy’s fortified positions, while at the same time directing and urging his men forward, until he was mortally wounded. Capt. Pitts’ conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost 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, his unit, and the Armed Forces of his country.”

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Army Lt. Col. (Highest Rank: Maj. Gen.) Charles Calvin Rogers, 1st Battalion,5th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division,  Fishook region (near the Cambodian border), Vietnam

November 1, 1968:

“Distinguishing himself by exceptional heroism while serving as company commander during an airmobile assault. Immediately after his company landed in the area, several Viet Cong opened fire with automatic weapons. Despite the enemy fire, Capt. Pitts forcefully led an assault which overran the enemy positions. Shortly thereafter, Capt. Pitts was ordered to move his unit to the north to reinforce another company heavily engaged against a strong enemy force. As Capt. Pitts’ company moved forward to engage the enemy, intense fire was received from three directions, including fire from four enemy bunkers, two of which were within 15 meters of Capt. Pitts’ position. The severity of the incoming fire prevented Capt. Pitts from maneuvering his company. His rifle fire proving ineffective against the enemy due to the dense jungle foliage, he picked up an M-79 grenade launcher and began pinpointing the targets. Seizing a Chinese Communist grenade which had been taken from a captured Viet Cong’s web gear, Capt. Pitts lobbed the grenade at a bunker to his front, but it hit the dense jungle foliage and rebounded. Without hesitation, Capt. Pitts threw himself on top of the grenade which, fortunately, failed to explode. Capt. Pitts then directed the repositioning of the company to permit friendly artillery to be fired. Upon completion of the artillery fire mission, Capt. Pitts again led his men toward the enemy positions, personally killing at least one more Viet Cong. The jungle growth still prevented effective fire to be placed on the enemy bunkers. Capt. Pitts, displaying complete disregard for his life and personal safety, quickly moved to a position which permitted him to place effective fire on the enemy. He maintained a continuous fire, pinpointing the enemy’s fortified positions, while at the same time directing and urging his men forward, until he was mortally wounded. Capt. Pitts’ conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism, and intrepidity at the cost 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, his unit, and the Armed Forces of his country.”

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Army 1st Lt.  Ruppert L. Sargent*, Company B, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Hậu Nghĩa Province, Vietnam,

March 15, 1967:

“ For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a platoon of Company B, 1st Lt. Sargent was investigating a reported Viet Cong meetinghouse and weapons cache. A tunnel entrance which 1st Lt. Sargent observed was booby-trapped. He tried to destroy the booby trap and blow the cover from the tunnel using hand grenades, but this attempt was not successful. He and his demolition man moved in to destroy the booby trap and cover which flushed a Viet Cong soldier from the tunnel, who was immediately killed by the nearby platoon sergeant. First Lt. Sargent, the platoon sergeant, and a forward observer moved toward the tunnel entrance. As they approached, another Viet Cong emerged and threw two hand grenades that landed in the midst of the group. First Lt. Sargent fired three shots at the enemy then turned and unhesitatingly threw himself over the two grenades. He was mortally wounded, and his two companions were lightly wounded when the grenades exploded. By his courageous and selfless act of exceptional heroism, he saved the lives of the platoon sergeant and forward observer and prevented the injury or death of several other nearby comrades. First Lt. Sargent’s actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Pvt. 1st Class (Highest Rank: Spc. Fifth Class),  Clarence Sasser

Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3D Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division

January 10, 1968: 

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sp5c. Sasser distinguished himself while assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion. He was serving as a medical aidman with Company A, 3d Battalion, on a reconnaissance-in-force operation. His company was making an air assault when suddenly it was taken under heavy small-arms, recoilless-rifle, machine-gun, and rocket fire from well-fortified enemy positions on three sides of the landing zone. During the first few minutes, over 30 casualties were sustained. Without hesitation, Sp5c. Sasser ran across an open rice paddy through a hail of fire to assist the wounded. After helping one man to safety, he was painfully wounded in the left shoulder by fragments of an exploding rocket. Refusing medical attention, he ran through a barrage of rocket and automatic-weapons fire to aid casualties of the initial attack and, after giving them urgently needed treatment, continued to search for other wounded. Despite two additional wounds immobilizing his legs, he dragged himself through the mud toward another soldier 100 meters away. Although in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood, Sp5c. Sasser reached the man, treated him, and proceeded on to encourage another group of soldiers to crawl 200 meters to relative safety. There he attended their wounds for five hours until they were evacuated. Sp5c. Sasser’s extraordinary heroism is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

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Army Staff Sgt. Clifford Chester Sims*, Company D, 2d Battalion (Airborne)501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Huế, Vietnam,

February 21, 1968:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Sims distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with Company D. Company D was assaulting a heavily fortified enemy position concealed within a dense wooded area when it encountered strong enemy defensive fire. Once within the woodline, S/Sgt. Sims led his squad in a furious attack against an enemy force which had pinned down the 1st Platoon and threatened to overrun it. His skillful leadership provided the platoon with freedom of movement and enabled it to regain the initiative. S/Sgt. Sims was then ordered to move his squad to a position where he could provide covering fire for the company command group and to link up with the 3d Platoon which was under heavy enemy pressure. After moving no more than 30 meters S/Sgt. Sims noticed that a brick structure in which ammunition was stocked was on fire. Realizing the danger, S/Sgt. Sims took immediate action to move his squad from this position. Though in the process of leaving the area two members of his squad were injured by the subsequent explosion of the ammunition, S/Sgt. Sims’ prompt actions undoubtedly prevented more serious casualties from occurring. While continuing through the dense woods amidst heavy enemy fire, S/Sgt. Sims and his squad were approaching a bunker when they heard an unmistakable noise of a concealed booby trap being triggered immediately to their front. S/Sgt. Sims warned his comrades of the danger and unhesitatingly hurled himself upon the device as it exploded, taking the full impact of the blast. In so protecting his fellow soldiers, he willingly sacrificed his life. S/Sgt. Sims’ extraordinary heroism at the cost of his life is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.”

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Army 1st Lt.,  John E. Warren, Jr.*, Company C, 2D Battalion, 22d Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Tây Ninh Province, Vietnam

January 14, 1969:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. 1st Lt. Warren distinguished himself at the cost of his life while serving as a platoon leader with Company C. While moving through a rubber plantation to reinforce another friendly unit, Company C came under intense fire from a well-fortified enemy force. Disregarding his safety, 1st Lt. Warren with several of his men began maneuvering through the hail of enemy fire toward the hostile positions. When he had come to within six feet of one of the enemy bunkers and was preparing to toss a hand grenade into it, an enemy grenade was suddenly thrown into the middle of his small group. Thinking only of his men, 1st Lt. Warren fell in the direction of the grenade, thus shielding those around him from the blast. His action, performed at the cost of his life, saved three men from serious or mortal injury. 1st Lt. Warren’s ultimate action of sacrifice to save the lives of his men was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.”

Post-Vietnam

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Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe*, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, near Samarra, Iraq

October 17, 2005: 

“Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe distinguished himself by acts of gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Platoon Sergeant with Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, on October 17th, 2005. While on a nighttime mounted patrol near an enemy-laden village, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle which Sergeant First Class Cashe was commanding was attacked by enemy small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device, which disabled the vehicle and engulfed it in flames. After extracting himself from the vehicle, Sergeant First Class Cashe set about extracting the driver, who was trapped in the vehicle. After opening the driver’s hatch, Sergeant First Class Cashe and a fellow soldier extracted the driver, who was engulfed in the flames. During the course of extinguishing the flames on the driver and extracting him from the vehicle, Sergeant First Class Cashe’s fuel soaked uniform, ignited and caused severe burns to his body.

Ignoring his painful wounds, Sergeant First Class Cashe then moved to the rear of the vehicle to continue in aiding his fellow soldiers who were trapped in the troop compartment. At this time, the enemy noted his movements and began to direct their fire on his position. When another element of the company engaged the enemy, Sergeant First Class Cashe seized the opportunity and moved into the open troop door and aided four of his soldiers in escaping the burning vehicle. Having extracted the four soldiers, Sergeant First Class Cashe noticed two other soldiers had not been accounted for and again he entered the building to retrieve them. At this time, reinforcements arrived to further suppress the enemy and establish a Casualty Collection Point. Despite the severe second-and third-degree burns covering the majority of his body, Sergeant First Class Cashe persevered through the pain to encourage his fellow soldiers and ensure they received needed medical care. When medical evacuation helicopters began to arrive, Sergeant First Class Cashe selflessly refused evacuation until all of the other wounded soldiers were evacuated first. Sergeant First Class Cashe’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty were keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.”\

Non-Combat

Before World War II, MoHs could be awarded in non-combat situations. Eight African American sailors earned the MoH this way. 

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Navy Ship’s Cook First Class Daniel Atkins , USS Cushing, aboard ship at sea,

February 11, 1898: “On board the U.S.S. Cushing, 11 February 1898. Showing gallant conduct, Atkins attempted to save the life of the late Ens. Joseph C. Breckenridge, U.S. Navy, who fell overboard at sea from that vessel on this date.”

Navy Ordinary Seaman  John DavisUSS Trenton, Toulon, France,

February 1, 1881: “On board the U.S.S. Trenton, Toulon, France, February 1881. Jumping overboard, Davis rescued Augustus Ohlensen, coxswain, from drowning.”

Navy Seaman  Alphonse Girandy, USS Petrel, Cavite, Manila Bay, On Board The U.S.S. Petrel, Luzon, Philippine Islands,

March 31, 1901: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Petrel, for heroism and gallantry, fearlessly exposing his own life to danger for the saving of others, on the occasion of the fire on board that vessel, 31 March 1901.”

Navy Seaman  John Johnson, USS Kansas, near Greytown, Nicaragua

April 12, 1872: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Kansas, near Greytown, Nicaragua, 12 April 1872, Johnson displayed great coolness and self-possession at the time Comdr. A.F. Crosman and others were drowned and, by extraordinary heroism and personal exertion, prevented greater loss of life.”

Navy Cooper  John Johnson, USS Adams, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California

November 14, 1879: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Adams at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Cal., 14 November 1879, Johnson rescued Daniel W. Kloppen, a workman, from drowning.”

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Navy Seaman  Joseph B. Noil, USS Powhatan, Norfolk, Virginia

December 26, 1872: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Powhatan at Norfolk, 26 December 1872, Noil saved Boatswain J.C. Walton from drowning.”

Navy Seaman  John Smith, USS Shenandoah, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

September 19, 1880: “For jumping overboard from the U.S.S. Shenandoah, at Rio de Janeiro, Brazi, 19 September 1880, and rescuing from drowning James Grady, first class fireman.”

Navy Ordinary Seaman  Robert Augustus Sweeney, Awarded MoH Twice

First action: USS Kearsarge Second action: USS Jamestown, 

First action: Hampton Roads, Virginia Second action: Brooklyn Navy Yard

First action: October 26, 1881: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Kearsarge, at Hampton Roads, Va., 26 October 1881, Sweeney jumped overboard and assisted in saving from drowning a shipmate who had fallen overboard into a strongly running tide.”

Second action: December 20, 1883: “Serving on board the U.S.S. Yantic, at the Navy Yard, New York, 20 December 1883, Sweeney rescued from drowning A.A. George, who had fallen overboard from the U.S.S. Jamestown.”

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