cover image

Medal of Honor

Highest award in the United States Armed Forces / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about Medal of Honor?

Summarize this article for a 10 year old


The Medal of Honor (MOH) is the United States Armed Forces' highest military decoration and is awarded to recognize American soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, guardians, and coast guardsmen who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor.[1][12] The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States (the commander in chief of the armed forces) and is presented "in the name of the United States Congress."

Quick facts: Medal of Honor, Type, Awarded for, Presented ...
Medal of Honor
Medals of honor of the three military departments
TypeMilitary medal with neck ribbon
Awarded forConspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty[1][2][lower-alpha 1]
Presented byThe president of the United States in the name of the United States Congress[3]
EligibilityUnited States Armed Forces service members
StatusCurrently awarded
EstablishedNaval Service: December 21, 1861[4]
Army: July 12, 1862[5]
Air Force: August 10, 1956[6]
Coast Guard: July 25, 1963[7]
Space Force: January 1, 2021[8]
First awardedMarch 25, 1863[lower-alpha 2]
Last awardedSeptember 5, 2023[9]
Total awarded posthumously618[10]
Total recipients3,525[11]

Next (lower)Army: Distinguished Service Cross
Naval Service: Navy Cross
Air and Space Forces: Air Force Cross
Coast Guard: Coast Guard Cross

It is sometimes referred to as the "Congressional Medal of Honor".[2][13][14][15] The secretary of the Army, on behalf of the Department of Defense, has testified to Congress that the term "Congressional Medal of Honor" is "incorrect" as a matter of statute, and that "it seems inappropriate to modify the name of the medal with the word 'Congressional' as each award is made in the name of the Congress," through a mandated process in the military chain of command, not 'by' Congress,[lower-alpha 3] and there is no other Medal of Honor, so no need for the modifier.[16] The U.S. Senate also lists the award without the "congressional" modifier, suggesting that both the executive and at least this branch of the legislature agree on this point.[17]

There are three distinct variants of the medal: one for the Army, awarded to soldiers; one for the Naval Service, awarded to sailors, marines, and coast guardsmen; and one for the Air and Space Forces, awarded to airmen and guardians.[1][18] The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Naval Service in 1861,[19] soon followed by the Army's version in 1862.[20] The Air Force used the Army's version until they received their own distinctive version in 1965.[21] The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States Armed Forces.[22] The President typically presents the Medal of Honor at a formal ceremony intended to represent the gratitude of the American people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin.[23][24][25]

According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3,535 Medals of Honor awarded since the decoration's creation, with over 40% awarded for actions during the American Civil War.[11] Notably, however, 911 Army medals were revoked after Congress authorized a review in 1917, and a number of Navy medals were also revoked prior to the turn of the century—none of these are included in this total except for those that were subsequently restored.[26] In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day".[27]

Oops something went wrong: