14 things you didn’t know about the Medal of Honor

Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha addresses the audience as he is recognized for receiving the Medal of Honor at the Pentagon, Feb. 11, 2013. (DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett)

1 –Most people think the award is called the Congressional Medal of Honor, most likely because it is always given by the President of the United States, “in the name of Congress.” But the official name is simply Medal of Honor.

Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha addresses the audience as he is recognized for receiving the Medal of Honor at the Pentagon, Feb. 11, 2013. (DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett)
Former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha addresses the audience as he is recognized for receiving the Medal of Honor at the Pentagon, Feb. 11, 2013. (DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett)

2 –There are three different versions of the Medal of Honor: one for the Army, one for the Navy, and one for the Air Force.

The Medals of Honor awarded by each of the three branches of the U.S. military, and are, from left to right, the Army, Navy and Air Force.
The Medals of Honor awarded by each of the three branches of the U.S. military, and are, from left to right, the Army, Navy and Air Force.

3- Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman who’s ever been awarded the Medal of Honor. Walker served as a Union Army surgeon, during the Civil War.

Mary Edwards Walker (November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919) As of 2015, she is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. National Library of Medicine)
Mary Edwards Walker (November 26, 1832 – February 21, 1919) As of 2015, she is the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor. (U.S. National Library of Medicine)

4-Only one U.S. President – Teddy Roosevelt — has ever been awarded the Medal of Honor. Roosevelt quit his job as Secretary of the Navy to lead a volunteer regiment, known as the Rough Riders, during the Spanish-American War.

Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, in rough rider uniform, full-length portrait, standing and facing slightly left. 1898. (Library of Congress/ George Gardner Rockwood)
Colonel Theodore Roosevelt, in rough rider uniform, full-length portrait, standing and facing slightly left. 1898. (Library of Congress/
George Gardner Rockwood)

5 – Nearly 3,500 different people have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Unbelievably, 19 men have been awarded the honor twice.

More than 70 Medal of Honor recipients pose for a group photo in front of the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, at Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, on September 30, 2006. The group were onboard the ship for a Medal of Honor flag presentation. The Medal of Honor is our country's highest military honor, awarded for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. (United States Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)
More than 70 Medal of Honor recipients pose for a group photo in front of the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, at Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, on September 30, 2006. The group were onboard the ship for a Medal of Honor flag presentation. The Medal of Honor is our country’s highest military honor, awarded for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. (United States Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

6-Willie Johnston is the youngest recipient ever to receive the Honor. He earned it at age 11, while serving in the Union Army, alongside his father, as a drummer boy. Willie never let go of his drum, during the “Seven Days Retreat,” while others in his unit shed their weapons and instruments, in order to flee faster. Willie later played for the entire division on July 4th.

he Berkeley Plantation plaque honoring Willie Johnson, youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor. (Elaine Powell)
he Berkeley Plantation plaque honoring Willie Johnson, youngest recipient of the Medal of Honor. (Elaine Powell)

7-Jacklyn “Jack” Lucas, is the youngest Marine to have ever received the Medal of Honor. Lucas lied his way into the armed forces, during World War II, at the age of 14. At 17, he shielded several of his fellow soldiers from enemy grenades, during Iwo Jima.

 PFC Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMC, Medal of Honor recipient for heroic actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima. (USMC)
PFC Jacklyn H. Lucas, USMC, Medal of Honor recipient for heroic actions at the Battle of Iwo Jima. (USMC)

8-There are two father-son pairs that have won the Medal of Honor. Arthur MacArthur, Jr. and his son, General Douglas MacArthur were the first father and son to both be awarded Medals of Honor. The only others were President Teddy Roosevelt and his son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., who led the first wave of troops onto Utah Beach during the Normandy Landings of World War II.

Civil War general Arthur MacArthur, father of General Douglas MacArthur. (Left) General Douglas MacArthur surveys the beachhead on Leyte Island, soon after American forces swept ashore from a gigantic liberation armada into the central Philippines, at the historic moment when the General made good his promise `I shall return.'" 1944. (Right)
Civil War general Arthur MacArthur, father of General Douglas MacArthur. (Left) General Douglas MacArthur surveys the beachhead on Leyte Island, soon after American forces swept ashore from a gigantic liberation armada into the central Philippines, at the historic moment when the General made good his promise `I shall return.'” 1944. (Right) Image sourced from wiki commons.
General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in combat fatigues (U.S. Military)
General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. in combat fatigues (U.S. Military)

9-There are also five pairs of brothers that have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Most of them fought during the Civil War. Antoine and Julien Gaujot have the unique distinction of receiving their awards for their actions in separate conflicts; Antoine for the Philippine-American War, Julien for crossing the border to rescue both Mexicans and Americans, during the Mexican Revolution.

Both Gaujot's names are listed on the Medal of Honor stone at the War Memorial, at Virginia Tech. (Wiki commons)
Both Gaujot’s names are listed on the Medal of Honor stone at the War Memorial, at Virginia Tech. (Wiki commons)

10-Following a 1993 investigation into possible racial discrimination in the awarding of the Medal of Honor, a group of Distinguished Service Cross recipients were upgraded to the higher honor.

1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in World War II. This award was upgraded to a Medal of Honor after his death in 1997. (U.S. Army)
1st Lt. Charles L. Thomas received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in World War II. This award was upgraded to a Medal of Honor after his death in 1997. (U.S. Army)

11-More than half of all Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously.

United States Army Sergeant John N. Holcomb, posthumous Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War. Author Unknown.
United States Army Sergeant John N. Holcomb, posthumous Medal of Honor recipient for his actions in the Vietnam War. Author Unknown.

12-When you get a medal of honor, you earn a lifetime of special benefits and privileges. For example, if you were not previously eligible for burial in Arlington cemetery you are now.

Arlington National Cemetary. Author: Andrew Bossi.
Arlington National Cemetary. Author: Andrew Bossi.

13-Medal of honor recipients also receive invitations to all future presidential inaugurations and inaugural balls.

United States President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama dance at the 2013 presidential inaugural ball on 21 January 2013. (Barak Obama/Twitter)
United States President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama dance at the 2013 presidential inaugural ball on 21 January 2013. (Barak Obama/Twitter)

14-As of 2002, in addition to the actual Medal of Honor, recipients also get a special Medal of Honor flag.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta presents former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha with the Medal of Honor Flag at the Pentagon, Feb. 12, 2013.DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta presents former Army Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha with the Medal of Honor Flag at the Pentagon, Feb. 12, 2013.DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett.
New Medal of Honor flag display at the funeral of LTC Jay Zeamer USAF for the first time. Photo by Air Force photograph. (Arlington Cemetery Staff)
New Medal of Honor flag display at the funeral of LTC Jay Zeamer USAF for the first time. Photo by Air Force photograph. (Arlington Cemetery Staff)

This article originally appeared on Popular Military on July 17, 2015

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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