The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The origin of this decoration goes back to the Civil War. Before that time, medals and decorations were considered to be too like the titles and awards given in England, and fighting for ones country was considered a duty. It soon became clear that there were those who were believed to have gone "above and beyond" this call, and on December 21, 1861, the chairman of the Senate Naval Committee, Senator James W. Grimes, introduced a bill to promote the efficiency of the Navy. Navy Secretary Gideon Wells was looking for a way to inspire sailors to improve their work. This bill was approved by President Abraham Lincoln which provided for the preparation of 200 Medals of Honor to be awarded upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen, and marines as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamen like qualities during the present war. Thus the Medal of Honor was created.
USA: Assistant Surgeon Bernard Irwin is
credited with the earliest MOH action (13-14 Feb 1861), but Jacob
Parrott was the first man to actually receive the Army Medal of
Honor. Parrotts medal was given for actions during
"The Great Locomotive Chase" in April 1862 and was
presented on March 25, 1863.
USN: The first Navy Medal of Honor
action was performed by John Williams on June 26, 1861, although
Robert Williams was the first to be presented the actual medal.
USAF: Although it had been a separate
service since 1947, Air Force Medal of Honor recipients during
the Korean War still received the Army Medal of Honor for their
actions. The actual Air Force Medal was adopted in 1965, and was
first awarded to Bernard Francis Fisher on January 19, 1967 for
his action in Vietnam on March 9, 1966.
USMC: The first Marine Corps action and
presentation is credited to John Mackie during the Civil War.
USCG: Only one Medal has been awarded to a Coast Guard member, Douglas Munro, who served in World War II.
There has been 1 woman to recieve the Medal, Dr. Mary Walker. While assigned as an Asst. Surgeon during the Civil War. Her Medal was recinded in 1916 when the Army purged it's files to cut down on what they thought were "unwarranted" issues. It was re-instated in 1976.
As of now, 2,363 Medals have been awarded to the Army, 745 to the Navy, 295 to Marines, 16 to the Air Force, 1 to the Coast Guard, and 9 Unknowns. There have been 3,410 total recipients and 3,429 total Medals awarded. Of those, nineteen (19) have received the Medal of Honor twice. As of August 1, 1998, there are 162 living recipients.
Brown, Henry L...Jamestown
Buchanon, George...Ontario County
Young, James...Chautaugua County
Citations for above MOH winners