Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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The Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor

The Navy and Marine Corps' Medal of Honor is our country's oldest continuously awarded decoration, even though its appearance and award criteria has changed since it was created for enlisted men by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles on 16 December 1861. Legislation in 1915 made naval officers eligible for the award.

Although originally awarded for both combat and non-combat heroism, the Medal of Honor today is presented for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.

The design of our highest military decoration is rooted in the Civil War. The central motif is an allegory in which Columbia, in the form of the goddess Minerva uses the shield of the republic to put down the figure of Discord, plainly a reference to the unfolding split in our nation. The design is encircled by 34 stars, representing the states of the Union at the time of the outbreak of the Civil War.

The Curator Branch of NHHC holds several Medals of Honor in its collections. Visit the Curator page for information on artifact documentation, preservation, and loans. 

Medal of Honor Recipients

The following pages list Medal of Honor recipients by time period and conflict; in some cases, citations are also provided.

Global War on Terrorism

For more information on recipients from all services, please consult the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.

Published: Fri Oct 19 12:16:07 EDT 2018