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Medal of Honor questions

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Byron Quick, Apr 12, 2008.

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  1. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam

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    I've been perusing this Medal of Honor website http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html and a few questions have come to my mind.

    It seems the military is tightening up on giving the medal for one thing. One in Afghanistan and three in Iraq after five years of war? And you've got to go all the way back to Vietnam to find a recipient who survived.

    Also, the Medal of Honor was sometimes given during peacetime for non-combat heroism up until 1940. What changed?
     
  2. coondawg47

    coondawg47 Member

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    From my understanding the Navy gave the medal during peacetime for extreme acts of heroism at sea. The Army never gave the Medal during peacetime. I don't remember exactly why they changed (some kind of review). There are also some double winners of the Medal, all WWI or before.
     
  3. siglite

    siglite Member

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    Dan Daley and Smedley Butler. Hoorah!
     
  4. buck00

    buck00 Member

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    Off the top of my head, I can tell you they used to give out the Medal of Honor pretty casually in the 19th and early 20th century.

    http://www.history.army.mil/moh.html

    A few examples:

    He captured a flag. Awesome- this was a HUGE deal back then, but what do we really know about it? Was his guts hanging out? Did he dive on a grenade to save his comrades? I'm not trying to single out Bras here, but it makes you think.

    Another:

    I noticed many of these where men got the Medal of Honor for either capturing a flag or volunteering for a storming party.

    I am not trying to take anything away from these soldiers who fought bravely, its just you notice the sacrifices got more intense as time went on. The ante was raised by WWI, and I know they even demanded some people give up their medals (including a woman spy, Ann Walker).

    However, at the same time General MacArthur got a Medal of Honor, which many today would question. This was like Stalin and some of the Soviet generals showering themselves with medals, while the 18 year olds were the ones fighting and dying. :uhoh:


    By Vietnam you had to do more than volunteer for a storming party. You had to do something above and beyond, save others, keep fighting while badly wounded, etc, to even be considered. (see below)

    Today, it is even more difficult to earn, which makes the honor that much higher. I think this is the way it should be.


     
  5. siglite

    siglite Member

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    I've read a lot of those citations. I think the citations got a lot more detailed later. Some of the earlier (civil war) ones are very brief, and may not include all the details like the modern ones do. For example, Custer (George's younger brother) was shot in the face and still got the confederate flag, AND returned it to the union side. And after that, George had to have him arrested to keep him from getting back into the fight. Custer's lil bro was a serious hard-charger.
     
  6. Gunnerpalace

    Gunnerpalace Member

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    Read about Charles Kelly, awesome story for action, I mostly remember it because he was using 84mm mortar rounds as grenades.

    For Heroism I mostly remember Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon, but Paul Smith comes to mind as well.
     
  7. Baba Louie

    Baba Louie Member

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    Sgts Randy Shugart and Gary Gordon, post Vietnam, pre this WOT action... hard chargers who knew what they were getting into and went anyway.

    Valor beyond the call.
     
  8. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    I hate reading MOH citations. I can never get to the end of one without my vision being too blurry from tears to continue reading.
    -
     
  9. Treo

    Treo member

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    If I remember right Boyington got one for his "aggressive leadership style" while commanding the 214th. He apparently didn't think too much of the medal , merited 2 paragraphs in his book.

    EDITED TO ADD
    I went back and checked the citation and I was wrong about what Boyington was given the medal for ( Citation below)

    I do, however, stand behind the comment that he wasn't all that impressed W/ the medal. In his book he calls it a "booby prize" and states that it was gathering dust on a shelf in his garage.

    Citation
    or extraordinary heroism and valiant devotion to duty as commanding officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 214 in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Central Solomons area from 12 September 1943 to 3 January 1944. Consistently outnumbered throughout successive hazardous flights over heavily defended hostile territory, Maj. Boyington struck at the enemy with daring and courageous persistence, leading his squadron into combat with devastating results to Japanese shipping, shore installations, and aerial forces. Resolute in his effortso inflict crippling damage on the enemy, Maj. Boyington led a formation of 24 fighters over Kahili on 17 October and, persistently circling the airdrome where 60 hostile aircraft were grounded, boldly challenged the Japanese to send up planes. Under his brilliant command, our fighters shot down 20 enemy craft in the ensuing action without the loss of a single ship. A superb airman and determined fighter against overwhelming odds, Maj. Boyington personally destroyed 26 of the many Japanese planes shot down by his squadron and, by his forceful leadership, developed the combat readiness in his command which was a distinctive factor in the Allied aerial achievements in this vitally strategic area.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  10. scrat

    scrat Member

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    Sad part about the MOH is that most guys that got them were KIA
     
  11. Byron Quick

    Byron Quick Moderator In Memoriam

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    It was given for things in the Civil War that it would not be given for today.

    However, you're mistaken about the gallantry involved in capturing an enemy flag at that time. Both sides took the protection of their flags and banners darned seriously. Think about how closely packed their formations were. Then think about entering one of those formations to capture their colors while the entire unit tries to kill you to prevent that capture.

    Also, the other soldier did not receive the Medal of Honor for volunteering for a storming party. He received the medal for "gallantry in the charge of the volunteer storming party." There's a big difference even though the citation does not go into the specifics of the gallantry mentioned.
     
  12. catfish101

    catfish101 Member

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    In the days of the American revolution and the Civil war the Standards or Guidons were very important to the units. They were like drummer boys. They were used to make several signals to the units men.
     
  13. CWL

    CWL Member

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    Standards were very important.

    The "colors" represented the life of the unit. Troops needed to be able to see it and rally around otherwise the unit would lose cohesion and very-likely rout in the face of battle. There was real battlefield value to capturing the flags of enemies.

    Because a standard represented the "life" of the unit, loss of the flag was considered so dishonorable that units which lost their banner during battle would often be disbanded and all records of the unit erased.

    This goes all the way back to Roman times and their eagles. Soldiers owed their allegiance more to the unit than the nation.
     
  14. RNB65

    RNB65 Member

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    No surprise. Pappy wasn't exactly a traditionalist.
    -
     
  15. wideym

    wideym Member

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    The lack of MOH recipents in the GWOT is not as disturbing to me as much as the amount of Bronze Stars which are casually handed out as administrative awards.

    As a young man, when I saw a Bronze Star on a uniform it was always for valor under fire. Nowadays officers and senior NCOs are awarded it for having their paperwork done on time and not getting the clap.
     
  16. Kind of Blued

    Kind of Blued Member

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    Haha. Wow.

    A blatantly non-gun-related thread.

    Started by a moderator.

    ;)
     
  17. The Wiry Irishman

    The Wiry Irishman Member

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    I'll have to remember to take a picture of the Medal of Honor (or Medal of Honor replica) that's on display in the Purdue armory. A Purdue alum got it posthumously in WWII. What he did to get it was amazing.
     
  18. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    I read in a book about the MoH once that the Civil War awardings of the MoH were fundamentally different then how the medal was later viewed.

    From what I recall, there wasn't the whole system of DSC, Silver Star, Bronze Star, etc, back then and, because there weren't these other awards, the MoH was given as an award for bravery for things that today we'd equate with a Bronze or Silver Star or DSC.

    (Not in all cases, btw, as there were obviously some Civil War awards that still would have been MoH level in WWII, etc.)
     
  19. Kaeto

    Kaeto Member

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    The first Medals of Honor were given out during the Civil War to a group of raiders who went way behind Confederate lines (In disguise) into Ga. and stole a train.

    When they boarded the train to swipe it, it was sitting right next to a Confederate Military encampment.

    The Engine of this train can still be seen in Ga.

    I'd say they sure earned their MoH's
     
  20. snowtigger

    snowtigger Member

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    I've met Drew Dix, he was a friend of my Dad's. To me, he was just an ordinary guy. Your typical Viet Nam vet. He flew airplanes and belonged to the local Amercan Leigon and VFW.
    It was only several years after my Dad died that I found out he was a true hero. There was an article in the local paper about him being honored by a statue of him in Pueblo, Colorado.
    Here is the citation...http://www.sfalx.com/moh/dix_drew_SF.htm
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  21. Vermont

    Vermont Member

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    There is a video (actually 7 videos) on youtube that talks (in part) about a similar phenomenon with the Victoria Cross.

    Here's part 1

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=LufdzZIPPHQ


    I may have actually found this video here originally when someone else linked to it, but I can't remember.
     
  22. qwert65

    qwert65 Member

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    You have to note that for a long time the MoH was the only decoration we had, also in the begining officers were ineligible.
    During the Civil War sometimes units were given for reenlisting or participating in parades as well as for valor. During WW1 the only decorations were a certificate(equated to a silver star) and the MOH then we got medal happy. The MOH was for combat only after the soilder/navy medal was established for heroism not in combat. in the1930s
    The bronze star has always been given for non-combat as well as combat thats what the V device on the medal is for to denote those who earned it in combat.

    Personally I think it's good that they tightned the requirments. Though in my opinion except for that award they've loosened them considerably Look at bush giving whole divisons the presidential citation. also I always thought the POW medal was kinda weird decorating someone who surrendered
     
  23. 45Badger

    45Badger Member

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    Tightening of standards may reflect improved insight, better communications, better information. At home, we can see almost anything that happens in Iraq within minutes via internet. During Vietnam, we got footage on the evening news. During WW2, we got news reels/movies. I suspect that the quantity and quality of information available to the military and review boards is also greatly improved.

    There are also far fewer casualties in these modern conflicts. With no large scale conflicts (Battle of the Bulge, Tet offensive) that typically screw up information and communication, it is probably a bit easier to determine what happened, and record it in after-action reporting.
     
  24. doc2rn

    doc2rn Member

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    The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award that even the Brass must salute. That is why so few are handed out, and why it means so much to get one. After you get one you are like a Chief Warrant Officer on steroids.
     
  25. rero360

    rero360 Member

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    wideym: I hear you man, we had senior NCOs who sole purpose was to monitor the radio in the company HQ, others who did even less and get the Bronze star, yet many of us who actually went out on missions couldn't get our CABs, it seemed if you were going to get your CAB you also were going to get your purple heart. and a good number of those who got their bronzes had refused to leave the wire, who were initially squad leaders but were to scared to leave the wire, who froze on their first missions, who pissed their pants on patrol. But I'm glad to say that none of them were from my home unit, all but two from a small little island south of florida.

    I got shot at on numerous occasions, my buddy has shrapnel in his helmet, no CAB. When our barracks got hit with a 81mm mortar round, the only people who got put in for it were the ones who took shrapnel, most of them had already recieved the awards from previous injuries. With what we went thru, everyone in the company should have had their CABs, 570 rounds of indirect over the course of a year, if you were to go by the regulations.
     
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