Medal of Honor

Description (Army)

The Army Medal of Honor is a gold star 1 3/8 inches wide surrounded by a green lauren wreath. The star has five points, each tipped with trefoils and is suspended from gold bar bearing the inscription "VALOR", surrmounted by an eagle. Minerva's head surrounded by the words "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" is in the center of the star. Centered on each ray of the star is a green oak leaf. The reverse side of the cross has a bar engraved "THE CONGRESS TO" and a space is available for the recipient's name.

Description (Navy/USMC/Coast guard)

The current Navy Medal of Honor is a bronze star with five points, each tipped with trefoils and centered with a crown of laurel and oak. Within the crown standing with left hand resting of fasces and a shield blazoned with the shield from the coat of arms of the United States in the right hand is Minerva, a personification of the United States. She is repulsing Discord, which is represented by snakes. The medal is suspended from the flukes of an anchor.

Description (Air Force)

The Air Force Medal of Honor is a gold five-pointed star, one point down, inside a wreath of green laurel. Each point is tipped with trefoils and includes within the background a crown of laurel and oak. An annulet of 34 stars, representing the head of the Statue of Liberty is centered on the star. The star is suspended from a bar and bares the inscription "VALOR" above a rendering of the United States Air Force Coat of Arms thunderbolt.


The Medal of Honor is suspended by a neck ribbon 1 3/8 inches wide, Bluebird color. Above the medal is a shield of bluebird ribbon with thirteen white stars arranged in the form of three chevrons. The service ribbon contains five stars arranged in the form of an "M" and is 1 3/8 inches wide.


The President, in the name of Congress, awards the Medal of Honor to the individual who, while as an active member of the Army, distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously, at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty, by courage and intrepidity. The act justifying award of the medal must be performed while fighting an enemy of the United States, or while involved in conflict with an opposing/foreign force or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in combat against an opposing military in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The act or acts of heroism must have required a risk of life and the individual have displayed personal bravery or self-sacrifice so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades. Incontestable proof of the act will be required and each recommendation for the Medal of Honor is considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.


From left to right, 1862 design, 1896 design, and 1904 design.

The Badge of Military Merit was created by General George Washington on 7 August 1792. After the Revolutionary War, the American people had little or no use for decorations, as such, as they appeared to relate to European royalty to closely, and the Badge fell into disuse. However, the Civil War with its severe fighting and deeds of valor revealed the need for such valor to be recognized. An authorization for the medal for the Army was introduced into Legislation in the Senate on 17 February 1862. This gave the Army authorization for the medal and followed a pattern of an award approved for Naval persons in December 1861. It was Resolved that: "The President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause two thousand "medals of honor" to be prepared with suitable emblematic devices, and to direct that the same be presented, in the name of Congress, to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection, and the sum of ten thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, for the purpose of carrying this resolution into effect." Christian Schussel created the original design identical to the design approved by the Navy, with the exception of the laurel and oak. Anthony C. Pacquot engraved the Medal. The Medal had a star with five points, each tipped with trefoils and centered with a crown of laurel and oak. There was a band of 34 stars representing the number of States in 1862 in the middle. Minerva, personifying the United States, stands with a left hand resting on fasces and right hand holding a shield blazoned with the arms of the United States.

History (Continued)

An Act of Congress amended the initial law on 3 March 1863 to extend the provisions of the law to include officers. Misuse by non-military organizations in imitating the ribbon led to a Joint Resolution of Congress, Fifty-Fourth Congress, Sess. I, 2 May 1896 authorizing a change in the design of the ribbon. A bowknot (rosette) was adopted to be worn in place of the medal. The ribbon and bowknot (rosette), legally recognized and prescribed by the President, was communicated in War Department Orders dated 10 November 1896. The design for the current medal was designed by Major General George L. Gillespie and authorized by Congress, 23 April 1904. The medal was worn in precedence to all other military decorations hanging from the neck or pinned over the left breast. In 1944, the current neck ribbon was adopted. It is to be worn outside of the shirt collar and inside the coat, above all other decorations.

Special Entitlements

(1) Each Medal of Honor awardee may have his name entered on the Medal of Honor Roll ( 38 USC 560 ) thereby qualifying with the Department of Veterans Affairs as having the right to receive a special pension of $400 per month. GUIDE NOTE: The 2008 MOH pension rate is $1,129 per month.

(2) Enlisted Medal of Honor personnel are entitled to a supplemental uniform allowance.

(3) DOD Regulation 4515.13-R provides special rights to air transportation.

(4) Identification card, commissary and exchange privileges for Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible dependents.

(5) Children of recipients are entitled for admission to the U.S. Service Academies without consideration as to the quota requirements.

(6) Title 10, USC 3991, provides for a 10% increase in retired pay.