Encyclopedia - Medal of Honor

U.S. Army Medal of Honor Just as the Victoria Cross is Britain's highest military medal, so the Medal of Honor is America's highest-ranking combat award.

Instituted in December 1861 as an award for enlisted men during the U.S. Civil War the medal - often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor - uses different patterns depending upon whether it was issued by the Army, Navy or Air Force.

Awarded by the U.S. President on behalf of Congress for actions above and beyond the call of duty while under enemy fire - 'without detriment to the mission' - the medal was first awarded by the U.S. Army on 25 March 1863 (after Congress authorised it as a permanent decoration the same year).  To the present date over 3,400+ medals have been issued.

Aside from a monetary award recipients of the medal were also automatically given the right to a burial at Arlington National Cemetery.

During World War I 124 medals were issued: 96 by the Army, 21 by the Navy and 7 by the Marines.  The Medal of Honor was not issued lightly and only after extensive investigation into the worthiness of the proposed recipient.  Thus clear proof of the given deed needed to be available.

Controversially the so-called 'Purge of 1917' saw some 911 individual's medals revoked by a Medal of Honor Review Board, many dating back to the era of President Lincoln.  A number of these were subsequently reinstated by later Presidents.

A Town Major was a staff officer responsible for billeting arrangements in a town or village behind the lines.

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