The Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH) is this nation’s highest and most distinguished military award given for valor. The MOH has been awarded 3,468 times since its genesis during the civil war era. It was accorded over 1,500 times for valor in that war alone.
For valor in our nation’s latest and longest wars, Afghanistan and Iraq, the Medal of Honor has been awarded only six times and all of them were posthumously. Several living troops are being considered for the award but no decisions have yet been made.
There are worrisome scuttlebutt whispers that some of the criteria for receiving the MOH have been changed including – “valor” must result in death. It is doubtful that the whispers are true but, based on fact that all Medal of Honors awarded since the Vietnam war have been awarded posthumously, along with the scrutiny of the other valor award citations like the Silver Star, it sure appears to be leaning that way.
The pentagon is dissecting the standards and procedures used on submitted MOH recommendations and should have their findings to Congress, the military and public by the end of July 2010, this month.
While the standards and criteria for the award may need changing, it should be left up to the pentagon officials to decide what they will be. The majority of the American people believe Congress should not set any standards for such an award. The MOH is too important for the Congress to foul it up and that is exactly what they would do.
To quote Lt. Col. Mike Moose, spokesman for Army Human Resources Command, “As the nation’s highest military honor the scrutiny at all levels is, and should be, intense.”
The U.S. military recently sent a recommendation to the White House for an award of the Medal of Honor to a living Army soldier. Since the soldier is still under consideration, the military has declined to reveal his name.
Could this soldier end up being the first living troop to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and in so doing, become the youngest living MOH recipient? Interesting thought. We shall see.
Presently, the youngest recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor is Army Colonel Gordon Roberts. Born on 14 June 1950, He is closing in on his 60th birthday and living in a small town south of Raleigh, North Carolina. He continues to serve his country.
Following are the six MOH’s awarded posthumously since the Vietnam War:
MONTI, JARED C. Sergeant First Class, United States Army.
“Staff Sergeant Monti was serving as a team leader with the Headquarters and Headquarters troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on June 21st, 2006. While Staff Sergeant Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Staff Sergeant Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation. He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Staff Sergeant Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Staff Sergeant Monti then realized that one of his soldiers was lying wounded in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol’s position…Staff Sergeant Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his soldier, Staff Sergeant Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded.” Source: Official Citation.
MURPHY, MICHAEL P. Lieutenant, United States Navy
“As the leader of a special reconnaissance element with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit Afghanistan on 27 and 28 June 2005. While leading a mission to locate a high-level anti-coalition militia leader in the vicinity of Asadabad, Konar Province, Afghanistan, on 28 June 2005… and operating in an extremely rugged enemy-controlled area, Lieutenant Murphy’s team was discovered by anti-coalition militia sympathizers, who revealed their position to Taliban fighters. As a result, between 30 and 40 enemy fighters besieged his four-member team. Lieutenant Murphy valiantly led his men in engaging the large enemy force. The ensuing fierce firefight resulted in numerous enemy casualties, as well as the wounding of all four members of the team. Ignoring his own wounds and demonstrating exceptional composure, Lieutenant Murphy continued to lead and encourage his men. When the primary communicator fell mortally wounded, Lieutenant Murphy repeatedly attempted to call for assistance for his beleaguered teammates. Realizing the impossibility of communicating in the extreme terrain, and in the face of almost certain death, he fought his way into open terrain to gain a better position to transmit a call. This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire. Finally achieving contact with his Headquarters, Lieutenant Murphy maintained his exposed position while he provided his location and requested immediate support for his team. In his final act of bravery, he continued to engage the enemy until he was mortally wounded.” Source: Official Citation.
DUNHAM, JASON L. Corporal, United States Marine Corps
“While serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines.” Source: Official Citation.
McGINNIS, ROSS A. Private First Class, United States Army
“While serving as an M2 .50-caliber Machine Gunner, 1st Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Adhamiyah, Northeast Baghdad, Iraq, on 4 December 2006, PFC McGinnis and his platoon was conducting combat control operations in an effort to reduce and control sectarian violence in the area. While Private McGinnis was manning the M2 .50-caliber Machine Gun, a fragmentation grenade thrown by an insurgent fell through the gunner’s hatch into the vehicle. Reacting quickly, he yelled “grenade,” allowing all four members of his crew to prepare for the grenade’s blast. Then, rather than leaping from the gunner’s hatch to safety, Private McGinnis made the courageous decision to protect his crew. In a selfless act of bravery, in which he was mortally wounded, Private McGinnis covered the live grenade, pinning it between his body and the vehicle and absorbing most of the explosion. Private McGinnis’ gallant action directly saved four men from certain serious injury or death.” Source: Official Citation.
SMITH, PAUL R. Sergeant First Class, United States Army
“In action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.” Source: Official Citation.
MONSOOR, MICHAEL, A. Master-At-Arms Second Class (Sea, Air And Land), United States Navy
“As automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates.” Source: Official citation
War is not a pretty thing. War is a man made thing to hate, but we must love and respect our Heroes of Heroes! If you see a person in uniform, please stop long enough to thank them.
Let’s take a minute and thank God that we have troops, such as these, that are willing to lay down their very lives for their fellow countrymen, for our freedom, for their nation. Amen!
TO ANYONE CONCERNED:
We are a Christian nation under God and that is never going to change. Period.
Sources: www.Military.com; Stars and Stripes www.stripes.com; Army Times www.armytimes.com