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Can anyone provide a comprehensive break down of the US awards system? How are they awarded ? Who decides? For instance inorder to be recommended for the British Victoria Cross you have to have had a 90% to 100% of dying.
I would also like to find out the facts behind the Purple Heart.

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I know that most people call it the " Congressional Medal of Honour ". But trhat is incorrect as I believe that the President awards it and Congress only approves it.

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Guest John Sukey

The conditions today are about the same as for the Victoria cross. Of course someone has to see you do it.

Not always so. when first instituted, it was the only medal we had. 800 members of a Maine regiment were awarded it for reenlisting during the civil war! They never got them as the col. did'nt think they deserved the medal, so he took them home and buried them. Never have been found. One woman was awarded the medal, a doctor who tended the wounded on the battlefield while the fight was in progress. When congress tried to take it back years later, she told them to stuff it! They finaly relented and let her keep it and only much later did they admit she earned it.

There is a website (if its still good) for Indian wars medals of honour
www.gordon.army.mil/museum/moh/mohind.htm

They have a list by wars, but this is the only one I have at hand.

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Guest John Sukey

No, congress DOES NOT have to vote it in. The medal is awarded by the President in the name of Congress, so it is properly called the Medal of Honor. Common usage has tacked on the Congressional part.

The conditions are about the same as other decorations for valour.
somebody has to see you do it, preferrably an officer.
The papers are filed at unit level, and sent up the line for approval. Sometimes the award is downgraded to the next level.

Like the VC, you damm near have to die to get it or actualy die performing the deed. The action has to be very far above what is normaly expected of a soldier.

Some folks have said that too many were awarded in the Civil War and for that matter many were revoked after WW1 when the rolls were reviewed. At times the medal was given for taking the enemies colours in the civil war. One has to look at the conditions of the time. The colour bearer was the target of just about everyone as the success or failure of the unit often depended on how they were advanced. By the same token, the other side wanted to keep their colours as it was considered a disgrace to lose them, same as a British regiment during the same time period.

As for other awards,ie; efficiency medals, campaign medals, that is determined by the soldiers records.

Edited by John Sukey
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Guest John Sukey

A bit more. The medal of honor is the only U.S. medal for which there is NO miniature. So on mess dress you would wear it suspended from the neck ribbon and the other awards would be worn in miniature on the jacket. It is also the ONLY medal that is ILLEGAL to sell or trade. Obviously collectors do have them as the recipients pass away. The way that is gotten around is to sell a lesser award for the price of the medal of honor and give away the higher award. It doesn't happen very often. Usualy to medals that are very old.

Another note. There are different medals of honor for different services. Air Force, Army, Navy. (marines and coast guard would come under the navy)
There is also a space medal of honor. The only U.S. medal inset with a diamond. 10 were made, none have been awarded.

Civil War medal is on a standard suspension as are pre-WW1 medals. The neck suspension came later.

Edited by John Sukey
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Is it true that if one member of one of the US Armed Forces recieves the Medal of Honour, that an award has to be made to a member of all the other US Armed Forces?

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Surely the Medal of Honour can't be compared to the Victoria Cross? What do other members think of this? I am NOT undermining the worth of the Medal of Honour. If anything, i feel the Victoria Cross is actually TOO hard to be awarded.

I second Foo Fighter's post, i'm sure i remember reading his point somewhere....

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Guest John Sukey

Is it true that if one member of one of the US Armed Forces recieves the Medal of Honour, that an award has to be made to a member of all the other US Armed Forces?

Simple answer, NO!!!!!!!!

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Guest John Sukey

Surely the Medal of Honour can't be compared to the Victoria Cross? What do other members think of this? I am NOT undermining the worth of the Medal of Honour. If anything, i feel the Victoria Cross is actually TOO hard to be awarded.

I second Foo Fighter's post, i'm sure i remember reading his point somewhere....

And just WHY should the Medal of Honor NOT be compared to the VC???

1. Both are the highest award that can be issued in either country.

2. To get either one, you have to go far beyond what is expected.

3. A lot of either medal are awarded posthumously.

Its not that the VC is "too hard" to get, its just that there have'nt been as many opportunities. We had Vietnam with very large numbers of troops involved for years. Your last opportunity was the Falklands in which two were awarded. Before that, there was the Korean war. Possibly there will be a VC as a result of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Edited by John Sukey
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And just WHY should the Medal of Honor NOT be compared to the VC???

1. Both are the highest award that can be issued in either country.

2. To get either one, you have to go far beyond what is expected.

3. A lot of either medal are awarded posthumously.

I agree to a certain extent. But as a collector why is it I can go and buy a Congressional Medal of Honour in London with Provenance for ?5000 and a VC will cost me between ?180,000 to ?200,000 ?

Your last opportunity was the Falklands in which two were awarded. Before that, there was the Korean war. Possibly there will be a VC as a result of Iraq or Afghanistan

and also don't forget India, Palestine, Malaya, Suez Canal Zone, Kenya, Cyprus, Suez 1956, Borneo, Aden, Radfan, Oman, Dhofar, Gulf War I, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone cheeky

Edited by Tom King
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Guest John Sukey

Yes, you Are being out of order.
While somebody in London may buy a Medal of Honor, in this country IT IS ILLEGAL TO BUY OR SELL THE MEDAL. Plus I hardly think you would be able to buy 40 of them!

Now just why in the heck do you think the price of that medal in the U.K. is any indication of what the person it was awarded to had to do to win it????? mad.gif

There are some of these medals that at one time were used as display items, ie; not awarded to anyone. and that may be what is on the market.

We do hold our medal of Honor winners in high regard in this country, just as you hold VC winners in high regard in the U.K.
And I do NOT appreciate anyone taking cheap shots at the medal or the men who won it!!!!! flame

Edited by John Sukey
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This is meant to be a Gentleman?s Club and I think that the debate has gone off track some what.

The original question was asked is it harder to be awarded the VC than the Medal of honour ? My response and opinion to this is YES it is harder to be awarded a VC and this is why:

It is ordained that the Cross shall only be awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy

This is not the case for the Medal of Honour as it can be awarded in peacetime.

Since 1861 the CMH has been awarded 3400 times.

Since 1854 the VC has been awarded 1354 times.

Therefore even subtracting the 239 awarded in Vietnam I think the statistics speak for themselves. i.e.

In WW2 182 VC's were awarded.

In WW2 433 Congressional Medals of Honour were awarded.

Clearly this illustrates that it is harder for British & Commonwealth troops to be awarded their respective highest Gallantry award.

The point that Tom King was also trying to make is from a medal collector?s point of view. The VC is considered to be the premier gallantry medal in the world. That is why there is a huge and in my opinion disproportionate difference in the value between the two. Again facts speak for themselves at auction this year a WW2 VC to the RAF went for over ?210,000.

As for the comments to date, Biscuit Browns comments were insensitive and flippant, and this is a warning that such comments are not welcome.

Other than that I do believe a serious question was being asked by Firefly which did not deserve such a rebuke from John S.

Clearly both awards are each respective countries highest awards for gallantry with some amazing and selfless acts of courage and tragedy behind each and every medal awarded. Regardless of statistics no one can take away this fact and certainly no one should cast any shadow over their names regardless of their country.

Oh but I forgot that's what exactly the allies did as the victors in WW2. Spoils of war eh Knights Crosses et al:

Lets try to stay focused and respectful please. jumping

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Guest John Sukey

O.k. but you must remember that the medals were awarded during the civil war for the simple reason that that was the ONLY medal we had for gallantry under fire.
Now a large number, well over a thousand were revoked when the standards were revised after WW1. So that brings down the count drasticaly.

While the medal of honor Can be awarded in peacetime, you could count those on the fingers of one hand. Of course you have The george Cross to take care of that.

At least we did not require that you survive to recieve it, as was necessary for the Early V.C.'s Nor did we revoke them for bigamy.

while a collector may consider the V.C. the premier medal from a monetary standpoint that is the only criteria you can truthfuly use. As for what is necessary to be awarded either medal, one should read the citations rather than the price guides.

A small question on that point. Would anyone care to estimate how many V.C.'s would have been awarded for the action at Rorke's drift if Isandlwana had not occurred?

while I am all for national pride in the accomplishments of our militaries and greatly respect anyone awarded the V.C., I still detect a bit of one upsmanship in your reply.
Perhaps that is natural, just as a german would count the Ritterkreuz mit eichenlaub,schwerten und brillianten as harder to achieve than the V.C. After all far fewer were awarded.

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while I am all for national pride in the accomplishments of our militaries and greatly respect anyone awarded the V.C., I still detect a bit of one upsmanship in your reply

Yes perhaps I can confess to being guilty of that, but as you say national pride does play a part in this debate, and as you have capably demonstrated yourself one up man ship does play a part as well.

What is important is that we all recognise our hero's and what they have done regardless of their nationality. In a society where film stars and football players are seen as hero's it is important to remember the sacrifices that others have made for the greater good.

As for the Knights Cross with oakleaves, swords and diamonds. Remember that these were also awarded for leadership and strategic battlefield ability as well as gallantry. But the highest award of all for the Germans in WW2 the Knights Cross in Gold, Diamonds, swords and oakleaves only awarded once was debatably awarded to the greatest combat flyer the world has ever seen Hans Uric Rudel, but that is for another post. wink.gif

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What is important is that we all recognise our hero's and what they have done regardless of their nationality. In a society where film stars and football players are seen as hero's it is important to remember the sacrifices that others have made for the greater good.

Well said.

To clear things up for my part, my original post did stress that i was in no way undermining the achievements of Medal of Honor winners. I did also state that i considered the VC possibly too hard to be awarded (if it is even possible to place 'criteria' on such a thing). I still hold that opinion.

I have no interest in buying or selling medals, and my second reply was to Tom Kings interesting post, not Biscuit Browns. As for one-upmanship, thats not my bag at all....

I do hold the Medal of Honor (when awarded for combat) in high regard. I was recently reading a book about the battle for Iwo Jima, and the stories of the twenty-four Medal of Honor recipients after that horrific battle. I cannot imagine what those men must have gone through on that island, each and every award being deserved.

I hope this has made my views a bit clearer.....

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Guest John Sukey

Hartman did survive the war and became a high ranking offcer in the Post war german air force. I forget the rank. He made a few other people unhappy when he opposed the rearming with the F104 starfighter, saying the air force was not ready for it. In the end he was proved right, as the accident rate was very high. I believe he was eased out because of that.

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Guest John Sukey

Oh by the way. back to the topic. By Royal Warrent dated 10 August 1858, 7VC's were awarded "for acts of conspicuous courage and bravery under circumstances of extreme danger in which through the courage and devotion displayed, life or public property might be saved." I believe these are roughly the standards for the GC.

Five VC's were awarded to the Warwickshire Rgt. (24th foot) for the rescue of a shore party by rowing through heavy surf three times to rescue that party and return them to the ship on 7 May 1867

The Royal Warrant of 23 April 1881 changed the requirements to acts of bravery in the prescence of the enemy, thus negating the earlier warrent.

There was one more VC in the 24th during the Zulu War. Pte. William Griffiths who had the misfortune to be present at Isandlwana, was one of the original boat crew.

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