His Country’s Highest Honor

World War II veteran Nicholas Oresko was the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, before his death in 2013 at age 96, and his obituary tells of the valor that earned him this great honor.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military honor bestowed by the United States, awarded to members of the armed services who distinguish themselves “at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.”

As we pay tribute to Oresko, we’re also saluting other Medal of Honor recipients who have died.

Battle of the Bulge hero Nicholas Oresko

The Army master sergeant was badly wounded as he single-handedly took out two enemy bunkers during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. His actions on Jan. 23, 1945, were credited with preventing numerous American casualties and were praised as key to the Allies' victory. Read more


Randall Shughart, Medal of Honor recipient from Somalia battle

A lean machine in sneakers, the future Medal of Honor recipient had a knack for outmaneuvering jocks not used to playing football on pasture land.

“Randy was so quick ... Nobody could catch him,” childhood friend Neal McCulloch recalled. “If I were to describe him, he would be the quietest boy. In most of our crowds, he was the shortest or smallest.”

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Group fights to reclaim cemetery's lost Medal of Honor recipients

In an abandoned Philadelphia cemetery, Sam Ricks found his calling: to uncover and restore the graves of America's bravest -- forgotten heroes dating back to the Revolutionary War, 21 of whom are Medal of Honor recipients. Read more





First Afghanistan Medal of Honor recipient Michael Murphy

Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy was the leader of a SEAL team on the ground in the mountains along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. He and 2 other members of his team were killed when they came under hostile fire with Taliban insurgents. Read more




Drummer Boy Hero: The 14-Year-Old Medal Of Honor Recipient

Only 12 years old when the war began, he marched off with the 55th Illinois Infantry, where his older brother was also a drummer and their father (who’d been a drummer boy himself in the Mexican-American War) was the regiment’s band leader. Read more




WWI Medal of Honor recipient Henry Johnson Day

A World War I soldier from Albany who was awarded the Medal of Honor was honored in his hometown. Albany officials celebrated Henry Johnson Day with a ceremony at his statue in a city park. Read more





Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient Thomas J. Kinsman

Thomas J. “Jim” Kinsman was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon in 1969 after diving on a live grenade, saving the lives of other soldiers while in Vietnam.

“He would never want to be called a hero ... any of the other guys around him would have done the same thing.”

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How “The Little Drummer Boy from New York” earned the Medal of Honor

Modern military medals have lengthy citations that often vividly portray the sacrifice and heroism displayed by the recipients. At the Medal of Honor's inception during the Civil War, however, the curt citation often belied the extraordinary circumstances behind the award. Read more