Double Winners of the Medal of Honor
The last scene of the 1985 motion picture “Rambo: First Blood Part II” has Colonel Troutman saying
“You’ll get a second Medal of Honor for this, John.”
Being an Army Brat, that statement made me curious as to whether that is possible. So I started researching. It turns out the answer was “not anymore.” In fact, there have been nineteen double winners of the Medal of Honor.
The Medal of Honor was created in 1862 during the U.S. Civil War. It was the only military decoration for valor until 1918 when the “Pyramid of Valor” was established by an Act of Congress. It created the Distinguished Service Cross (Army), Navy Cross, and other lesser awards. Henceforth the Medal of Honor could only be awarded once to an individual.
A recent Act of Congress has since removed this restriction. Regardless, it is highly unlikely anyone will ever again be awarded a second medal. There has been an unwritten rule since the end of World War II that no awardee is to die on active duty. Thus one will never again be allowed in a combat zone.
Of those nineteen men, two were considered for a third award.
For those wishing to learn more about these men, I recommend the book Double Winners of the Medal of Honor by Raymond J. Tassin. Dr. Tassin gives each man a chapter that starts with childhood and pre-service life, provides context to the conflicts participated in, fleshes out the cited actions (not all of which were combat!) via storytelling, and concludes with post-service life and death.
Daniel Daly, USMC
Lastly, I give you the nineteen (in chronological order):
- Thomas Custer (Army)
- John Cooper (Navy)
- Patrick Mullen (Navy)
- Frank Baldwin (Army)
- Patrick Leonard (Army)
- William Wilson (Army)
- Albert Weisbogel (Navy)
- Henry Hogan (Army)
- Robert Sweeney (Navy)
- Louis Williams (Navy)
- Daniel Daly (Marine Corps)
- John McCloy (Navy)
- Smedley Butler (Marine Corps)
- John King (Navy)
- Ernst Janson (Marine Corps)
- Matej Kocak (Marine Corps)
- Louis Cukela (Marine Corps)
- John Pruitt (Marine Corps)
- John Kelly (Marine Corps)