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Medal of Honor Collection

The MOH is the highest and most prestigious US military medal. It is awarded by the President of the United States in the name of Congress, and for that reason it is often referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. (Congress awards its own medals of honor, the Congressional Gold Medal and Congressional Silver Medal—the nation's highest awards that do not involve combat).


The Medal of Honor—whether the Air Force, Army, or Navy version—by law is only awarded for military action involving armed conflict. Specifically, the MOH may be awarded to members of the US Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their lives above and beyond the call of duty under any of the following circumstances:


1. While engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States.

2. While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.

3. While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.


The Air Force and its predecessor organizations awarded the Army MOH until April 14, 1965, when the Secretary of the Air Force approved the design of an Air Force MOH.


According to USAF, the first US Air Service airman to receive an MOH was Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker for action on Sept. 25, 1918. (However, the confusion of demobilization derailed the paperwork, preventing its immediate approval; the President presented the award on Nov. 6, 1930.) The second US Air Service airman to be recommended for the MOH was Lt. Frank Luke, for action on Sept. 29, 1918; his was a posthumous award in 1919, so some sources list Luke as the first airman recipient.


Maj. Bernard F. Fisher was the first airman to receive the Air Force MOH, presented Jan. 19, 1967, for action in Vietnam on March 10, 1966.


As of May 17, 2013, 60 airmen have received the MOH:


World War I


World War II


Korean War


Vietnam War