The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. Generally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress, it is often called the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Authorized in 1956, the Air Force unveiled its own design for the Medal of Honor in 1965. About 50% larger than the other services’ Medals of Honor, it retained the laurel wreath and oak leaves of the Army Medal which had previously been presented to members of the Army Air Service and Air Corps. It also retained the bar bearing the word “VALOR”. Inside the circle of stars the helmeted profile of Minerva from the Army’s medal is replaced by the head of the Statue of Liberty. Replacing the Army’s eagle is the Air Force Coat of Arms.
Since the formation of a separate Air Force in 1947 there have been seventeen recipients. Prior to 1963 members of the Army Air Corps and the Air Force were awarded the Army Medal. In 1963 the Air Force acquired its own MOH design. There were thirteen recipients in Vietnam.
It is bestowed “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force.”
There were three Air Rescue and Special Operations recipients during the Vietnam War. They are listed below and their citations may be viewed by clicking on the link.