The Medal of Honor (MoH) is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. Conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. The Navy and Marine Corps Medal of Honor was established on December 21, 1861 and is the nation’s oldest continuously awarded decoration. The naval forces version of the MoH may be awarded to a member of the United States Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, (and to members of the Coast Guard when operating under the authority of the Department of the Navy).
3,525 Servicemen have been awarded the MoH. Of that, 93 are African American. The first U.S. Serviceman of African descent to be decorated was Sergeant William Harvey Carney, U.S. Army during the U.S. Civil War. And although 1050 Marines, Sailors and Coastguardsmen have been awarded the MoH, only 18 Sailors, 6 Marines and no Coastguardsmen of African descent have been awarded this distinction. Click on the MOH icon below to access the link to the 93 African American Naval MoH recipients.
In August 2021, the Secretary of Defense directed a review of all African American and Native Americans previously awarded the various Service Crosses, to ensure that all Americans received equitable treatment, and to determine if they possibly rated the Medal of Honor instead. Many valorous acts worthy of the two highest decorations, this nation can bestow upon its Servicemen, likely were not properly recognized and awarded, due to systemic racism.