Awarding highest military honor can take decades

AP News
Posted: Sep 15, 2011 4:30 PM
Awarding highest military honor can take decades

Although the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced only 10 recipients of the Medal of Honor, including two this year, history shows that others are likely to join the list years after those conflicts are over.

Just four months ago, two soldiers were awarded the nation's highest military honor for their heroism in the Korean War _ one for his actions in 1951, the other in 1952.

Last year, a hero of the Vietnam War was added to the list for his actions in 1968.

And just 10 years ago, one Civil War soldier and one from the 1898 Spanish-American War were awarded the medal.

This reflects the fact that acts of battlefield heroism sometimes do not come to light sufficiently until years or decades afterward. The small number awarded thus far from Iraq and Afghanistan also reflects the nature of those conflicts, in which set piece battles are less common than in past wars.

Sgt. Dakota Meyer, who received his medal from President Barack Obama on Thursday, is the sixth recipient from the Afghan war and just the third still living from that conflict. The two others are Army Staff Sgt. Leroy A. Petry, who received his medal in July, and Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore A. Giunta, who got his in last November.

Four have received the medal for actions in Iraq _ none still living. Two of them were awarded in 2008, one in 2007 and one in 2005.

It was not until 2007, six years into the Afghan war, that the conflict produced its first Medal of Honor recipient _ Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy. The next was Army Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti, in 2009. There were two last year: Giunta and Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller.

Compared to the six for Afghanistan and four for Iraq, the Vietnam War has produced 248 recipients, the Korean War had 136, World War II had 467 and World War I had 119.