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Honorable Pennsylvanians

Fall 2008, Fall 2009

The Congressional Medal of Honor is given to members of the armed forces who exhibit courage and gallantry beyond the call of duty. Congress gives this honor to those men and women in uniform who have given or risked their lives for another person – be they military or civilian. It is most common for the Medal to be given for acts of bravery during times of military conflict; however, there are a few cases of peacetime Medals of Honor given to people who have risked their lives for another person. Those people are usually seamen who rescue either another seaman or civilian who has fallen overboard a ship.  Medals relating to this kind of bravery are not handed out as often as they used to be.

Congress awards the Medal after some time of deliberating the nomination’s merits. The process as a whole usually takes about two years from the time of delegation. Because it is the military’s highest honor, it is not handed out readily, and not every person who is considered is chosen as a recipient. The person being considered must have risked his or her life and distinguished himself above his fellow service men.

A precursor to the Medal of Honor was the Navy Medal of Valor, which came into effect December 21, 1861. President Lincoln signed Public Resolution 82, making the medal official. The Medal of Honor was then established by Congress on July 12, 1862. It was first issued during the Civil War, and, because it was the only medal given for bravery, there were over 1,500 recipients. Early in the Civil War, Army General-in-Chief Winfield Scott rejected the idea of the Medal because he thought the giving of medals by the government was too European. It was later accepted. In 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the Medal of Honor became the highest military award. Congress amended the official award resolution on July 9, 1918, and again on July 25, 1963. As the Medal gained prestige and other valor awards were created, fewer Medals of Honor were handed out. By the end of the Vietnam War, only 238 medals had been awarded during that entire conflict.

To date, 3,460 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Of those, 378 are accredited to Pennsylvania. With more than ten percent of the total awards given, Pennsylvania ranks second only to New York State in most awards. Pennsylvania also boasts the only person to receive two Medals of Honor for two different conflicts: Smedley Darlington Butler.

Congressional Medal of Honor
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the nation's highest decoration for valor.

Indian Wars

The Indian Wars began as a result of a clash of cultures between Europeans and the Native Americans. Justifiably angry about the European invasion of their native land and the destruction of their resources, the Indians began waging war against the Europeans. Anxious to acquire the land and with a feeling of superiority, the Europeans fought back. The wars lasted from the mid 1800s until about 1890. Europeans kept forcing Native Americans further and further West until the majority of Indians either died or were forced to live on reservations largely in the West. The Trail of Tears is the most notable forced expulsion in which many Indians lost their lives. It was a journey which led the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Chickasaw, Muscogee-Creek, and many of the Seminole from the Southeast to Oklahoma. Many people on both sides of the war lost lives. This war led to the making of many treaties, many of which were abrogated by the American government. There never seemed to be an official end to the war, except for the many unfulfilled treaties made in the late 1800s. The Indians Claims Commission was established in 1946 to settle any of these unfulfilled treaties.

Indian Wars Medal of Honor recipients:

William Allen
James (Edward James) Brogan
Benjamin Brown
George Ritter Burnett
Heth Canfield
Louis Henry Carpenter
Wilfred Clark
John W. Comfort
Charles Crandall
Charles Daily
George Deary
William Dougherty
Daniel Farren
Albert Glavinski (Glawinski)
Jacob Gunther (Guenther)
Leander Herron
Michael Himmelsback
Samuel Hoover
Thomas H. Hubbard
James W. Huff
John Kay
John Kilmartin (Gilmartin)
John Kirk
George Krause Kitchen
Wendlin Kreher
John May
Michael P. McCormick
Henry W. B. Mechlin
George W. Miller
John James Mitchell
James L. Morris
Edward F. Murphy
Moses Orr
Josiah Pennsyl
William Rankin
Patrick Rogan
David Ryan
Griffin Seward
Robert Smith
Theodore F. Smith
George Springer
William Strayer
Richard Longstreet Tea
Peter Thompson
Jacob Trautman
Charles H. Ward
James C. Watson
Andrew J. Weaher (Weaber)
Jacob Widmer
Henry Wilkens
William Wilson
Joseph Witcome
Zachariah (Zachery T.) Woodall

Civil War

The Civil War, which took place 1861-1865, was a war between the North (the Union) and the South (the Confederacy), with some states remaining torn between the two, the “Border States.” The Northern States were overwhelmingly industrial and anti-slavery. The Southern states relied on the production of cotton and other agriculture and the keeping of slaves for their economic stability. The war started when the Confederate States of America (Virginia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas) formed with Jefferson Davis of Mississippi as president. Soon after, in 1861, the Confederates opened fire against the Union at Fort Sumter, and the war broke out. The Confederates had considerably less resources than the Union, and in 1865, after a series of defeats for the Confederates, they surrendered. After a period of Reconstruction, the United States of America was restored.

Civil War Medal of Honor recipients:

Robert Wesley Ammerman
Everett W. Anderson
Abraham Kerns Arnold
Absolom Baird
Charles H. Baldwin
Eugene Beauharnais Beaumont
Orrin Bennett
William H.H. Benyaurd
Charles Malone Betts
Hillary Beyer
Richard Binder (Bigle)
Henry Harrison Bingham
Francis A. Bishop
Wilmon Whilldin Blackmar
Charles Blucher
Henry G. Bonebrake
Sylvester Bonnaffon, Jr.
Hugh Patterson Boon
Felix Brannigan
John Brazell
Lewis Francis Brest
Charles Breyer
Charles E. Brown
Jeremiah Z. Brown
Henry Brutsche
Daniel G. Caldwell
Casper R. Carlisle
Jacob Cart
Joseph B. Chambers
James G. Clark
Charles H. Clausen
Cecil Clay
Robert Teleford Clifford (Kelley)
John E. Clopp
Charles H.T. Collis
Trustrim Connell
William C. Connor
Walter Howard Cooke
Joseph Kirby Corson
Alexander Crawford
Thomas H. Cripps
Francis Marion Cunningham
John A. Davidsizer
Charles C. Davis
Charles Day
Charles Deakin
Patrick DeLacey
John Carroll Delaney
Hiram A. DeLavie
John Dempster
J. Henry Denig
John P. Donaldson
William Doolen
Michael Dougherty
James K. L. Duncan
Nathan Huntley Edgerton
Alexander Elliott
James Edgar Engle
Thomas Evans
John C. Ewing
Charles H. Fasnacht
John Barclay Fassett
Joseph Fisher
Augustin D. Flanagan
William R. Fox
Jacob G. Frick
Isaac N. Fry
West Funk
Chester S. Furman
Frank Furness
George Norton Galloway
John Galloway
Edward Lyons Gilligan
Joseph Gion
William Ernest Goodman
William L. Graul
Ignatz Gresser
Edmund Haffee
Richard Hamilton
Amzi Davis Harmon
George W. Harris
John Frederic Hartranft
Thomas R. Hawkins
Guy Vernor Henry
Frnacis Jay Herron
John S. Hickman
Charles Higby
Henry Hill
Thomas W. Hoffman
Franklin Hogan
Solomon J. Hottenstine
Henderson Calvin Howard
Henry Shippen Huidekoper
John C. Hunterson
Charles Henry Ilgenfritz
James t. Jennings
Joseph Esrey Johnson
Samuel Johnson
William Jones
Alexander Kelly
Thomas R. Kerr
John m. Kindig
John Kinsey
Theodore L. Kramer
John Lafferty (Laverty)
James Parker Landis
John Lawson
Nicholas Lear
Pierre Leon
William Edman
Dewitt Clinton lewis
John Lilley
Benjamin Lloyd
Cyrus B. Lower
Gotlieb Luty
Charles D. Marquette
Edward S. Martin
James Martin
Sylvester Hopkins Martin
John Calvin Matthews
Milton Matthews
Peter McAdams
Charles McAnally
Michael McKeever
Nathaniel A. McKown
George Washington McWilliams
George W. Mears
William Edward Miller
Alexander H. Mitchell
Theodore Mitchell
Patrick H. Monaghan
William Powers Morris
Francis Morrison
John William Mostoller
St. Clair Agustin Mulhooland
Harvey May Munsell
Charles Oliver
Robert Levan Orr
John Ortega
Jacob George Orth
William Jackson Palmer
William H. Paul
Alfred L. Perason
Galusha Pennypacker
Philip Petty
Josiah Phillips
James Milton Pipes
George J. Pitman
George Crawford Platt
Horace Porter
Hiram W. Purcell
James Jackson Purman
Matthew Stanley Quay
John Rannahan
Jacob F. Raub
George W. Reed
Robert Alexander Reid
Daniel P. Reigle
James Monroe Reisinger
Sylvester D. Rhodes
Thomas Robinson
Theophilus Francis Rodenbough
Ferdinand Frederick Rohn
George Washington Roosevelt
Stephen Rought
James Levi Roush
Archibald Hamilton Rowand, Jr.
James May Rutter
Louis Jeanhottelle Sacriste
Aaron Sanderson
William Sands
Martin E. Scheibner
James Martinus Schoonmaker
John Wallace Scott
James M. Seitzinger
Alfred Jacob Sellers
Charles Shambaugh
John Shellenberger
John Shiel
George J. Shopp
Henry C. Slusher
Thaddeus S. Smith
James Snedden
Michael A. Sowers
John Hamilton Reid Storey
Bernard A. Strausburgh
Jacob E. Swap
Anthony Taylor
William G. Taylor
Hampton Sidney Thomas
Henry A. Thompson, aka: Roderick P. Connelly
James B. Thompson
John Tweedale
John Mitchell Vanderslice
Joseph E. Vantine
Pinkerton Ross Vaughn
Moses Veale
John Wainwright
George Washington Walton
John Henry White
Joseph White
John Williams
Peter Williams
William Williams
Richard Willis
Francis A. Wilson
William J. Wray
Albert D. Wright
Andrew J. Young

Korean Campaign (1871)

In August, 1866, after many attempts to persuade Korea to trade with the West, the American ship General Sherman approached the Korean coast. Furious warnings to turn away were left unheeded, and the General Sherman anchored in Korean waters. Increasing Western influence on the entire Far East left leaders on edge, and the seemingly inevitable trade was more than they wanted to be forced to do. One of these leaders, Yi Hong-ik, was invited aboard the Sherman and then kidnapped. The USS General Sherman was lost at sea, and Korean officials claimed they had destroyed it. In April 1870, the United States foreign minister in China was sent to Korea to negotiate a trade treaty and investigate the loss of the General Sherman. Commanded by Admiral Rodgers, the USS Colorado and other American ships were also dispatched to Korea to assist with negotiations. These Western influences were still not welcome and the ships were fired upon. With tensions rising, in 1871, after the murder of Americans inside Korea, a full-on war took place.  In action that lasted less than six months, a treaty officially ended the affair in 1872.

Korean Campaign (1871) Medal of Honor recipients:

James Dougherty
Henry Patrick Grace
Hugh Purvis

Spanish-American War

Tension between Spain and America arose from America’s support of Cuba trying to liberate itself from Spain. After Spain heavily invaded Cuba in 1895, concentrated Cubans around military bases, and starved them, the United States sent the USS Maine to calm tensions and aid the Cubans. Not long before the USS Maine was to return to the United States, a mine detonated underneath the ship while it was anchored in Havana harbor, killing 260 Navy service men immediately, and six men later from related injuries. Back in the United States, public opinion hurriedly turned strongly against Spain. President McKinley wanted to peaceably settle the dispute, but public opinion driven by the yellow journalism of the time made war inevitable. He began military preparations, and imposed a blockade on Cuba. Spain then declared war on the United States on April 23, 1898. The United States followed suit with an official declaration on April 25. After a series of strategic battles, the United States and Spain signed a peace treaty in Paris on December 10, 1898, which gave Cuba its independence, gave Puerto Rico and Guam to the U.S., and gave the U.S. the ability to purchase the Philippines Islands from Spain for $20 million.

Spanish-American War Medal of Honor recipients:

Ulysses G. Buzzard
William Adolphus Crouse
John Francis Deswan
Philip Gaughan
Hans Johnsen
Peter Johnson
Fitz Lee
William Levery
Henry Lewis Macneal
George Mahoney
John Henry Quick
Alexander M. Quinn
Norman W. Ressler
Warren Julius Shepherd
Axel Leohard Sundquist

Philippine Insurrection

After victory in the Spanish-American War, the Treaty of Paris was signed, giving the United States ownership of the Philippines. When President McKinley declared that Filipinos were not to have independence, an uprising began. They started to rebel against the newly established American leaders in 1899. Suffering many defeats in battle, the Philippine leader, General Emilio Aguinaldo surrendered on April 16, 1902. The American occupation did not end there, however. Troops stayed to fight the Muslim Moros in southern Philippines until 1913. The Filipinos never gave up in their pursuit of independence; it was eventually granted in 1946.

Philippine Insurrection Medal of Honor recipients:

Louis Gedeon William Palmer Maclay

China (Boxer Rebellion)

Because of increasingly unwanted Western influence in the Far East, the Boxers, a secret Chinese society, began attacks on Western affiliated establishments and Chinese Christians in 1898. After the Boxers killed a British missionary on December 30, 1899, Western countries who had territorial “concessions” in China declared war on them. While the Boxers were never officially backed by the Chinese government, there was little it could do to control the militant secret society. Western countries, including Great Britain, Germany, Russia, France, the United States, Japan, Italy, and Austria deployed ships to Peking to begin fighting the Boxers. The Western forces were too strong for the Boxers to hold off, and the war was officially ended on September 1, 1901, with the Chinese government disbanding the Boxers.

China (Boxer Rebellion) Medal of Honor recipients:

Andre Walker Brewster
Albert Ralph Campbell
Harry Fisher, aka:  Franklin J. Phillips
Alexander Joseph Foley
Charles Robert Francis
William M. Charlie Horton
Joseph Killackey
Clarence Edward Mathias
Joseph Andrew Mitchell

Mexican Campaign

Mexico was embroiled in a civil war between 1910 and 1916. The fighting grew more and more intense, concerning U.S. President William Howard Taft. He sent troops to protect those citizens as well as American economic investments. Amidst the confusion among various factions, the President Wilson eventually backed the new government of Venustiano Carranza. This angered other erstwhile allies of the U.S., including Pancho Villa. Villa retaliated with an attack on Columbus, New Mexico, killing 17 citizens and destroying a portion of the town. Wilson’s reaction was to station the National Guard near the Mexican border and to launch expeditions into northern Mexico. While there was exchanged firing over the border between American troops and Villa’s troops, the main killers of Americans were climate and disease. Fighting faded and in March 1917, Wilson withdrew the troops.

Mexican Campaign Medal of Honor recipients:

Charles Francis Bishop
Smedley Darlington Butler
Niels Drustrup
George Maus Lowry
William Rees Rush
Robert Semple
Lawrence Clinton Sinnett

Haitian Campaign

Haiti has been a site of continuous United States presence since around 1800. Due to civil disorder in 1915, however, the United States deployed more troops to protect the Americans located there. The civil unrest was because of the overthrow of the Haitian president, Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam by militiamen. After restoring order, the U.S. helped the Haitians hold their first elections on August 12, 1915. A treaty was signed, giving the U.S. control over Haitian finances, customs, police, public works, sanitation, and medical services on September 15, 1915. Eventually, in 1918, with the help of then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Haitian officials wrote their first constitution. The United States occupation of Haiti ended on August 14, 1934, when the last troops were withdrawn.

Haitian Campaign Medal of Honor recipients:

Smedley Darlington Butler
Samuel Gross (Marguilies)
Ross Lindsey Iams

World War I

World War I would prove to be one of the bloodiest wars to date, and also a war of firsts. After the assassination of the heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, a series of events led to the official start of the war in July of 1914. With the assassination, heightened by an arms race between the British and German navies and a strained European web of alliances, it was inevitable that a war break out. The United States did not enter the war until April 6, 1917 after Germany declared the water around the British Isles a war zone. Because of our strong ally ties with Great Britain, we had stationed neutral vessels in the area. WWI was the first time chemical weapons were used, the first time state-sponsored propaganda was issued, and the first trench warfare tactics were used. It is also the first time a war was felt throughout the economy. The war of attrition waged in the trenches on the Western Front eventually led to the surrender of the German Empire in November 1918. As a result of the war, the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated, the German Empire became a republic, and the Russian Empire became, after much bloodshed, the Soviet Union. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, officially ending the war. Among its clauses was the infamous War Guilt provision which blamed Germany solely for the war. Many historians have traced the onset of World War II to this very clause in the peace treaty.

World War I Medal of Honor recipients:

Joel Thompson Boone
James I. Mestrovitch
Orlando Henderson Petty
Oscar Schmidt, Jr.
Dwite H. Schaffner
Joseph Henry Thompson

World War II

After the end of the First World War, peace lasted only a few short years. The prelude to war began when the newly empowered Germany forced Czechoslovakia to cede lands in which Germans were the ethnic majority in 1938. The war itself began with the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. As it had during the early stages of World War I, the United States remained neutral in the conflict because of the public’s commitment to isolationism, though clearly government sympathies lay with the British. The American hand was forced when Germany’s ally Japan bombed the U.S. port in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941. A network of alliances brought Germany and Italy to war against the United States, its major allies, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, as well as many other countries. As in the last World War, the U.S. sent many men to war, leaving women to work outside the home. Ration cards were instituted and the entire country of civilians was conserving goods for the military. It was the first time the military had a huge surge of women serving – over 350,000, total. Most of them served as nurses or clerics. Having beaten the Italian army into submission earlier in the war, hostilities ended in Europe in May 1945 with the German surrender following Hitler’s suicide. The war in the Pacific lasted until August 1945 when the Japanese Empire surrendered in the aftermath of the first two nuclear bomb blasts over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

World War II Medal of Honor recipients:

Alvin P. Carey
Anthony Peter Damato
Leonard Alfred Funk, Jr.
Sherwood H. Hallman
Harry R. Harr
Edwin Joseph Hill
Freeman Victor Horner
Alton W. Kanppenberger
Charles E. Kelly
John D. Kelly
Robert Earl Laws
Donald Ronald Lobaugh
Archibald Mathies
John J. McVeigh
Gino Joseph Merli
Harold O. Messerschmidt
John W. Minick
Mitchell Paige
John J. Pinder, Jr.
James W. Reese
Robert E. Roeder
Joseph Raymond Sarnoski
Foster Joseph Sayers
William Arthur Shomo
Edward A. Silk
John Joseph Tominac
Day G. Turner
Ellis R. Weicht
Alfred Leonard Wilson

Korean War

After World War II and the liberation of Korea from occupation forces from Japan, both the United States and the Soviet Union wanted control over the newly liberated country. Neither was willing to yield, and differences could not be reconciled. The United States took control of South Korea and the Soviet Union took control of North Korea. In May of 1948, South Korea held their first general elections with the help of the United States. At that same time, North Korea decided to hold their first general elections with the help of the Soviet Union to parallel. Being that Korea was still recognized as one country nationally, both governments could not be legitimized. The United Nations and the United States recognized the Republic of Korea (in the South) as the legitimate government, while the Soviet Union and other Communist countries recognized the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (in the North) as the legitimate government. This caused a civil war, and on June 25, 1950, the more powerful military of North Korea fired the first shot of the official war. Not only was North Korea’s military more prepared with troops, but they had also been building weapons and had received weapons from the Soviet Union. At that point, the United Nations deemed it necessary to take police action and many United States troops were stationed in North Korea. China came to the aide of North Korea and pushed the UN back to South Korea. The Chinese army was then contained and forced to retreat. Negotiations between North and South Korea began in mid 1951, lasting until July 27, 1953. Fighting then ceased and a ceasefire was issued.

Korean War Medal of Honor recipients:

Edward Clyde “Ted” Benfold
Melvin L. Brown
John Doran Kelly
Frederick William Mausert, III
George Henry Ramer
Robert Dale Reem
William S. Sitman
Clifton T. Speicher

Vietnam War

Initially, the involvement of the United States in Vietnam was limited. Advisors were sent to South Vietnam to help train its army in 1950. United States aid was necessary to help South Vietnam resist the threat North Vietnam posed to their sovereignty as a democratic nation. Eventually, the United States became more involved, and the conflict was American led and financed. After years of fighting, a peace agreement was reached in 1973. However, North Vietnam chose to ignore the agreement and invaded South Vietnam. By 1975, the South Vietnamese capitol of Saigon collapsed, and the North had defeated the South.

Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients:

Michael Joseph Crescenz
Ralph Ellis Dias
David Charles Dolby
Glenn Harry English, Jr.
Walter Joseph Marm, Jr.
William David Morgan
William David Port
William Raymond Prom


The ongoing conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States surfaced again in Somalia in the late sixties. Under the leadership of President Said Barre, elected on October 21, 1969, Somalia became a socialist nation, aligned with the Soviet Union. Not everyone in his country agreed with the way it was being run, however, and Barre was opposed in 1988, and he finally fled the country on January 27, 1991. Among Somalians, clans divided the country. Fighting over the port left the country in a state of famine, which triggered the United States’ involvement. Once the United States gained control of the port and food distribution evened out, President Clinton declared mission accomplished in May, 1993, however, at the request of the United Nation, President Clinton left some troops there to help build a nation. Many Somalians did not want the United States’ presence, and started attacking our troops and our allies’ troops. Clinton refused to send more troops to assist the efforts there, and the United States suffered a loss of life greater than anticipated. Clinton then removed all troops from the area.

Somalia Action Medal of Honor recipient:

Randall David Shughart

War on Terrorism

The official start of the War on Terrorism began when President George W. Bush announced on the night of September 11, 2001, that the United States would take a defiant stance against the attacks that had taken place on that day. The morning of September 11, 2001, two air planes were flown into the World Trade Center Towers at the hands of members belonging to the terrorist organization Al-Qaida; another plane was flown into the Pentagon, and a fourth, suspected to be headed to the White House was taken over by the passengers and crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The United States deployed troops to Afghanistan to apprehend the leader of Al-Qaida, Osama Bin Laden. Troops were also sent to Iraq where they eventually unseated long-time president Saddam Hussein. Efforts to disable terrorist cells at home and abroad are still taking place.

War on Terrorism Medal of Honor recipient:

Ross A. McGinnis

Peace Time

Peace Time awards are given for acts of courage displaying disregard for one’s own life in regard for another’s at a time when no war is being fought.

Peace Time Medal of Honor recipients:

Frank DuMoulin
Edward Barrett
David M. Buchanan
George W. Cutter
John Johnson
Joseph Matthews
Hugh Miller
John O’Neal
Isaac Sapp
James A. Stewart
James Thayer
Michael Thornton
James M. Trout
Henry Williams
Alphonse Girandy
Alexander Peters
William Ellsworth Snyder
Frank William Crilley
Henry Clay Drexler
Walter Atlee Edwards
William Russell Huber
Joseph H. Davis