The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest award for an individual serving in the United States Armed Services. This award is awarded for valor in action against an enemy force. Over 3,400 medals have been awarded to date.

The medal itself is the only United States Military Award that is worn around the neck rather than pinned to the uniform. They first were made by the Philadelphia Mint at the request of Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. It is illegal to sell, wear, or manufacture copies of the Medal of Honor.

There are three types of Congressional Medals of Honor, each with a slightly different look and history.

James W. Grimes introduced a bill for the Medal of Honor on December 9, 1861. The awards “which shall be bestowed upon such petty officers, seamen, landsmen and marines as shall distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action and other seamanlike qualities during the present war (Civil War)." This was the start of the Navy Medal of Honor.


Massachusetts Senator Henry Wilson on February 17, 1862 introduced a bill for medal of honor of the army.

Air Force:

The Air Force branch of the Armed Services didn’t get authorized a medal of honor until 1956. The Air Force Medal of Honor is 50% larger than the others.