The Medal of Honor is the HIGHEST military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President in the name of Congress, and is conferred only upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States." Due to the nature of its selection criteria, it is often awarded posthumously, with more than half of all awards since 1941 given to individuals who were deceased. As the award citation includes the phrase "in the name of Congress", it is sometimes erroneously called the "Congressional Medal of Honor". The official title, however, is simply the "Medal of Honor". Members of all branches of the armed forces are eligible to receive the medal, and there are three different versions (one for the Army, one for the Air Force, and one for the Navy, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard). The Medal of Honor is presented directly to the recipient (or for posthumous awards, to the next of kin) by the President of the United States on behalf of the US Congress, a procedure and ceremony intended to represent and recognize the gratitude not just of the American government, but of the American people as a whole. Due to its honored status, the medal is afforded special protection under U.S. law. The Medal of Honor is one of only two military neck order awards issued by the United States, and is the only neck order that is awarded to members of the United States Armed Forces. The Commander's Degree of the Legion of Merit is a neck order of the US, but it is only authorized for issue to foreign dignitaries.
The following information was taken from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Their website has a lot of interesting information about the society.
These are the man from the 11th Light Infantry Brigade - Vietnam, who were awarded the Medal of Honor.
RANK: STAFF SERGEANT (HIGHEST RANK: FIRST SERGEANT)
CONFLICT/ERA: VIETNAM WAR
UNIT/COMMAND: COMPANY B, 4TH BATTALION, 21ST INFANTRY, 11TH INFANTRY BRIGADE, AMERICAL DIVISION
MILITARY SERVICE BRANCH: U.S. ARMY
MEDAL OF HONOR ACTION DATE: AUGUST 26, 1968
MEDAL OF HONOR ACTION PLACE: WEST OF TAM KY, REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. S/Sgt. Bacon distinguished himself while serving as a squad leader with the 1st Platoon, Company B, during an operation west of Tam Ky. When Company B came under fire from an enemy bunker line to the front, S/Sgt. Bacon quickly organized his men and led them forward in an assault. He advanced on a hostile bunker and destroyed it with grenades. As he did so, several fellow soldiers, including the 1st Platoon leader, were struck by machine-gun fire and fell wounded in an exposed position forward of the rest of the platoon. S/Sgt. Bacon immediately assumed command of the platoon and assaulted the hostile gun position, finally killing the enemy gun crew in a singlehanded effort. When the 3d Platoon moved to S/Sgt. Bacon's location, its leader was also wounded. Without hesitation S/Sgt. Bacon took charge of the additional platoon and continued the fight. In the ensuing action he personally killed four more enemy soldiers and silenced an antitank weapon. Under his leadership and example, the members of both platoons accepted his authority without question. Continuing to ignore the intense hostile fire, he climbed up on the exposed deck of a tank and directed fire into the enemy position while several wounded men were evacuated. As a result of S/Sgt. Bacon's extraordinary efforts, his company was able to move forward, eliminate the enemy positions, and rescue the men trapped to the front. S/Sgt. Bacon's bravery at the risk of his life was in the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Accredited to: Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona
Awarded Posthumously: No
Presentation Date & Details: November 24, 1969 The White House, presented by Pres. Richard M. Nixon
Born: November 25, 1945, Caraway, Craighead County, AR, United States
Died: July 17, 2010, Rosebud, AR, United States
Buried: Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery, Little Rock, AR, United States
Location of Medal: MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History (duplicate Medal), Little Rock, AR
Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
Unit/Command: 1st Platoon, Company B, 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, 23d Infantry Division (Americal)
Military Service Branch: U.S. Armybr> Medal of Honor Action Date: March 3, 1969
Medal of Honor Action Place: west of Landing Zone Liz, Republic of Vietnam
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Sgt. Stone distinguished himself while serving as squad leader of the 1st Platoon. The 1st Platoon was on a combat patrol mission just west of Landing Zone Liz when it came under intense automatic-weapons and grenade fire from a well-concealed company-size force of North Vietnamese regulars. Observing the platoon machine gunner fall critically wounded, Sgt. Stone remained in the exposed area to provide cover fire for the wounded soldier who was being pulled to safety by another member of the platoon. With enemy fire impacting all around him, Sgt. Stone had a malfunction in the machine gun, preventing him from firing the weapon automatically. Displaying extraordinary courage under the most adverse conditions, Sgt. Stone repaired the weapon and continued to place on the enemy positions effective suppressive fire which enabled the rescue to be completed. In a desperate attempt to overrun his position, an enemy force left its cover and charged Sgt. Stone. Disregarding the danger involved, Sgt. Stone rose to his knees and began placing intense fire on the enemy at point-blank range, killing six of the enemy before falling mortally wounded. His actions of unsurpassed valor were a source of inspiration to his entire unit, and he was responsible for saving the lives of a number of his fellow soldiers. His actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military profession and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Accredited to: Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York
Awarded Posthumously: Yes
Presentation Date & Details: April 7, 1970 The White House, presented by Pres. Richard M. Nixon to his family
Born: June 4, 1947, Binghamton, Broome County, NY, United States
Died: March 3, 1969, Republic of Vietnam
Buried: Chenango Valley Cemetery (MH), Binghamton, NY, United States
Rank: Private First Class
Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
Unit/Command: Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 3d Battalion, 1st Infantry, 11th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division
Military Service Branch: U.S. Army
Medal of Honor Action Date: May 13, 1970
Medal of Honor Action Place: Republic of Vietnam
Pfc. Winder distinguished himself while serving in the Republic of Vietnam as a senior medical aidman with Company A. After moving through freshly cut rice paddies in search of a suspected company-size enemy force, the unit started a thorough search of the area. Suddenly they were engaged with intense automatic-weapons and rocket-propelled-grenade fire by a well-entrenched enemy force. Several friendly soldiers fell wounded in the initial contact and the unit was pinned down. Responding instantly to the cries of his wounded comrades, Pfc. Winder began maneuvering across approximately 100 meters of open, bullet-swept terrain toward the nearest casualty. Unarmed and crawling most of the distance, he was wounded by enemy fire before reaching his comrades. Despite his wounds and with great effort, Pfc. Winder reached the first casualty and administered medical aid. As he continued to crawl across the open terrain toward a second wounded soldier he was forced to stop when wounded a second time. Aroused by the cries of an injured comrade for aid, Pfc. Winder's great determination and sense of duty impelled him to move forward once again, despite his wounds, in a courageous attempt to reach and assist the injured man. After struggling to within 10 meters of the man, Pfc. Winder was mortally wounded. His dedication and sacrifice inspired his unit to initiate an aggressive counterassault which led to the defeat of the enemy. Pfc. Winder's conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the cost of his life were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
Accredited to: Columbus, Franklin County, Ohio
Awarded Posthumously: Yes
Presentation Date & Details: July 17, 1974 Blair House (Courtyard), presented by Vice Pres. Gerald R. Ford to his family
Born: August 10, 1946, Edinboro, Erie County, PA, United States
Died: May 13, 1970, Republic of Vietnam
Buried: Mansfield Memorial Park (PMH) (B-465-4), Mansfield, OH, United States
The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) is an award of the United States Army which is presented to those officers, warrant officers and enlisted soldiers, in the grade of Colonel and below, who participate in active ground combat while assigned as a member of an infantry or Special Forces unit, brigade or smaller size, during any period subsequent to December 6, 1941. It was created with the primary goal of recognizing the sacrifices of the infantrymen who were disproportionately likely to be killed or wounded during World War II. The Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB) and the Expert Infantryman Badge (EIB) were established by Section I, War Department Circular 269, dated October 27, 1943:
The present war has demonstrated the importance of highly proficient, tough, hard and aggressive infantry, which can be obtained only by developing a high degree of individual all-around proficiency on the part of every infantryman. As a means of attaining the high standards desired and to foster esprit de corps in infantry units; the Expert Infantryman and the Combat Infantryman badges are established for infantry personnel. That circular also stated that, “only one of these badges will be worn at one time” and that “the Combat Infantryman Badge is the highest award.”
Award of the CIB was officially authorized by an executive order dated November 15, 1943. It was made retroactive to December 6, 1941. By Act of Congress approved on June 10, 1944, all soldiers, except officers, awarded the CIB were entitled to an additional $10 per month. Army regulations issued during World War II never prescribed a specific period of time an Infantryman had to serve in combat to be eligible for the CIB. In 1947, a policy was implemented that authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star to soldiers who had received the Combat Infantryman Badge during World War II. The basis for doing this was that the CIB was awarded only to soldiers who had borne combat duties befitting the Bronze Star Medal and also that both awards required a recommendation by the commander and a citation in orders. Work to establish the CIB was initiated by General Marshall, who had been prompted by Medal of Honor recipient Major Charles W. Davis’ observation to him that “it would be wonderful if someone could design a badge for every infantryman who faces the enemy every day and every night with so little recognition.” The following is a history of the CIB. The CIB was established by the War Department on 27 October 1943. Lieutenant General Lesley J. McNair, then the Army Ground Forces commanding general, was instrumental in its creation. He originally recommended that it be called the “fighter badge.” The CIB was designed to enhance morale and the prestige of the “Queen of Battle.” Then Secretary of War Henry Stinson said, “It is high time we recognize in a personal way the skill and heroism of the American infantry.”
A soldier must meet the following requirements to be awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge:
Campaign or battle credit alone is not sufficient for award of the CIB. A recipient must be personally present and under hostile fire while serving in an assigned infantry or Special Forces primary duty, in a unit actively engaged in ground combat with the enemy. The unit in question can be of any size smaller than brigade.
Of the hundreds of thousands of Infantrymen who have fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, only 325 have been awarded the third award of the Combat Infantryman's Badge, known as the Triple CIB. These men were honored with a display at the National Infantry Museum.
Taken from the original History of the Combat Infantryman’s Badge website and Wikipedia
The Combat Medical Badge (CMB) is awarded to any member of the Army Medical Department, ranked Colonel or below, assigned to a medical unit providing support to an infantry or special forces unit during any period in which the unit was engaged in active ground combat. The CMB was first created in 1945, but is retroactive to December 6, 1941. The original decoration was considered a one-time decoration, however, this directive was rescinded in 1951. Multiple awards are denoted by stars encircling the decoration. According to the US Army Medical Department Regiment, to date there have been only two soldiers that have earned the Combat Medical Badge with two stars: Henry Jenkins and Wayne Slagel. The directive was again altered in 1969 to specify that only one award of the Combat Medical Badge is authorized for service in the Vietnam Conflict Era, which included service in Vietnam and Laos, the Dominican Republic, and South Korea (subsequent to 4 January 1969). Current regulations have expanded this qualifying period to include service in El Salvador, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, and Somalia, and have added an additional qualifying period (the Global War on Terror Era) covering service in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 1947, a policy authorized the retroactive award of the Bronze Star Medal to soldiers who had received the Combat Medical badge during the Second World War. The reasoning behind this was that the CMB was awarded only to soldiers who had borne combat duties befitting the Bronze Star Medal, also both awards required a citation in orders and a recommendation by the commander.
As of 2005 the rules for eligibility were changed to allow any medical department soldier in a brigade or lower unit to be eligible so long as they are engaged in actual ground combat and performed medical duties. This now includes Soldiers assigned to aviation units. Additionally, in 2008, IED/VBIEDs can now be considered direct contact with the enemy.
Information taken from Wikipedia and USAMM