Army civilian employees pass around retired Master Sgt. Leroy Petry’s Medal of Honor while attending a mental health awareness observance May 17, 2018, at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Petry was a keynote speaker at the event. US Army photo by Kevin Fleming.
One dragged a wounded comrade through a trench system in Korea, killing enemy soldiers as he went. Another was a helicopter crew member in Vietnam who was left behind during a rescue mission and spent the next four days fighting on the ground. Four others fought together through the long night of the Battle of Mogadishu.
After recent action by Congress, nine soldiers may soon see valor awards from three different eras upgraded, including five soldiers from the Korean and Vietnam Wars who are now in line for the Medal of Honor. Four special operations soldiers who fought in the Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 may now see their valor awards for the gunfight upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross.
Three of the five now eligible for the Medal of Honor, and one of the Mogadishu soldiers, died while fighting and were awarded posthumous Silver Stars or Distinguished Service Crosses. A fourth soldier survived the fight for which he is now under consideration for the Medal of Honor but was killed in later combat.
President Joe Biden signed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act into law on Monday, Dec. 27, which included approval of the nine upgrades. Congressional action was needed because time limits on the awards had expired.
The potential Medal of Honor recipients are:
The Battle of Mogadishu, which took place in October 1993, is well known as the basis of the book and movie Black Hawk Down. The fight was a 17-hour battle that erupted after a task force of Army Rangers and other special operations units found themselves trapped in the middle of the city, facing a local militia that numbered in the thousands.
Two soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in the fight. The Army upgraded 58 awards from the battle to Silver Stars this past fall. The four upgrades approved this week would be to the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest award for valor. The potential recipients are:
The final decision to award the Medals of Honor lies with Biden, while the Distinguished Service Cross awards will be decided by Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth.
Dustin Jones is a former senior staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine covering military and intelligence news. Jones served four years in the Marine Corps with tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. He studied journalism at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. He has worked as a reporter in Southwest Montana and at NPR. A New Hampshire native, Dustin currently resides in Southern California.
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