The Medal of Honor is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person in the armed services—it is awarded for personal acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. Three of the gentlemen listed on the following slides have each earned this distinguished award, including a fourth who was awarded a unique Congressional equivalent to the Medal of Honor for his contributions to the aerospace industry.
Photo credit: Andrew Lopez/Central Press/Getty Images
He was one of only five men ever to rise to the rank of General of the Army and the only man ever to become a field marshal in the Philippine Army. He was also the oldest person to be awarded the Medal of Honor—in 1942 at age 62—and was part of the first father-son duo to earn the award. This Colt Model 1903 semi-automatic pistol was given to Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.
Photo credit: US Marine Corps/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images
He was a World War II hero and, amazingly, that was just the beginning. He went on to serve as governor of South Dakota, became the first commissioner of the American Football League and was known to TV viewers as “The American Sportsman.” He was also a fiery leader of the NRA. This Colt Model 1911A1 semi-automatic pistol commemorates the illustrious career of 1943 Medal of Honor recipient Joseph “Joe” Foss.
He was a record-setting test pilot who became the first human to break the sound barrier in 1947. The combat ace downed 16 German aircraft during World War II, five in the same day. In 1975, he was awarded a Congressional silver medal—equivalent to a non-combat Medal of Honor—for his contributions to aerospace science. This engraved, gold-washed Beretta Model 1935 semi-automatic pistol was presented in 1950 to Brigadier General Charles Elwood “Chuck” Yeager by the Cuban Minister of Defense.
He declared the 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba as his finest moment. He would later go on to serve two terms as U.S. president and earned the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2001, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the only president to receive the distinguished award. Theodore Roosevelt took delivery of this Smith & Wesson New Model No. 3 revolver just prior to training his Rough Riders at San Antonio, Texas.