Who is the most highly decorated soldier in US history?
Audie Murphy, from Texas, served as a infantryman in WW-2 was
the MOST highly decorated soldier in US Army history.
He also won several medals from different countries.
According to the Total Army Personnel Command in Alexandria, VA,
Matt Urban of Michigan was awarded 29 medals, as many as Audie
Murphy, for his service in WW2.Urban's Medal of Honor
recommendation was somehow lost in the shuffle, so he did not
receive his MOH until the late 70s. His other medals included: 7
Purple Hearts, Legion of Merit, Croix de Guerre with a Silver Star,
Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster. Perhaps if Urban received
the MOH when he should have, he would be as famous as Audie
Although COL David Hackworth earned over 100 medals, he was
embarrassed to wear them all. General Douglas MacArthur is
considered by many to be America's most decorated soldier.
He was the only soldier to be a general officer in three
different wars, WWI,WWII and Korea. He was the youngest Chief of
Staff and the only American General to become Field Marshal of a
foreign country, the Philippines. He was nominated for 3 Medals of
Honor and awarded one. His records at West Point were not broken
until Pete Dawkins exceeded them in the late 50s. Fifty years of
service gave him an extensive collection of recognition.
The question is who is the most HIGHLY decorated, not the most
decorated. The automatic answer of Audie Murphy, or even the lesser
known Matt Urban really can not do justice to the question. So many
lesser known but equal or greater names are out there to be
explored. A few who spring to mind are Eugene Fluckey, MOH and 4
awards of the Navy Cross, Samuel Dealey, MOH and 4 awards of the
Navy Cross. Everyone knows that 5 awards of this caliber is a lot
more impressive than 29 medals which count purple hearts, campaign
medals and good conduct medals, in other words 27 of the medals
rank below the decorations for valor.
What are the criteria for "most HIGHLY" decorated? Major General
Smedley Butler of USMC was awarded not one, but two Medals of
Honor. Has anyone else been awared the Medal of Honor twice or
Actually, 19 soldiers have been awarded the medal of honor
Real answer is Captain Joe Ronnie Hooper, one Medal of Honor, 2
Silver stars, 6 Bronze stars and 8 Purple hearts. Look him up.
ANSWER COL Robert L Howard
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Cross (2 awards)
Silver Star, Bronze Star for Valor, 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster (4
Purple Heart 7th Oak Leaf Cluster (8 awards)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster (4 awards)
Air Medal for Valor, 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster (3 awards)
Army Commendation Medal for Valor, 3rd Oak Leaf Cluster (4
award) there are more, but these are just a few. I would say that
he has got them all beat. Look at the fact that he was recommended
for the medal of honor on three separate occasions but they were
downgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross due to the secret
nature of his missions at that time. As for MG Smedley Butler not
to take away from him because he is a damn fine American and a
hero. The US Congress in 1917 ruled that no one could receive more
than one Medal of honor so later Soldiers and Marines may have done
things to win them but they could only get one. Its like comparing
apples to oranges its just not the same. So far I have looked them
all up and I think that if you are talking highest decorations for
valor then COL Howard has them all hands down. If any one can show
me someone with more then please do. The other amazing fact is that
Col Howard is still alive and visits Soldiers in current War Zones
that is very impressive to me. He is a true warrior and hero.
Lt. Gen. Lewis B. (Chesty) Puller
As was stated above it is very difficult to truly say who is the
most decorated soldier of all time. Standards change over time, and
with each branch having their own standards we can never say who
truly is THE MOST DECORATED.
Now having said that we must take a serious look a Gen. Chesty
Puller. He was the recipient of the nations 2nd highest award six
times. Speculation was always that if he had been more politically
correct he would have surely been awarded the MoH. Along with 5
Navy Crosses and the Distinguished Service Cross he also has the
Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and two Legion of Merit awards along
with 43 other awards.
See the Related Links for "Home of Heroes" and "Audie Murphy" to
the left for additional information.
The most decorated soldier per month served in combat area has
got to be John Kerry. He received 5 medals in four months of
service in Vietnam, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and three Purple
Hearts. Some nagging questions persist about their attainment.
Like others, I don't know how you decide who was "Most"
decorated. I do know that my friend MSGT Roy P. Benavidez, a
Special Forces Medic, had over 25 medals, including several Purple
Hearts; and his citation for the Medal of Honor was the longest one
ever written. He was wounded a total of over 50 times the day he
earned the MOH including schrapnel, three bullets and one bayonet
wound to his left forearm. He also saved 19 wounded soldiers -
including three of the enemy.
When President Ronald Reagan read the citation at the White
House ceremony for the MOH, Reagan cried and hugged Roy instead of
saluting him. Roy is certainly my greatest hero. I am also
surprised nobody mentioned Alvin York in this discussion.
General James "Jimmy" Doolittle
Medal of Honor
Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross (3)
Air Medal (4)
And.. The Medal of Freedom. The ONLY person to receive both.
see : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Doolittle
The World War I Soldier interred at the Tomb of the Unknown
This soldier, "known but to God," has been awarded every
citation from every branch of the service. Plus the Victoria Cross
(Great Britain's "Medal of Honor"), the Croix d Guerre (France's
"Medal of Honor"), and numerous other foreign medals. If you have
never been there, I urge you to see it. There is an enormous
display of just the medals and awards presented to the soldier.
I think it would be impossible to say matter of factly who the
most highly decorated soldier ever was but think of it like this:
regardless of how many medals for valor a person has, what is the
highest: the medal of honor. Being an enlisted man in the Army, the
thought of having generals salute me is quite outstanding; the
salute being rendered to enlisted soldier by an officer being
something that comes with the MOH. That being said, I would rather
have ONE medal of honor, than 5 Navy Crosses and a Distinnguished
Service Cross (that would be LG "Chesty" Puller, of the USMC). So,
I would IMMEDIATELY disqualify ANYONE who does not possess this
award. The next thing I would look at is the number of MOHs
possessed by the individual. So, since no one has ever been awarded
the MOH three times, we narrow the list to 19. But I think we
should take into account that 5 of these 19 received BOTH of their
MOHs for the same action; they were awarded the Navy and Army MOH
due to their relation to both services. 7 of the remaining 14
received at least one of these awards for peacetime action. An
example of which is Robert Sweeney who received BOTH of his MOHs
for jumping overboard to rescue a fellow sailor. Today, he would
have been merely awarded a Soldier's Medal, which is trumped by 8
medals. So, that leaves us with 7 people I would count in the
running for the most highly decorated soldier (I am obviously
including, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen as well).
So, of the remaining 7 men who has more secondary decorations?
My vote would HAVE to go to MG Smedley Butler. He is one of 19 men
to reciecve the MOH twice. He is one of 14 men to receive the MOH
twice for two separate actions. He is one of 7 men to receive the
MOH twice for two separate actions, both of which were for combat
actions. He is one of 23 men to receive the Marine Corps Brevit
Medal, which is similar to the Navy Cross. He is one of three men
to receive the MOH and the MCBM. He is the ONLY person to receive
the MOH twice AND a MCBM. He has been awarded the Navy
Distinguished Service Medal, which is trumped by only three medals.
The Army Distinguished Service Medal, which is the Army equivalent
to the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. MG Butler is lacking the
lower medals that many other well decorated soldiers have been
awarded i.e. LTG Puller, 1LT Murphy, or GEN Doolittle; however, I
would rather his top five medals, and those alone, than the entire
set of awards than any other soldier has ever held.
The mere mention that a soldier who has never received the MOH
is the most decorated soldier of all time is laughable. Fear not
Marines. Though I believe your over-rated Chesty is not even close
to being the most decorated soldier ever, I still have no doubt
that a Marine still holds this honor.
Now, all this being said, I am not trying to take anything away
from any of these men. Well, that's not completely true. I am a
little more than upset about Robert Sweeney being given ONE MOH,
let alone both of them. And the five men who received the award
twice for the same action. Also, I think Albert Weisbogel, Louis
Williams, John King, John Cooper, John Lafferty, and Patrick Mullen
should not have been awarded MOHs for peacetime actions. But I do
believe that all of these men have shown bravery beyond what most
are capable of showing.
Five Star General Henry H. Arnold, check him..