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Who is the most highly decorated soldier in US history?

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June 10, 2014 5:52PM

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


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)

Silver Star

Distinguished Flying Cross (3)

Air Medal (4)

And.. The Medal of Freedom. The ONLY person to receive both.

see :

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..

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