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Medal of Honor recipients, African-American

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  • Charles L Thomas, 1LT (1920 - 1980)
    In the late 1980s, due that fact that no Medals of Honor were awarded to Black American soldiers in either of the World Wars, a review of Distinguished Service Cross awards was initiated to see if some...
  • Isaac Payne, Trumpeter (1854 - 1904)
    Isaac Payne (1854 – 1904) was a Black Seminole who served as a United States Army Indian Scout and received America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions...
  • Pompey Factor, PVT (1849 - 1928)
    Pompey Factor (1849 – 1928) was a Black Seminole who served as a United States Army Indian Scout and received America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actio...
  • Aaron Anderson, Landsman (USA) (1811 - 1886)
    Aaron Anderson or Sanderson (born 1811, date of death unknown) was a Union Navy sailor during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. He...
  • Bruce Anderson, Pvt. (USA) (1845 - 1922)
    Bruce Anderson (June 19, 1845 – August 22, 1922) was a Union Army soldier in the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions ...

The Medal of Honor was created during the American Civil War and is the highest military decoration presented by the United States government to a member of its armed forces. Recipients must have distinguished themselves at the risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States. Because of the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.


Of the 3,464 Medals of Honor awarded as of June 2009, 88 have been awarded to 87 different African American recipients. Robert Augustus Sweeney is one of nineteen men, and the only African American, to have been awarded two Medals of Honor.


A 1993 study commissioned by the Army investigated racial discrimination in the awarding of medals. At the time, no Medals of Honor had been awarded to black soldiers who served in World War II. After an exhaustive review of files, the study recommended that several black Distinguished Service Cross recipients be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. On January 13, 1997, President Bill Clinton awarded the Medal to seven African American World War II veterans; of these, only Vernon Baker was still alive