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. The recipient 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. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.
Of the 3,464 Medals of Honor awarded as of September 17, 2009, 31 have been awarded to Asian American recipients. The first Asian American to receive the Medal was José B. Nísperos, who received it for his actions in the Philippine–American War.
In 1996, a study determined that Asian Americans were discriminated against in the awarding of medals during World War II; consequently, 22 had their medals upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Except for those awarded during the 1996 discrimination study the most recent Asian American recipient of the Medal of Honor was Rodney Yano, who received it for his actions during the Vietnam War