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Medal of Honor recipients, African-American

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  • 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...
  • 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 in the Indian Wars o...
  • 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 actions in the Indian Wars...
  • Adam Paine, PVT (1843 - 1877)
    Adam Paine (1843 – 1877) 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 in the Indian Wars of...
  • John Robert Fox, 1LT (1915 - 1944)
    John Robert Fox (May 18, 1915–December 26, 1944) was killed in action when he deliberately called for artillery fire on his own position, after his position was overrun, in order to defeat a German att...

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