The Vietnam War, (also known as the Second Indochina War, Vietnam Conflict, and in Vietnam as the American War), took place from 1959 to April 30, 1975. The war was fought between the Communist-supported Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States-supported Republic of Vietnam. It concluded with the defeat and failure of the United States foreign policy in Vietnam.
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 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. Due to the nature of this medal, it is commonly presented posthumously.
During the Vietnam War, 246 Medals of Honor were received, 154 of them posthumously. Soldiers of the Army received the most with 160, followed by 57 to the Marines, 16 to the Navy and the remaining 13 to the Air Force. The first medal of the war was presented to Roger Donlon for rescuing and administering first aid to several wounded soldiers and leading a group against an enemy force. The first African American recipient of the war was Milton L. Olive, III who sacrificed himself to save others by smothering a grenade with his body. Riley L. Pitts was killed after attacking an enemy force with rifle fire and grenades and was the first African American commissioned officer of the war to receive the medal. Thomas Bennett was a conscientious objector who received the medal for his actions as a medic; three chaplains received the medal, including Vincent R. Capodanno, who served with the Marine Corps and was known as the Grunt padre