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Air Force Museum Foundation

Medal of Honor Awards in the Air Force


Note: This exhibit is located in Kettering Hall.

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for heroism in military action which this nation can bestow on a member of its Armed Forces. The first Medal of Honor won by an airman was awarded to Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker for aerial combat in 1918.

The Air Force designed Medal of Honor was created on April 14, 1965. This medal was first presented by the president on Jan. 19, 1967, to Maj. Bernard F. Fisher for action in South Vietnam.

Members of the Air Force and its predecessor organizations have earned four Medals of Honor in World War I, 38 in World War II, four in the Korean War, and an additional number in the Vietnam War. Two more were presented by special Acts of Congress.

The Medal of Honor is awarded for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.

The following airmen have received the Medal of Honor:

1st Lt. Edward V. Rickenbacker
2nd Lt. Frank Luke Jr.
1st Lt. Harold E. Goettler
2nd Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley
Brig. Gen. James H. Doolittle
Capt. Harl Pease Jr.
Lt. Col. Pierpont M. Hamilton
Col. Demas T. Craw
Brig. Gen. Kenneth N. Walker
1st Lt. Jack W. Mathis
Sgt. Maynard H. Smith
2nd Lt. Joseph R. Sarnoski
Maj. Jay Zeamer Jr.
2nd Lt. John C. Morgan
2nd Lt. Lloyd H. Hughes
Lt. Col. Addison E. Baker
Maj. John L. Jerstad
Col. Leon W. Johnson
Col. John R. Kane
Maj. Ralph Cheli
Col. Neel E. Kearby
Maj. Raymond H. Wilkins
Tech. Sgt. Forrest L. Vosler
Lt. Col. James H. Howard
Sgt. Archibald Mathies
2nd Lt. Walter E. Truemper
1st Lt. William R. Lawley Jr.
1st Lt. Edward S. Michael
Lt. Col. Leon R. Vance Jr.
2nd Lt. David R. Kingsley
1st Lt. Donald D. Pucket
Capt. Darrell R. Lindsey
Maj. Richard I. Bong
Maj. Horace S. Carswell Jr.
2nd Lt. Robert E. Femoyer
1st Lt. Donald J. Gott
2nd Lt. William E. Metzger Jr.
Brig. Gen. Frederick W. Castle
Maj. Thomas B. McGuire
Maj. William A. Shomo
Staff Sgt. Henry E. Erwin
1st Lt. Raymond L. Knight
Maj. Louis J. Sebille
Capt. John S. Walmsley Jr.
Maj. George A. Davis Jr.
Maj. Charles J. Loring Jr.
Maj. Bernard F. Fisher
Capt. Hilliard A. Wilbanks
Maj. Merlyn H. Dethlefsen
Lt. Col. Leo K. Thorsness
Capt. Gerald O. Young
Lt. Col. Joe M. Jackson
Lt. Col. William A. Jones III
Capt. James P. Fleming
Sgt. John L. Levitow
Capt. Steven L. Bennett
Col. George E. Day
Capt. Lance P. Sijan
Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger
Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etcherger


In addition to those Air Force flyers who have received the Medal of Honor for exceptional bravery in aerial combat, four other have received similar noncombatant recognition.

Capt. Charles A. Lindbergh
Brig. Gen. William Mitchell
Brig. Gen. Charles E. Yeager
Lt. Gen. Ira C. Eaker

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