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United States of America's Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and their official citations.

United States of America's Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and their official citations. 4th Edition, 2002, Highland House II, Columbia Heights, MN, ISBN 0 9644590 3 5, $A62.46 (incl p&p)

In 1949, the Department of Army, and in 1950, the Department of the Navy, published separate books on the United States Medal of Honor. In 1964 the United States Senate issued a consolidated version including late World War 2 awards, Korean War awards and the awards for the unknown servicemen of World War 2 and Korea. The 1973 and 1979 editions included Vietnam War awards.

In 1980 Highland Publishers reissued the Senate print. Although nearly identical to the 1979 Senate edition the Highland version had a hard cover as well as being better bound which is the reason this reviewer has used it in preference to the Senate version for the last 20 years. In November 2003 a friend showed me a copy of the fourth version and I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon. It arrived two weeks later.

Neither Gulf War produced new Medal of Honour recipients but 44 Medals of Honor were issued between 1980 and 2002. Two posthumous awards were issued for Somalia in 1993 and 42 awards were awarded for previous conflicts, mainly WW2. Most of the new awards were Army Distinguished Service Cross awards upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Unlike the Victoria Cross, the Medal of Honor has a tradition of making belated awards often years after the action being commended. While I believe these late awards merit the Medal of Honor I have not changed my opinion on late awards in the imperial honours system.

Between the 1980 and 2002 editions birth and service details of many entries have been upgraded but imagine my disappointment to find the birth place of Wounded Knee recipient Private Mathew H Hamilton amended from 'Australia' to 'Hobart, Austria-Hungry'! Opposite the title page of the 1980 edition is a quote from poet Joyce Kilmer who was killed in action in 1918. The fourth edition adds that Kilmer was the recipient of the French Croix de Guerre. However the Croix de Guerre represents being mentioned in dispatches and is not, as stated, the French version of the Medal of Honor.

I had to search for the citation for Major-General Greely which had been moved from the one chapter to another. Greely's citation only mentions his Army service from 1861 to 1906. However, Greely was famous during his lifetime for leading the American 1881-1884 expedition to Smith Sound to set up a meteorological station. One of his team, 396 miles from the North Pole, was the nearest to this time but the relief ship failed to arrive in 1883 and by the time a rescue was mounted in 1884 just 6 of the 25 man party survived.

The table listing the number of Medals of Honor awarded by wars and campaigns now has a totals column for each campaign as well as each service. Unfortunately not all the totals add up but it manages to get the correct total of 3440 recipients of whom 19 were awarded two awards. Some additional notes could explain how the table was constructed. For instance Gunnery Sergeant Fred W Stockham USMC was one of six marines awarded the Army Medal of Honor in WWI but unlike the other five marines he was not also awarded the Navy Medal of Honor for the same act of valour. Stockham's Army award is counted in the WWI USMC total whereas the five other marines are counted twice being listed in both the Army and USMC totals.

Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients continues the fine American tradition of printing official citations in a separate one-volume work. Although all the citations can be downloaded from a number of websites there will always be a demand for a printed version carrying on President Harry Truman's call to the Army and Navy in 1946 to produce works on the Medal of Honor. However could the fifth edition please correct the error that has been in every version since 1949? The date of the action for the first of two Medals of Honor awarded to 2Lt Thomas W Custer (killed in action serving with his famous brother in 1876) was 2 April 1865 not 10 May 1863. The 1904 Army Medal of Honor List confirms 2 April 1865 as the correct date.
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Author:Staunton, Anthony
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2004
Previous Article:Peter Cochrane. The Western Front 1916-1918.
Next Article:James Hugh Donohoe. The British Army in Australia, 1788-1870, Index of personnel, 1996.

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