African Americans make up 2 percent of all Medal of Honor recipients — here are their names

Elizabeth Howe
February 18, 2020 - 11:05 am
African American Medal of Honor Recipients

US Army, VA, Library of Congress, National Park Service, US Navy

Out of the more than 3,500 service members who have received the nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor, only 90 have been African Americans — and they have spanned every conflict from the Civil War to the Vietnam War. 

 

CIVIL WAR

Sergeant William Harvey Carney — U.S. Army | July 18, 1863

Carney

"When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded." 

Landsman Aaron Sanderson — U.S. Navy, USS Wyandank | March 17, 1865

Private Bruce Anderson — U.S. Army | January 15, 1865

Private William H. Barnes — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

First Sergeant Powhatan Beaty — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Beaty

"Took command of his company, all the officers having been killed or wounded, and gallantly led it."

First Sergeant James Bronson — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Landsman William H. Brown — U.S. Navy | August 5, 1864

Landsman Wilson Brown — U.S. Navy, USS Hartford | August 5, 1864

Sergeant Decatur Dorsey — U.S. Army | July 30, 1864

Sergeant Major Christian A. Fleetwood — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Fleetwood

"Seized the colors, after 2 color bearers had been shot down, and bore them nobly through the fight."

Private James Gardiner — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Sergeant James Harris — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Sergeant Major Thomas Hawkins — U.S. Army | July 21, 1864

Sergeant Alfred Hilton — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Sergeant Major Milton Holland — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Corporal Miles James — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

First Sergeant Alexander Kelly — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Landsman John Lawson — U.S. Navy, USS Hartford | August 5, 1864

Engineer’s Cook James Mifflin — U.S. Navy, USS Brooklyn | August 5, 1864

Robert Blake — U.S. Navy, USS Marblehead | December 25, 1863

Blake

"On board the U.S. Steam Gunboat Marblehead off Legareville, Stono River, 25 December 1863, in an engagement with the enemy on John's Island. Serving the rifle gun, Blake, an escaped slave, carried out his duties bravely throughout the engagement which resulted in the enemy's abandonment of positions, leaving a caisson and one gun behind."

Seaman Joachim Pease — U.S. Navy, USS Kearsarge | June 19, 1864

First Sergeant Robert Pinn — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

First Sergeant Edward Ratcliff — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

Corporal Andrew Jackson Smith — U.S. Army | November 30, 1864

Private Charles Veale — U.S. Army | September 29, 1864

 

INDIAN WAR CAMPAIGNS

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Sergeant Thomas Boyne — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | May 29, 1879, and September 27, 1879

Sergeant Benjamin Brown — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | May 11, 1889

Sergeant John Denny — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | September 18, 1879

Principal Musician Pompey Factor — U.S. Army | April 25, 1875

Corporal Clinton Greaves — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | January 24, 1877

Sergeant Henry Johnson — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | October 2-5, 1879

Sergeant George Jordan — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | May 14, 1880 and August 12, 1881

Corporal Isaiah Mays — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | May 11, 1889

Sergeant William McBryar — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | March 7, 1890

Private Adam Paine — U.S. Army | September 26-27, 1874

Trumpeter Isaac Payne — U.S. Army | April 25, 1875

Sergeant Thomas Shaw — U.S. Army | August 12, 1881

Sergeant Emanuel Stance — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | May 20, 1870

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Private Augustus Walley — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | August 16, 1881

Sergeant John Ward — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | April 25, 1875

First Sergeant Moses Williams — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | August 16, 1881

Corporal William Othello Wilson — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | December 30, 1890

Sergeant Brent Woods — U.S. Army, Buffalo Soldiers | August 19, 1881

 

SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR

Sergeant Major Edward Baker — U.S. Army | July 1, 1898

Private Dennis Bell — U.S. Army | June 30, 1898

Private Fitz Lee — U.S. Army | June 30, 1898

Fireman First Class Robert Penn — U.S. Navy | July 20, 1898

Private William Thompkins — U.S. Army | June 30, 1898

Private George Wanton — U.S. Army | June 30, 1898

 

WORLD WAR I

Corporal Freddie Stowers — U.S. Army | September 28, 1918

Private Henry Johnson — U.S. Army |  May 14, 1918

Johnson

"Private Henry Johnson distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving on May 15, 1918, during combat operations against the enemy on the front lines of the Western Front in France."

WORLD WAR II

First Lieutenant Vernon Baker (Right) — U.S. Army | April 5-6, 1945

Sasser and Baker

"For extraordinary heroism in action on 5 and 6 April 1945, near Viareggio, Italy."

First Lieutenant John Fox — U.S. Army | December 26, 1944

Private First Class Willy James — U.S. Army | April 7, 1945

Sergeant Ruben Rivers — U.S. Army | November 15-19, 1944

Lieutenant Charles Thomas — U.S. Army | December 14, 1944

Private George Watson — U.S. Army | March 8, 1943

Staff Sergeant Edward Carter — U.S. Army | March 23, 1945

Carter

"When the tank he was riding received heavy bazooka and small arms fire, Sgt. Carter voluntarily attempted to lead a three-man group across an open field...He was wounded five times and finally was forced to take cover. As eight enemy riflemen attempted to capture him, Sgt. Carter killed six of them and captured the remaining two." 

 

KOREAN WAR

Sergeant Cornelius Charlton — U.S. Army | June 2, 1951

Charlton

"Using grenades and machine-gun fire he led his men to fight back a group of enemy soldiers until he was killed."

Private First Class William Thompson — U.S. Army | August 6, 1950

 

VIETNAM WAR

Sergeant First Class Webster Anderson — U.S. Army | October 15, 1967

Sergeant First Class Eugene Ashley — U.S. Army | February 6-7, 1968

Sergeant First Class William Bryant — U.S. Army | March 24, 1969

Specialist Sixth Class Lawrence Joel — U.S. Army | November 8, 1965

Specialist Fifth Class Dwight Johnson — U.S. Army | January 15, 1968

Private First Class Garfield Langhorn — U.S. Army | January 15, 1969

Sergeant Matthew Leonard — U.S. Army | February 28, 1967

Sergeant Donald Long — U.S. Army | June 30, 1966

Staff Sergeant Melvin Morris — U.S. Army | Sept. 17, 1969

Private First Class Milton Olive — U.S. Army | October 22, 1965

Olive

"Pfc. Olive saw the grenade, and then saved the lives of his fellow soldiers at the sacrifice of his by grabbing the grenade in his hand and falling on it to absorb the blast with his body."

Captain Riley Pitts — U.S. Army | October 31, 1967

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Rogers — U.S. Army | November 1, 1968

First Lieutenant Ruppert Sargent — U.S. Army | March 15, 1967

Specialist Fifth Class Clarence E. Sasser (Left) — U.S. Army | January 10, 1968

Sasser

"Although in agonizing pain and faint from loss of blood, Sp5c. Sasser reached the man, treated him, and proceeded on to encourage another group of soldiers to crawl 200 meters to relative safety. There he attended their wounds for 5 hours until they were evacuated."

Staff Sergeant Clifford Sims — U.S. Army | February 21, 1968

First Lieutenant John Warren — U.S. Army | January 14, 1969

Private First Class James Anderson — U.S. Marine Corps | February 28, 1967

Private First Class Oscar Austin — U.S. Marine Corps | February 23, 1969

Gunnery Sergeant John Canley — U.S. Marine Corps | Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 1968

Canley

"By his undaunted courage, selfless sacrifice, and unwavering devotion to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Canley reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

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Sergeant Rodney Davis — U.S. Marine Corps | September 6, 1967

Private First Class Robert Jenkins — U.S. Marine Corps | March 5, 1969

Private First Class Ralph Johnson — U.S. Marine Corps | March 5, 1968

 

PEACETIME

Ordinary Seaman Robert Sweeney — U.S. Navy, USS Kearsarge, USS Jamestown | October 26, 1881 and December 20, 1883

Seaman John Smith — U.S. Navy, USS Shenandoah | September 19, 1880

Seaman Joseph Noil — U.S. Navy, USS Powhatan | December 26, 1872

Cooper William Johnson — U.S. Navy, USS Adams | November 14, 1879

Seaman John Johnson — U.S. Navy, USS Kansas | April 12, 1872

Seaman Alphonse Girandy — U.S. Navy, USS Petrel | March 31, 1901

Ordinary Seaman John Davis — U.S. Navy, USS Trenton | February 1881

Ship’s Cook First Class Daniel Atkins — U.S. Navy, USS Cushing | February 11, 1898

 

Photos courtesy of Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, Congresswoman Julia Brownley, Library of Congress

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