Double Medal of Honor Winners

Instructor: Eve Levinson

Eve has taught various courses of high school history and has a master's degree in education.

Between the Civil War and World War I, nineteen individuals received two Medals of Honor in recognition of their heroic actions or valor in battle against enemy forces. This lesson will list these honored individuals and their feats.

Fight or Flight

Can you imagine being in the midst of battle, with bullets whizzing past and bombs exploding nearby? Does that inspire fear or bravery in you? For many, fighting in a war means following orders so you and others don't die. But for a smaller number of courageous individuals, they are able to put fear aside to potentially sacrifice themselves to make an impact for their brothers in arms.

The Medal of Honor recognizes those, especially its double recipients, who have given their most distinguished service to the military. Let's talk more about these double recipients

Medal of Honor

The United States Armed Services award the Medal of Honor as the highest recognition for an individual who has acted with bravery when faced with the enemy. Created in 1861 as a way to commend members of the Navy, the original award was named the Medal of Valor.

A year later, another Congressman submitted a bill to create a similar acknowledgment for members of the Army that became the Medal of Honor. Since its inception, the President and Congress have awarded around 3,500 Medals of Honor.

1862-1895 Army Medal of Honor
1862-1895 Army Medal of Honor

Double Recipients

The laws governing who was an eligible recipient of the Medal of Honor allowed for 19 heroic individuals to be honored twice, though these laws have since changed all but halting modern double awards.

  • Five members of the Marine Corps received both the Army and Navy Medals for the same action, all in World War I.
  • Seven individuals received two Medals for different actions during the same conflict.
  • The final seven of the group received their Medals during different wars or periods.

The first double recipient was 2nd Lt Thomas Ward Custer during the Civil War. In both of his actions, he captured the Confederate battle flag, which was not only a symbol of honor for the side, but also signaled troop movements on the battlefield. Custer eventually died alongside his brother, Lt. Col. George A. Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

For those whose double honor occurred during World War I, they received their two medals for the same action. This was permitted because the individuals were members of one branch while their actions of valor occurred under the authority of another branch.

List of Double Award Recipients

The following are the double recipients of the Medal of Honor, in alphabetical order, along with the event and action cited in the award.

Frank D. Baldwin - Civil War, Indian Wars (for leading a charge; for rescuing Indian captives)

Smedley Darlington Butler - Veracruz, Haiti (for distinguished conduct in battle; for conspicuous bravery in crushing the Caco rebels)

John Cooper - Civil War (for battle on the U.S.S. Brooklyn; for rescuing a man from a fire)

Louis Cukela - World War I (for single-handedly destroying a German strong point amid fire in the woods, capturing both men and guns)

Thomas W. Custer - Civil War (for twice seizing enemy flags)

Daniel Joseph Daly - Boxer Rebellion, Haiti (for meritorious conduct; for maintaining position and scattering the enemy against heavy odds)

Charles F. Hoffman (aka Ernest Janson) - World War I (for charging an enemy group killing two leaders, who otherwise would have taken the hill upon which Hoffman's group had just arrived)

Henry Hogan - Indian Wars (for bravery; for rescuing a wounded man and taking him off the battle field)

John Joseph Kelly - World War I (for single-handedly invading a machine gun nest and bringing back eight prisoners)

John King - Peacetime (for heroism in two separate incidents of boiler explosions on a ship)

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