By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 28, 2013 – The names of Medal of Honor recipients recognized for their battlefield valor before Sept. 11, 2001, now are listed on the Defense Department’s valor website, Pentagon officials announced today.
“Recognizing our brave men and women for their heroic actions is one of the most important things we can do as a department,” said Vee Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy.
“Our service members have shown great courage and sacrifice on the battlefield throughout our nation’s history, and it is fitting that we honor their sacrifice and courage. Expanding this site is one small way to do that,” she added.
The website, at http://valor.defense.gov, lists the name, rank and conflict of recipients of the most prestigious U.S. military awards for valor: the Medal of Honor, Service Crosses and Silver Star Medals.
The site was designed to raise awareness of service members’ heroism and to help deter those who falsely claim military honors, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman.
“Our service members earn their medals with hard work and tremendous sacrifice,” he said. “While lying about these medals may not be illegal, it is shameful and runs counter to the military’s moral and ethical values.”
Officials plan to complete a similar expansion of the Service Cross lists by March 31, Christensen said.
Once complete, the site will list recipients of the Medal of Honor and Service Crosses by service and conflict, dating back to the inception of each medal, as well as Silver Star recipients since Sept. 11, 2001.
For security, privacy and administrative reasons, most, but not all recipients of the valor awards will be named on the website, Christensen said. The absence of an individual’s name from the list is not a declaration by the Defense Department that the individual did not receive the medal.
In addition, Christensen said, the Defense Department and military services still are examining the feasibility of listing recipients of the Silver Star Medal for actions before Sept. 11, 2001.
“Unlike Medal of Honor and Service Cross data, Silver Star Medal data is not readily available, and obtaining information on pre-9/11 Silver Star Medal recipients will likely be much more difficult, costly and time-consuming,” Christensen said.
Silver Star award authority often was delegated below the service headquarters, he explained, and award documents did not always make it into a service member’s military personnel record or reach higher headquarters.
Also, many more service members have earned the Silver Star than have earned the Medal of Honor and or Service Crosses, Christensen said, noting the Silver Star’s lower place in the order of precedence for military decorations.
Finally, he said, historians and others have done extensive research on Medal of Honor and Service Cross recipients, creating a large body of existing knowledge. This is not the case for Silver Star recipients, he added.