Sunday, August 28, 2016

Medals of Honor — fathers and sons

Arthur MacArthur, Jr.
Arthur MacArthur, Jr., and his son, Douglas MacArthur, became the first father and son Medal of Honor recipients. Arthur MacArthur, 19-year-old first lieutenant of the 24th Wisconsin Infantry in the American Civil War, was awarded the Medal for actions in the Battle of Missionary Ridge, east of Chattanooga. In the stunning Union assault on November 25, 1863, MacArthur led his men with a shout of "On Wisconsin," and planted the regimental colors atop the ridge.

General Douglas MacArthur, 1940s,
by John Florea, Life Photo Collection
Douglas, 62-years-old when he was awarded the Medal, may be the oldest recipient. George Marshall penned his citation which read, in part:

"For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest. . . . He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces.” 

"Eisenhower pointed out that MacArthur had not actually performed any acts of valor as required by law, but Marshall cited the 1927 award of the medal to Charles Lindbergh as a precedent" [Wikipedia].

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
The next father and son recipients were President Theodore Roosevelt and his son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. While junior received the award posthumously for valor at Utah Beach, Normandy, in June, 1944 (Roosevelt died of a heart attack just over a month after D-Day), it wasn’t until 2001 that Teddy Roosevelt (likewise posthumously) received the award for actions at San Juan Hill in 1898. Read a fascinating four-part article on Roosevelt’s persistent efforts to receive the award here (note: the article was written a few years before 2001).

Teddy Roosevelt
Library of Congress

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