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Most Decorated




It is not unusual to hear local historians ascribe "more" and "most" attributes to their local heroes. My hometown of Pueblo calls itself the "Home Of Heroes" for until 2000 it was the only city in America with four living MOH recipients. Sometimes this gets revised to say "most per capita", when it fact, the small town of Noonan, GA (population little more than 1,000) produced two Medal of Honor Recipients during the Vietnam War: Joe Jackson and Stephen Pless. Then again, the small town of Leeds, Alabama, has lain its own claim to fame for being the hometown of Bill Lawley, Alford McLaughlin, and Henry Erwin.

Even more subject to arguable claims is the "most" factor. Audie Murphy is often remembered as the "most decorated soldier of WWII," yet Holland, MI, hometown of Matt Urban is quick to claim when Urban received a belated Medal of Honor from President Carter, this hometown hero became the most decorated.

Recently I did the following comparison when someone emailed me on this issue:

In terms of sheer numbers, Audie Murphy had 29 combat awards and unit citations, Matt Urban had 28. Also, Audie Murphy received the DSC, second only to the MOH, Matt Urban did not. Both men received two Silver Stars and the Legion of Merit. Matt received 3 Bronze Stars to Murphy's 2, and 7 Purple Hearts to Murphy's 3. So Matt Urban in terms of sheer numbers, exceeded Murphy's count of these awards by 4 Purple Hearts and 1 Bronze Star. Audie Murphy could lay claim to all four of the Army's top awards for valor, Matt Urban to only 3 of those four.  Below is a comparison of the two men's awards, minus the marksmanship badges.

Matt Urban

Audie Murphy

Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor


Distinguished Service Cross

Silver Star with one oak leaf cluster

Silver Star with One Oak Leaf Cluster

Legion of Merit

Legion of Merit

Bronze Star Medal with "V", 2 OLC

Bronze Star Medal with "V", 1OLC

Purple Heart with 6 OLC

Purple Heart with 2 OLC

American Defense Service Medal

U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal


Good Conduct Medal

Presidential Unit Citation

Presidential Unit Citation with First Oak Leaf Cluster

American Campaign Medal

EAME Campaign Medal/6 stars

EAME Campaign Medal/9 stars

World War II Victory Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Combat Infantryman Badge

Combat Infantry Badge


French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre


French Legion of Honor, Grade of Chevalier

Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star (individual)

French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star

Croix de Guerre (unit award)

French Croix de Guerre with Palm

Belgian Fourragere (unit award)

Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm

All of that aside, the issue can become far more complicated. There is a vast difference between "MOST decorated" and "MOST HIGHLY decorated." A good soldier who has never seen combat but completed many tours of duty over a career might acquire a goodly number of decorations. On the other hand, a soldier such at Arkansas' Maurice Britt who only earned a few awards, ranks among the "Most Highly Decorated" due the fact that he received EVERY ONE of the Army's top awards for Valor including the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Bronze Star.

Any record, no matter how impressive, would be hard to match up against the array of awards amassed by Vietnam War Special Forces hero Colonel Robert L. Howard who earned EVERY award for valor in the Army's Pyramid of Honor including the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, 3 Legion of Merit, 4 Bronze Stars, and a record EIGHT Purple Hearts, the latter matched only by fellow MOH recipient Ronnie Joe Hooper, David Hackworth (who also earned 2 DSCs and a record 10 Silver Stars), Robert Frederick, and Richard Buck.

Frankly, I'm not upset or offended by any community that tends to present the facts in such a way that they highlight hometown heroes. I'm thankful that those hometowns are justly proud of their local heroes. So, to throw a little more confusion on the "Most Highly Decorated" puzzle, below are some interesting examples of America's GREATEST WARRIORS. 


With two Medals of Honor and the Brevet Medal, man is the closet any person has ever come to being a TRIPLE MOH Recipient. (The briefly issued Brevet Medal was considered on par with the MOH.) 

 Your Answer

  1. Smedley Butler
  2. Dan Daly
  3. John Duncan Bulkeley
  4. Thomas Custer
  5. Chesty Puller

With two Medals of Honor plus the Navy Cross and the Army Distinguished Service Cross, this 5'6", 132 pound pint-size warrior edges out John McCloy, the only other of the 19 double recipients to receive a second level award (Navy Cross).

Your Answer

  1. Douglas MacArthur
  2. Jimmy Doolittle
  3. Dan Daly
  4. Eddie Rickenbacker
  5. Robert L. Howard

An unprecedented and unequalled SEVEN awards of the Distinguished Service Cross, PLUS the Medal of Honor, makes this hero stand out as the recipient of EIGHT awards of the top two levels of the Pyramid of Honor.

Your Answer

  1. Douglas MacArthur
  2. Jimmy Doolittle
  3. Dan Daly
  4. Eddie Rickenbacker
  5. Robert L. Howard


Each of the following received FOUR Navy Crosses in World War II, but only TWO of them earned a Medal of Honor in addition. Can you identify these two men?

Your Answer

  1. Eugene Fluckey & Glynn R. Donahoe
  2. Dudley Mush Morton & Eugene Fluckey
  3. Slade D. Cutter & Dudly Mush Morton
  4. Samuel Dealey & Eugene Fluckey
  5. Harold Mazza & Anton Renkl Gallaher

The Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, TWO Distinguished Service Crosses, Distinguished Service Medal, and TWO Silver Stars, all for heroism in a single war, certainly makes this hero stand out. In addition to these he also received TWO Legion of Merit awards, France's highest award the Croix de Guerre, and multiple other awards.

Your Answer

  1. Eugene Fluckey
  2. John Duncan Bulkeley
  3. Samuel Dealey
  4. Dan Daly
  5. Smedley Butler

Your score is:

After Grading Your Quiz
You can correct your WRONG answers to find your mistakes.


For Even More Interesting Information
on America's Most Decorated Visit



Quizzes from the past:

September 1, 2002
Medals Of Honor In Common

September 15, 2002
POW/MIA Questions

October 1, 2002
Pledge of Allegiance

November 15, 2002
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Copyright 1999-2014 by
     2115 West 13th Street - Pueblo, CO 81003

Unless otherwise noted, all materials by C. Douglas Sterner

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