Just recently, I have met and interacted with several people who have traveled to our nation’s capital to be recognized for their service in a presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal. The reason I had the opportunity to meet these heroes is because of a book I wrote and published some time back that helped push our government into honoring these soldiers who fought with pride and devotion for a country that many believe they are not part of.
I will explain more on that further on in today’s post.
This post is about the Congressional Gold Medal and the military units throughout history who have been honored with this esteemed award.
What Is The Congressional Gold Medal?
While the highest military award that is given is the Medal of Honor, when we speak of civilian awards, the highest award that can be attained is the Congressional Gold Medal. It is awarded to persons who have made a major impact on American culture and history that will be recognized long after the achievement.
The Congressional Gold Medal has been issued since the American Revolution. The first Congressional Gold Medal awarded was in 1776 to General George Washington.
Each Congressional Gold Medal is custom designed reflecting the person or group that is being honored.
There have been many individuals awarded this highest civilian achievement, and in today’s post, I am going to tell you each and every military unit that has been honored with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Byrd Antarctic Expedition
On May 23rd, 1930, Congress approved the Congressional Gold Medal for 65 officers and men who were a part of the Rear Admiral Richard Byrd 1st Antarctic Expedition. Another cool fact about this was a Boy Scout who had recently became an Eagle Scout tagged along on this and further Antarctic expeditions. His name was Paul Siple.
United States Antarctic Service Expedition
This was considered the Byrd 3rd Expedition. It also gained the award of the Congressional Gold Medal. The work the men made in studies of many scientific areas were highly successful. Because of looming war threats, the men had to evacuate in a hurry.
Surviving Veterans Of The American Civil War
On July 18th, 1956, Congress approved the Congressional Gold Medal be given to the 4 living survivors of the American Civil War.
Navajo Code Talkers
During World War II, these Navajo Indians used their native language to create an unbreakable code that greatly benefited the United States military. On December 21st, 2000, Congress approved the Congressional Gold Medal for the 29 original Navajo Code Talkers or surviving family members.
It is said that if not for these Code Talkers, the Marines would never had taken Iwo Jima.
They were the first African-American aviators in the U.S. Armed Forces. Because of their service and bravery, desegregation of the U.S. Military began. They showed exemplary bravery escorting bomber pilots during World War II. Altogether, 994 Tuskegee Airmen were honored and that single Gold Medal is in the Smithsonian Institution.
Native American Code Talkers
Congress realized that the Navajo Code Talkers were not the only Native Americans that should be recognized. On October 15th, 2008, all Native Americans who had been code talkers in World Wars I and II were honored with Congressional Gold Medals. Tribes consisted of:
On July 1st, 2009, Congress approved Women Airforce Service Pilots the Congressional Gold Medal award. A single medal was made which is in the Smithsonian Institution. These women helped win the war.
Even though we were at war against Japan, there were Japanese Americans who stood honorably with the U.S. They were Nisei soldiers. On October 8th, 2010, these soldiers were recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal. It will be on display at the Smithsonian. The units were:
Montford Point Marines
On November 23rd, 2011, the Montford Point Marines were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. These were the first African Americans trained at Camp Montford Point in North Carolina as United States Marines.
First Special Service Force
During World War II, they fought with valor and were called The Devil’s Brigade. These were commandos of both American and Canadian heritage. They were approved for the Congressional Gold Medal on July 12th, 2013. It is estimated there were 1,400 members of this elite unit.
The Doolittle Raiders
Flying Aces of America
This, along with the previous award were authorized on May 23rd, 2014. It was to recognize all ace fighter pilots in American history.
Civil Air Patrol
On May 30th, 2014, the Congressional Gold Medal was approved to recognize all 200,000+ members of the Civil Air Patrol during World War II.
The 65th Infantry Regiment
Approved on June 10th, 2014, this is the unit I spoke of in the start of this article. This is a Puerto Rican unit that has fought bravely through many conflicts, with the biggest recognition coming from the Korean War. Nicknamed the Borinqueneers, those who are still alive just recently flew to Washington D.C. to be honored by Congress on April 13th, 2016.
I live in Puerto Rico and have had the honor of meeting some of these men. I also wrote a book that I have been told helped to push Congress to authorize the Gold Medal.
You can get either the color or black and white versions below. It is also on Kindle and Audio.
It is good that the United States Government recognizes all those who have changed our nation for the better. Everyone of these military units did exactly that. A special thanks to all those men and women who served.
Please add your comments below. Thank you.