Top 10 Most Decorated U.S. Army Soldiers of All Time

If you were to ask the question of who the most decorated United States Army Soldiers of all time were, you would probably get a wide variety of answers.

Here at Part Time Commander, we are going to set the record straight. Today’s post is going to provide you with the top 10 most decorated U.S. Army Soldiers of all time. We will start with #10 and work all the way to the most decorated Soldier. Scroll down and see how many you recognize.

# 10 General James Alward Van Fleet 3/19/1892-9/23/1992.

General Van Fleet served as an officer in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Van Fleet was raised in Florida, and in 1911 he received an appointment to West Point. He was a prized fullback for the Army football team.

During World War I, Van Fleet was Battalion Commander under General John J. Pershing over the American Expeditionary Force. In 1923 and 1924, he was senior officer at the University of Florida’s ROTC program. While such, he was also head coach of the Gator’s football program. He led them to high rankings in college football.

During World War II, he commanded the 8th Infantry Regiment and led them through the D-Day landing on Utah Beach. Later, with promotions, he served under General Patton as Commander of III Corps.

General Van Fleet was awarded 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 4 Distinguished Service Medals, 3 Silver Stars, 3 Bronze Stars, 3 Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and a wide range of other awards.

Always think in terms of what the other person wants.”

James Van Fleet

# 9 Colonel Robert Lewis Howard 7/11/1939-12/23/2009.

I would have to say that many Vietcong feared this man.

Colonel Howard enlisted in the Army as a regular Soldier. He served in Vietnam as a Staff Sergeant of the Military Assistance Command Vietnam. This was a highly secret operation, and Howard probably should have received several more Medals of Honor, but because of the secrecy (and because you can only receive one), they were downgraded.

Colonel Howard was wounded numerous times during the Vietnam conflict. He kept fighting on. Howard also attained 2 Master’s degrees which allowed him to obtain officer status.

Colonel Howard was awarded the Medal of Honor, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 1 Silver Star, 4 Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and many other awards that would need a book to list.

# 8 Lieutenant General Henry Everett Emerson 5/28/1925-2/4/2015.

Lt General Emerson was known to many as gunfighter. Instead of the regulation M1911 pistol, he carried a revolver on his hip.

During Vietnam, Emerson was known to have tactics that could destroy the Vietcong. This was the only war he served in, but he did command the 2nd Infantry division in South Korea in the 1970’s.

LTG Emerson was awarded 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 5 Silver Stars, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts, and many other medals and awards.

# 7 Brigadier General Charles Edward Getz 8/1/1936-Date.

Excuse the term, but here is one Army Bad-ass. BG Getz served in many roles in Army service. He served in Vietnam for many years, but he also worked with many allies in other locations. In many cases, he worked with other Soldiers who did not speak English.

Brigadier General Getz also served in the C.I.A. and his awards are so numerous, I just cannot count them all. I will tell you that he has 1 Distinguished Service Cross, 6 Silver Stars, 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses for Valor, 5 Bronze Stars, 3 Purple Hearts, and a large batch of others.

# 6 Brigadier General John Thomas Corley 8/4/1914-4/16/1977.

Corley graduated from West Point in 1938 and soon was involved in the North African landing with the 1st Infantry Division. He earned many awards during World War II. His bravery helped sustain many other Soldiers.

General MacArthur personally requested Corley as Battalion Commander of the 24th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division during the Korean conflict. He earned more awards as he led African American troops into close combat.

Brigadier General Corley earned many awards including 2 Combat Infantryman Badges, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 8 Silver Stars, 1 Purple Heart and a wide range of others.

distinguished service cross# 5 Lieutenant General Thomas H. Tackaberry 9/6/1923-Date.

This highly decorated man enlisted in the Army Reserve in 1942. He was soon full Army and participated in World War II.

Other wars he was involved in were the Cold War, The Korean War and Vietnam. During all of these, Tackaberry showed his courage and strength to many other Soldiers.

Lieutenant General Tackaberry amassed a huge supply of awards including 2 Combat Infantryman Badges, 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 5 Silver Stars, a Soldier’s Medal, and many more. How we as able to wear all these awards amazes me.

# 4 Colonel Edward Vernon Rickenbacker 10/8/1890-7/23/1973.

Colonel Rickenbacker is quite well known for his fighter pilot expertise. He was a fighter pilot during World War I in the newly formed United States Army Air Forces.

Not long ago, I wrote an article all about Colonel Rickenbacker. You can read that article here.

Colonel Rickenbacker gained many awards in hid short time during World War I. Some of the most notable was the Medal of Honor, 9 Distinguished Service Crosses, the French Legion of Honor, and many more.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to die. The hardest is to live.”

Eddie Rickenbacker

# 3 Lieutenant General James Francis Hollingsworth 3/24/1918-3/2/2010.

LTG Hollingsworth was a highly respected General. He served in World War II, Korea, and in Vietnam.

General Hollingsworth had many critics in the way he seemed a bloodthirsty killer in Vietnam, but he understood the enemy and his primary goal was to keep Soldiers alive and kill enemies.

Lieutenant General James Hollingworth received many awards. They consisted of 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 4 Distinguished Service Medals, 4 Silver Stars, 3 Legions of Merit, 1 Soldier’s Medal, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and many more.

There is a statue at Texas A&M of this great patriot.

# 2 Colonel David Haskell Hackworth 11/11/1930-5/4/2005.

Colonel Hackworth actually had the push to become a general, but he was frustrated with Army leadership and decided to not attend War College.

Hackworth lied when he was 14 and joined the Merchant Marines toward the end of World War II, so essentially we could say he was involved in that war. He also lied to get in the Army, as he was still under age.

Colonel Hackworth received numerous awards for his service in both Korea and Vietnam. After his retirement from the Army, he became a highly controversial personality. He was an investigative journalist, and it was due to one of his claims of mis-wearing military awards that it is believed Admiral Mike Boorda committed suicide.

Colonel Hackworth earned a plethora of awards including 2 Combat Infantryman Badges, 2 Distinguished Service Crosses, 10 Silver Stars, 4 Legion of Merits, 8 Bronze Stars, 8 Purple Hearts, and many more.

We citizens don’t need to know every detail of every military operation in this new kind of war. Nor should the media tell us and hence our enemy.”

David Hackworth

# 1 General Of The Army, Douglas MacArthur 1/26/1880-4/5/1964.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the great 5 star General also is the most decorated Army Soldier of all time.

He served in the Mexican Revolution, World War I, World War II, and in Korea. His leadership is legendary and he deserved every award he ever earned and many more.

Just a few of the awards General MacArthur earned were the Medal of Honor, 3 Distinguished Service Crosses, 5 Distinguished Service Medals, 1 Navy Distinguished Service Medal, 7 Silver Stars, 1 Bronze Star, 2 Purple Hearts, and a whole slew of others.

medal of honorYes General MacArthur was the top award winner, and it will be very difficult for anyone to surpass him.

Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul!”

General Douglas MacArthur

Final Thoughts

I know that many are really wondering about this list. So many say that Audie Murphy is the medal leader, and he didn’t make this list. We were talking about all time award winners. Audie just primarily received medals from World War II.

What are your thoughts; opinions? Please share in the comments section below.

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7 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Decorated U.S. Army Soldiers of All Time”

  1. How dare you omit Audie Murphy, isn’t 38 medals earned under fire enough to get your attention, all won before his 20th birthday, & only 19 when he climbed aboard a burning tank destroyer and began firing it’s 50caliber machine gun at the advancing Germans. And despite being wounded, he continued on for an hour, killing or wounding 50 Germans, and stopped only after he ran out of ammunition. . . Being that you over look the most celebrated, I must consider you bias. Ergo, I shall never again will I watch one of your videos. Why did he enlist, to help feed his siblings after his mother died. He became an actor for the same reason. One the saddest aspects is that his country abandoned him, not only after the war (WWII) but again when he died. Only 45, he received a scant 3 minutes of time on the news. Fortunately there’s people like me who honor him for not only his courage on the battle field, but are also well entertained by his movies; his real life courage & marksmanship give a sense of realism to his characters.

  2. I met General Tackaberry when I was stationed at Fort Bragg in the late 70’s. Because of the job I had I saw him on a regular basis. During the ceremony he gave a very memorable speech. The speech started out with him saying “As a PFC machine gunner during World War II he never thought that one day he would command the 18th Airborne Corps”. I hope you enjoyed this.

  3. Thank you Chuck.

    I fully expected Audie to be in there, but through extensive research, I discovered he is way down near 18 or 19. It surprised me.

    Have a great day sir.

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