Top 10 Most Decorated Army Soldiers of All Time

In today’s post, I’m going to cover what I believe are the top 10 most decorated Army Soldiers of all time. 

Putting together a detailed list like this is fun, yet subjective. If you were to ask 100 people who the most decorated Army Soldiers of all time were, you would receive 100 different answers. We decided to do our independent research and see what we can come up with. If you think this list is out of order, or if you think we left someone important off of it, please leave a comment at the end of the post to share your thoughts.

Top 10 Most Decorated Army Soldiers of All Time

I’ll start this list with the the #10 spot and work my way down to # 1.

# 10: Lieutenant General Henry Everett Emerson 

LTG 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.

# 9: Brigadier General Charles Edward Getz 

Excuse the term, but here is one Army BADASS. BG Getz served in many roles during his Army service. He served in Vietnam for many years, but he also worked with 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.

# 8: Brigadier General John Thomas Corley 

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.

# 7: Lieutenant General Thomas H. Tackaberry 

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 conflicts, 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. 

# 6: Colonel Edward Vernon Rickenbacker 

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 his short time during World War I. Some of the most notable were 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

# 5: Lieutenant General James Francis Hollingsworth 

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 American patriot.

# 4: Colonel David Haskell Hackworth 

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

# 3: General Of The Army, Douglas MacArthur 

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that the great 5 star General made our list as one of the most decorated Soldiers 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. 

Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul! ~ General Douglas MacArthur

# 2: Colonel Robert Lewis Howard 

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 serving with 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. Plus, he was recommended for the Medal of Honor THREE different TIMES. 

# 1: Sergeant Audie Murphy

Most people assumed Audie Murphy would take the top spot, but I put him in a close second place.

Audie Murphy was one of the most famous and decorated United States Army combat soldiers of World War II, serving from 1942 to 1945. He received every American combat award for valor available at the time of his service, including the Medal of Honor. He also received recognitions from France and Belgium. ~ Military History Fandom

From what I found online, he received the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit, 2 Bronze Stars, and countless other awards. He is one of the most famous Soldiers of all time.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, this is my list of the top 10 most decorated Army Soldiers of all time. Putting together this list was a ton of fun. Some of you may agree with these rankings while others may disagree. In either case, I’d love if you left a comment below to share your thoughts. Who did I leave out? Who do I have listed that should not be on this list? I look forward to hearing from you.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
  1. The Distinguished Service Cross
  2. The Silver Star
  3. The Bronze Star
  4. The Congressional Medal of Honor
  5. Selling of Military Awards
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “Top 10 Most Decorated Army Soldiers of All Time”

  1. 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.

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