Edmonds Military Wire: Service above and beyond — the Medal of Honor

Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler

The Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest award for military valor. It is awarded to those individuals whose actions have risen “above and beyond the call of duty;” in plain speak, it is earned in action at the risk of a service member’s life for that of another. Since the inception of the award, after the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, millions have served this country but only 3,492 individuals have been recipients. Today, there are only 79 living recipients.

With both Veterans Day and the mark of 75 years since WWII quickly approaching, thanks to Zenith Press, readers have the opportunity to pick up the recent release, “The Medal of Honor: A History of Service Above and Beyond.”

“The Medal of Honor” chronicles the creation, evolution, and awarding of the Medal, from the battlefields of the Civil War to the jungles of Vietnam. Having just received my copy, I can tell you that the hardcover book is chock full (over 300 pages) of pictures, amazing factual stories of action-filled accounts of heroism and is a real reminder of how one individual truly can change the course of history.

Washington state is the home of record for 35 Medal of Honor recipients. Interestingly, only one Coast Guardsman in history has received the Medal of Honor: World War II Canadian-born, Washington state hero Douglas Munro.

Washington state also produced its fair share of ace fighter pilots. South Dakota’s Joe Foss was the first World War II pilot to tie World War I “Ace of Aces” Eddie Rickenbacker’s record of 26 downed enemy planes. However, it was Tacoma’s “Pappy” Boyington who was the first to break that record at 28. Later fellow Washington state Fighter Pilot Bob Galer also beat Rickenbacker’s record with 27 downed enemy air-craft. Seattle-born Marine pilot Jim Swett became an Ace in a Day when he shot down seven enemy bombers in one outing.

During the Vietnam War, Seattle’s Patrick Henry Brady joked that he almost became an “enemy ace.” In one day he went through three helicopters, each becoming so badly shot up it could no longer fly, in daring rescue missions to retrieve 53 wounded soldiers.

The editors of the Boston Publishing Company and Zenith Press did America a great service by putting together this comprehensive history of Medal of Honor recipients. It is available for purchase at bookstores across America as well as online at www.QBookshop.com and www.Amazon.com.

Bottom line: In the age of e-books and audio books, the hardcover “Medal of Honor” book is a real page turner…and one that will remind you of what has historically made America so great: mission and service above self.

– By Michael Schindler

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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