Just one U.S. valor medal given in 4 years

Dec. 28, 2005 at 11:04 AM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. military personnel have been bestowed only one Medal of Honor for valor in four years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Army's second top honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, has been awarded twice to soldiers fighting in Iraq. Third-ranked is the Silver Star, of which 174 have been issued. The Navy has awarded three Navy Crosses and 30 Silver Stars since Sept. 11, 2001.

"The situations today are less likely to warrant the Medal of Honor than in past conflicts," said Nicholas Kehoe, president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. "That doesn't mean our troops aren't acting courageously or even heroically."

The most recent Medal of Honor was awarded posthumously to Sgt. Paul Smith, USA Today said. On April 4, 2003, Smith and dozens of fellow soldiers were about to be overrun at their position near the Baghdad airport. Under fire, Smith climbed onto a damaged armored vehicle and attacked the enemy with a .50-caliber machine gun. He killed as many as 50 enemy soldiers and helped save the lives of 100 U.S. troops.

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