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Stories Behind the Faces

CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR The Medal of Honor is America's highest military award that can be bestowed on a service member. Established by Congress during the Civil War on July 12, 1862, the Medal of Honor is our country's first military award for valor in action against an enemy of the United States. The medal is awarded in the name of Congress, and for that reason, it is also referred to as the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is presented to recipients by the President of the United States.

The Medal, patented and protected against duplication by non-military organizations, is an inverted, five-pointed star that hangs from a light blue silk ribbon. It is the only military decoration worn around the neck of recipients. There are three designs: one for the United States Army, one for the United States Air Force, and one for the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Coast Guard members.

At the time of the dedication of this memorial on September 8, 1996, there were a total of 3,420 recipients of the Medal of Honor, and 174 of the recipients were living. Of the 3,420 Medal of Honor recipients, 238 were awarded for action from 1964 to 1973 in Vietnam. Of the Medal of Honor recipients from the Vietnam War, 155 men were from the US Army, 57 from the US Marine Corps, 14 from the US Navy and 12 from the US Air Force. There were 23 men born in New York State who received the Medal of Honor for action in Vietnam. One additional Medal of Honor for action outside Vietnam was awarded to the Commander of the U.S.S. Liberty, William McGonagle, for his heroic action in the Mediterranean Sea. Nearly 63% of the Medal of Honor recipients during the Vietnam War were awarded posthumously, including Rochester's own William Perkins, killed in action on October 12, 1967. Rochester's other Medal of Honor recipient Gary Beikirch delivered the Invocation to thousands of people at the dedication of our Memorial. On that special day, Gary was joined by the first Medal of Honor recipient (July 5, 1964), Col. Roger Donlon, and the last Medal of Honor recipient (February 24, 1981) from the Vietnam War, MSG Roy Benavidez.

The Medal of Honor recipients are most notable for their devotion to duty, honor, God and country. They share their recognition with their brothers-in-arms who were closest to them at the time of battle, remaining indebted to those comrades and sharing the Medal with them at every moment. These are our heroes who represent the commitment of service to country that allows the rest of us to experience the freedoms we live out in America. The Medal of Honor recipients are marked by courage and compassion, fidelity and bravery, and commitment to service; they represent the best of the best.

Citations of Rochester Area Medal of Honor Recipients
Gary B. Beikirch
William T. Perkins, Jr.