7 Navy SEAL Medal of Honor Recipients

Ever wondered what it takes to wear the highest military honor in America? Picture this: you're a member of the Navy SEALs, an elite group known for their unmatched bravery. Your mission is dangerous and life-threatening, but your dedication to protect and serve overshadows any fear.

The stakes are high; not everyone returns home from such dangerous operations. But that's where courage shines brightest - when backed into a corner by overwhelming enemy force, facing impossible odds head-on.

This post delves deep into those extraordinary tales of heroism – shedding light on a few Navy SEALs who are Medal of Honor recipients. It gives insights into their incredible stories of sacrifice and courage during primary operations like hostage rescue or Operation Enduring Freedom.

Together, we'll dive into history's most audacious missions, exploring what makes them stand out.

Navy SEAL Medal Of Honor Recipients

Medal Of Honor Recipients Navy SEAL Table Of Contents:

The Rare Honor of the Medal of Honor

Often, we hear tales about the Medal of Honor and its recipients. But do you know just how rare this honor is? Since 1862, when it was first established, only a small percentage out of millions who served in World War II received it. Out of over 12 million Americans who served during that time, only 3,527 medals have been awarded.

These numbers show us one thing: The Medal isn't given lightly. It's an award representing exceptional bravery and courage in the face of danger—an accolade for those few heroes whose acts surpass all expectations.

The White House Ceremony and Its Significance

The significance of being a recipient doesn't stop at receiving the medal itself; there's more to it—the White House ceremony. Each honoree gets their moment under the spotlight at this prestigious event where they are officially recognized as an 'honor recipient' by the President himself.

This grandiose affair isn’t just about putting on a show—it’s a solemn occasion symbolizing respect towards these brave individuals who went above and beyond what was asked or expected from them during service—giving due credit where credit is deserved.

A Snapshot into History

To further appreciate its importance, let's delve deeper into history: This tradition started with our first president - George Washington. Yes indeed. Our founding father set this precedent because he believed that such extraordinary feats needed public recognition. This practice has continued to date in honoring every 'official citation' winner through ceremonies held right within the hallowed halls of the White House.

So, when we speak about the Medal of Honor, it's not just an award—it’s a testament to extraordinary courage under fire and unwavering commitment to duty. It represents tales that inspire awe and respect—tales that remind us that there are individuals among us who redefine bravery.

Key Takeaway: 


The Medal of Honor, given for extraordinary courage under threat, holds a rare and esteemed place. Of the millions who served in World War II, just 3,527 earned this tribute. But it's more than just about the medal—it's also about that moment at the White House when recipients get officially recognized by the President—a tradition steeped in history dating back to George Washington.

When we talk about the Navy SEALs, words like courage, strength, and honor naturally come to mind. These are not just men in uniform but special warfare operators who've made an unwavering commitment to defend their country.

The Core Values and Attributes of Navy SEALs

The foundation of a Navy Seal's identity lies within their core values. This elite team stands out from other military units due to its core values. With only seven seals being awarded the Medal of Honor since 1962, it’s clear these attributes aren’t familiar; they're extraordinary.

Becoming part of this elite team requires embodying qualities such as integrity - non-negotiable among Seals - and teamwork that puts others before self.

A Seal's tenacity sees them through tough times while their humility keeps them grounded despite numerous accolades. But most importantly, the bravery these special warfare operators displayed during critical missions indeed highlights why they’re considered world-class soldiers.

Key Takeaway: 


Being a Navy SEAL isn't just about wearing the uniform; it's about embodying extraordinary qualities like unwavering bravery, integrity, and honor. This rare blend of courage and character has led only seven SEALs to receive the Medal of Honor since 1962 - a testament to their unmatched valor.

Distinguished Navy SEALs Who Received The Medal Of Honor

Throughout history, only a select few from the ranks of the US military have demonstrated such extraordinary courage and selflessness that they've earned the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is reserved for those who have shown exceptional courage and sacrifice. Among these elite heroes are seven distinguished Navy SEALs.

The tales of their heroism serve as powerful examples to us all, not just in terms of physical bravery but also moral integrity. Each one stood against an enemy force with grit and determination unmatched by many.

Medal of Honor Recipient Michael Monsoor

Michael Anthony Monsoor was a Master-at-Arms Second Class (SEAL) in the United States Navy. Born on April 5, 1981, in Long Beach, California, he was early interested in serving his country and joined the military right after high school.

Monsoor underwent Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training at Coronado, California, where he graduated with class 250. After completing further specialized training, including parachute jump school and SEAL Qualification Training, he was assigned to Delta Platoon of SEAL Team Three.

On September 29th, 2006, while positioned on a rooftop during a firefight against insurgents, Monsoor made the ultimate sacrifice that would define him as one of America's bravest heroes. An enemy grenade landed near him without hesitation or regard for his safety; he threw himself onto it, absorbing most of its blast, thereby saving two fellow SEALS nearby.

This selfless act cost him his life, but he demonstrated an extraordinary level of bravery under fire, which led to posthumous recognition from military personnel and civilians nationwide. He was awarded the Medal Of Honor by President George W. Bush in April 2008, making him the first Navy SEAL to receive this prestigious award during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Monsoor's legacy continues to inspire countless individuals within and outside the military. His story is a testament to bravery, sacrifice, and commitment to duty, qualities that embody what it means to be a Navy SEAL. He serves as an enduring reminder of the price paid by those who put their lives on the line for our nation’s freedom.

Medal Of Honor Recipient Mike Murphy

Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, often known as "Mike," was a highly decorated United States Navy SEAL who served with distinction in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings. He displayed extraordinary heroism and self-sacrifice that ultimately led to him being posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration granted by the U.S. government.

In June 2005, while deployed in Kunar Province, Afghanistan, under Operation Red Wings aimed at disrupting anti-coalition militia activity, Lieutenant Murphy’s team encountered grave danger when ambushed by a significantly larger enemy force.

Despite being gravely wounded, Lt.Murphy moved into open terrain, drawing heavy fire onto himself to make a satellite call for help - an act that saved lives but cost him his own.

His gallant actions above and beyond duty led him to posthumously receive both The Silver Star Medal and The Purple Heart before finally getting awarded The Medal of Honor on October 22, 2007.

Medal Of Honor Recipients Who Were Navy SEALs

Medal Of Honor Recipient Britt Slabinski

Edward C. Byers Jr. is a retired United States Navy SEAL awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military honor in America, for his exceptional valor during a hostage rescue mission in Afghanistan.

Born on December 1, 1969, in Northampton, Massachusetts, Slabinski joined the U.S. Navy soon after high school graduation. His journey into becoming a distinguished member of one of America's elite fighting units began when he completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 1990.

In March 2002, during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan's Shahi-Kot Valley - an operation known as "The Battle Of Roberts Ridge," Slabinski led a reconnaissance team to establish an observation post atop Takur Ghar mountain. They were tragically ambushed upon landing by enemy fighters hiding nearby, resulting in several casualties, including Petty Officer Neil C. Roberts falling from their helicopter.

This act earned him immense respect and recognition from President Barack Obama, who presented him with The Medal Of Honor, making him among the few living recipients to have received this prestigious award since the Vietnam War.

After 25 years of service, Slabinski retired in June 2014. However, his legacy inspires future Navy SEALs and other special forces units. His story is a testament to American soldiers' indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to duty.

Medal Of Honor Recipient Bob Kerrey

In March 1969, a SEAL assault team raided a small island in Nha Trang in South Vietnam.

Kerrey was in charge of one of the two groups as they climbed a 350-foot cliff to avoid being detected by the Viet Cong. The enemy suddenly opened fire as they descended on the other side and approached their camp. A grenade exploded right in front of Kerrey, causing him severe injuries.

Despite his wounds, Kerrey bravely continued to lead his men and fight back. In that critical moment, he remained composed enough to coordinate with the second SEAL group and suppress the enemy's attacks. By the end of the intense battle, Kerrey was almost unconscious due to significant blood loss. Nevertheless, he led his men until a helicopter arrived for his evacuation. That night, His actions saved numerous lives and provided vital intelligence from captured enemy soldiers that proved invaluable for military strategists.

 Medal Of Honor Recipient Mike Thornton

Mike Thornton's exceptional bravery and unwavering determination during the Vietnam War earned him a place on this list. His selfless acts of heroism under intense enemy fire exemplify his extraordinary courage. In a remarkable display of courage, Thornton risked his own life to save fellow Navy SEAL Tom Norris, who was also a Medal of Honor recipient. During an operation in October 1972, Thornton was part of a joint US-South Vietnamese SEAL team conducting strategic reconnaissance near the North Vietnamese coast. As they landed ashore, they unexpectedly encountered a large enemy force. Despite their attempts to retreat undetected, the enemy sentries spotted them and engaged in a fierce firefight.

Tragically, Norris sustained severe head injuries and was left behind by the South Vietnamese forces, who assumed he had perished. However, displaying incredible resolve and disregard for personal safety, Thornton courageously returned amidst heavy gunfire to rescue his wounded comrade. Carrying Norris through treacherous terrain to reach the water's edge proved impossible. But Thornton's heroic efforts did not end there.

Another member of their team from Vietnam also suffered injuries during the skirmish. Without hesitation or concern for his well-being, Thornton bravely carried this wounded comrade while evading enemy fire. With both injured men in tow, Thornton led them into the water, where they swam tirelessly for hours to escape specific capture by hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers closing in on them. Their endurance paid off when they were eventually rescued by a Navy warship that plucked them from imminent danger. Following this harrowing ordeal, Mike Thornton continued his illustrious career in Naval Special Warfare and played an instrumental role as one of the founding members of SEAL Team 6 in 1980.

Medal Of Honor Recipient Tommy Norris

He is forever etched in the annals of Naval history for his daring ground operations behind enemy lines to rescue downed pilots during the Vietnam War. Just six months before his mission with Thornton, Norris was involved in a combat-search-and-rescue process in North Vietnam.

An EB-66 light bomber had been shot down, and one of its crew members, who possessed highly classified information about US missile systems, was desperately trying to evade capture with hordes of North Vietnamese soldiers hot on his trail. Despite losing five more aircraft in previous attempts to save him, the Air Force decided to halt all further sorties due to heavy casualties. To complicate matters further, another pilot went down and began evading capture in the same area. Undeterred by these challenges, Norris fearlessly led a rescue team deep into enemy territory - over a mile away - searching for the stranded airmen.

Through an arduous night filled with constant danger and narrow escapes, they managed to locate and successfully extract the second pilot. However, by this time, eight grueling days had passed since the first pilot ejected from his aircraft; he was rapidly running out of strength. Determined not to leave any comrade behind enemy lines, Norris teamed up with a South Vietnamese SEAL for one final attempt at rescuing the stranded pilot. After enduring countless hours fraught with perilous encounters along their path, these two commandos finally located their target. They ingeniously utilized an enemy boat they had captured to escape back to freedom. The heroic actions undertaken by Tommy Norris exemplify unwavering courage and selflessness displayed by American servicemen during one of history's most challenging conflicts – truly deserving recognition as legends within naval warfare lore.

Medal Of Honor Recipient Edward Byers

The most recent recipient of the Medal of Honor and the first Navy SEAL from DEVGRU to receive this prestigious award is former Chief Edward Byers. He was honored for his courageous actions during a hostage rescue mission in Afghanistan in 2012. As the team of SEALs approached the building where an American hostage was being held, their presence alerted the enemy. Without hesitation, Byers, who served as the master breacher, led a sprint towards the building.

He aimed to forcefully remove six heavy blankets, which served as a makeshift door. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when the first SEAL to enter the building was fatally wounded by enemy gunfire. Undeterred by this loss, Byers fearlessly stormed into the building and engaged with two enemy fighters. He swiftly eliminated one adversary in close-quarters combat while engaging in hand-to-hand combat with another. With incredible bravery and quick thinking, Byers located and shielded the American hostage from harm's way by throwing himself on top of him. While protecting his fellow countryman, Byers managed to overpower another enemy fighter using only his bare hands until a fellow SEAL could eliminate him.

With his teammates, Byers successfully evacuated and freed the hostage from captivity amidst all the chaos and danger surrounding them.

Key Takeaway: 


Navy SEALs consistently show incredible bravery in all sorts of operations. From Bob Kerrey's standout leadership in Vietnam, Edward Byers' daring rescue mission in Afghanistan, to Britt Slabinski's courage during Operation Anaconda or "Roberts Ridge," and Michael Monsoor's ultimate sacrifice - their actions cover a wide range from fearless rescues to strategic warfare.

FAQs about Navy Seal Medal of Honor Recipients

Has a Navy SEAL ever won the Medal of Honor?

Absolutely. Seven brave Navy SEALs have been awarded the Medal of Honor for their unmatched courage and bravery in combat.

Who was the last Navy SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor?

The most recent recipient is Edward Byers Jr., honored for his heroic actions during a hostage rescue operation in Afghanistan.

Who was the first Navy SEAL to get the Medal of Honor?

Bob Kerrey became first among SEALS when he earned this prestigious honor due to his leadership under fire during an assault mission in Vietnam.

Medal Of Honor Recipients Navy SEALs Conclusion

These stories of the Navy SEALs Medal of Honor recipients are a stark reminder of their exceptional bravery and unmatched courage.

The Medal of Honor is a tribute to the selfless courage and extraordinary heroism demonstrated by these Navy SEALs.

We learned about Edward Byers' daring hostage rescue operation, which displayed courage beyond compare.

We explored primary operations where Navy SEALs put their lives on the line for freedom and justice.

The rarity and prestige attached to this honor are undeniable.

It speaks volumes about those who bear it - they're more than soldiers; they're true heroes.

And finally, we've seen what makes these warriors stand out: core values such as loyalty, duty, and respect.

They’re essential threads woven into every story we’ve shared today – forming an enduring tapestry showcasing the essence of real-life superheroes among us.

Want more info about joining the Navy? Find your nearest Navy recruiter here.

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