Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor premiered November 2008.

Paul Smith
Sgt. Gary Coker Personal Collection
Medal of Honor recipient Paul Smith serving in Iraq
What makes a person face almost certain death in order to save the lives of others? What gives a person the strength to endure unspeakable acts of torture under the hands of an enemy without losing the will to carry on? And is every person, if put into the same situation, capable of such virtues? Can we all be heroes?

In Medal of Honor, powerful stories of those who have received our nation's highest military honor beg fundamental questions about the nature of the human spirit and what it means to have the courage of a hero. Produced and directed by Roger Sherman, the 90-minute film traces the history of the Medal of Honor from a profile of Sgt. Paul Smith, the first soldier to receive a Medal of Honor in the Iraq war, back to its creation during the Civil War. Among those profiled in the film are a Holocaust survivor who single-handedly defended a hill from an advancing enemy force in the Korean War, an injured Navy SEAL who saved the lives of two comrades by swimming for two hours to bring them to safety, and a Marine at Iwo Jima who alone silenced seven Japanese bunkers with a flamethrower to clear a path for his demoralized company.

Roger Sherman
Medal of Honor Recipient Tibor Rubin displays his medal
Medal of Honor reveals the story of how the medal was introduced during the Civil War to boost morale and to attract soldiers to re-enlist and not desert. In 1863, a soldier named William Harvey Carney dropped his rifle and picked up the stars and stripes when the flag bearer in his company was shot. He was wounded in the battle but never dropped the flag.

For his valor, Carney became the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor. To date, only 3,473 Medals of Honor have been awarded. Since Vietnam, just seven have been awarded, all posthumously - two for service in Somalia, one for service in Afghanistan and four for

Medal of Honor recipients interviewed in the film include John W. Finn (World War II), Walter D. Ehlers (World War II), Hershel "Woody" W. Williams (World War II), Hiroshi H. Miyamura (Korea), Ronald E. Rosser (Korea), George "Bud" Day (Vietnam), Bob Kerrey (Vietnam) and Mike E. Thornton (Vietnam). The film also profiles Sgt. Paul Smith, who received the medal posthumously for an action in Iraq. Smith's story is told by three soldiers who fought with him that day: Sgt. Michael C. Seaman, who fed ammunition to Smith until he was killed, and Sgt. Daniel Medrano and Sgt. Harry Delauter, who also fought in that action.

Learn the history of the Medal of Honor, watch video clips and read full stories of interviewees at the Medal of Honor website.

Medal of Honor is a co-production of Florentine Films/Sherman Pictures, WETA Washington, D.C., and The Washington Post Company; Producer, Director, Cinematographer: Roger Sherman; Narrator: Alfre Woodard; Associate Producers: Nathan Sterner and Gwyn Welles; Editor: Juliet Weber; Original Music: Teese Gohl; Executive Producer: Ken Burns; Executive Producers for WETA: Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson.


Funding for Medal of Honor has been provided by The Boeing Company:


Produced by:

Floretine Films
The Washington Post Company



© 2008 Roger Sherman, Florentine Films/Sherman Pictures LLC. All Rights Reserved. Photos courtesy of the Sgt. Gary Coker Personal Collection, the Bud Day Personal Collection and Roger Sherman.

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