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.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.