Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “medal of honor”

Medal of Honor Recipients (Afghanistan)

Medal of Honor Recipients (Afghanistan) – http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/afghanistan.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find an account of someone who faced live fire in Afghanistan to render medical aid?
  • Where can I find an account of Americans fighting outnumbered more than 7 to 1?
  • Where can I find an account of an Army Ranger using the enemy’s grenades against him?


Nine stories of heroism in capsule form. Each entry lists the soldier, branch of service, date of action and a few paragraphs description.

Medal of Honor Recipients (Vietnam)

Medal of Honor Recipients (Vietnam)


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find an example of soldiers who survived what outsiders would deem a suicidal charge?
  • Where can I find a story of how soldier provided covering fire so their comrades could be evacuated?
  • Where can I find a story of heroism among a helicopter crew?


Listing of medal of honor citations by last name. Each entry includes: rank & organization, Place and date of action, where the person entered the service, plus a long paragraph for the citation.

Medal of Honor Recipients – Korean War (Center of Military History)

Medal of Honor Recipients – Korean War (Center of Military History) – http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/koreanwar.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find stories of people who used grenades to attack the enemy at the cost of their own life?
  • Where can I find a story of a fighting medic?
  • Where can I find instances of soldiers deliberately exposing themselves to enemy fire?


Alphabetical listing of Medal of Honor recipients for service during the Korean War. Each entry has name of soldier, service, other brief biographical information followed by a citation a paragraph or so in length. An asterisk indicates a posthumous award.

Medal of Honor Recipients World War II

Medal of Honor Recipients World War II


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find an inspiring story of courage as a POW?
  • What is involved in a desperate charge?
  • Where can I find stories of valor in the air?


Citations for soldiers awarded the Medal of Honor for service during the World War II. Citations about a paragraph long and will always include why the soldier or sailor received the medal. Dates of birth and unit information are usually included.

Almost any of these citations will produce enough fodder for a short story, or back story for a character or character relative.

US Army Center of Military History

US Army Center of Military History – http://www.history.army.mil

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What problems faced US occupation forces in Mexico from 1846-1848?
  • How were US Army units equipped during the Korean War?
  • What US Army unit was known as the “Wizards of War?”
  • What did US Army Tropical Combat Uniforms look like in the 1980s.


This site is divided into the following sections:

Bookshelves – There are several ways to access the bookshelves materials. For writers I think the most effective way would be to select “Books and Research Materials” which produces the following list organized by time periods:

  • General
  • Colonial Era
  • Revolutionary War
  • Early National Era
  • War of 1812
  • Early 19th Century
  • Mexican War
  • Civil War
  • Late Nineteenth Century
  • War with Spain
  • Turn of the Century
  • World War I
  • The Interwar Years
  • World War II
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam
  • Cold War Years
  • Desert Shield/Storm
  • Contingency Operations

Clicking on an era will bring up a tabbed page. All of the tabbed pages will have “published material” and “archival material.” Published material will link to an HTML version of the a given book. If you find this format awkward, see the tips in Appendix E, “Locating Print Copies” for locating a print copy. Archival material will generally link to shorter articles or finding aids.

Images – Images link to artwork and photography. The Artwork page links to several views of Army artwork, but “Galleries by Topic” is probably your best bet. The topics provided are:

  • Arlington National Cemetery
  • World War I Era Posters
  • World war II Era Posters
  • Somailia Artwork
  • Desert Shield Online Gallery
  • War with Spain Army Art Exhibit
  • Normandy Invasion – Story in Pictures

The photographs page offers links to the these online exhibits:

  • Army Libraries Through the Years
  • The Army Nurse Corps in the War with Spain
  • Battle of the Bulge Images
  • Buffalo Soldiers on the Eve of World War II
  • Christmas in the Army – Through the Years
  • Images from World War II: The Early Years
  • African Americans in the U.S. Army – Early World War II
  • Images from World War II: Preparing for Battle
  • Photographs of World War II Ireland
  • The Normandy Invasion: The Story in Pictures
  • Army Nurses: World War II & Korean War Images
  • Korean War Photographs, 1950
  • Korean War Photographs, 1951
  • Korean War Photographs, 1952
  • Engineers in Korea (Photos digitized by the Engineer History Office, Ft. Leonard Wood)
  • Infantry: Images From Vietnam
  • Selected Just Cause (Panama 1989) Photographs
  • Selected Gulf War Photographs

Despite being linked from the “photographs” page, not all the images here are photographs. This seems particularly true of Army Nurses: World War II & Korean War Images.

Unit History – This section consists of Force Support Structure and Organizational History. Click on Organizational History for history of units. Clicking on the Lineage and Honors tab, then on lineage and honors information takes you to a listing of specialties including infantry, intelligence and civil affairs, among many others. Clicking on a specialty gives you a list of units, where you can view their lineage (significant events in their organization) and honors – listing of campaigns and citations.
Another tab really worth clicking on under the main unit/organizational history is the “special designations” tab, which has information about official unit nicknames. The page provides the following example using a unit coin:

The unit coin for the 28th Combat Support Hospital (pictured above) prominently features its special designation CHINA DRAGONS. The designation stems from the hospital’s service as portable surgical hospital in China during World War II, which is symbolized on its distinctive unit insignia by a dragon.

From Airborne Thunder (73d Cavalry Regiment [formerly 73d Armor]) to Wizards of War (11th Military Intelligence Company) there are many colorful unit nicknames in the US Army.

Museums – Main feature is a directory of Army Museums, but click the “articles and papers” section for a set of resources that writers might find helpful in outfitting military characters:

Medal of Honor – This section offers the full text of all 3,400 plus Medal of Honor recipients organized by war/operation as follows:

  • Civil War (A-L)
  • Civil War (M-Z)
  • Indian War Campaigns
  • Interim 1866-1870
  • 1871 Korean Campaign
  • Interim 1871-1898
  • War with Spain
  • Philippine Insurrection
  • China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion)
  • Interim 1901-1911
  • Action Against Outlaws–Philippines 1911
  • Mexican Campaign (Vera Cruz)
  • Haiti 1915
  • Interim 1915-16
  • Dominican Campaign
  • World War I
  • Haiti Campaign 1919-1920
  • Second Nicaraguan Campaign
  • Interim 1920-1940
  • World War II (A-F)
  • World War II (G-L)
  • World War II (M-S)
  • World War II (T-Z)
  • Korean War
  • Vietnam (A-L)
  • Vietnam (M-Z)
  • Somalia
  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • Special Legislation

The citations range from a paragraph to nearly a page and highlight the selflessness and bravery of the recipients while providing a glance into the hell that is war.

In addition to the citations, this section also offers statistical information about Medal of Honor recipients and a brief history of how the award came to be.

Staff Rides – This section gives access to a number of book length guides that are intended to used on a “staff ride”, a sort of specialized field trip. To understand the concept more fully, one should read the brochure “The Staff Ride” at the top of the page. The staff rides are related to the American Civil War. They are treated in more detail in the section for the Civil War below.

FAQs – As you might expect, this section has a set of questions frequently asked of the Center for Military History. Some of the questions seemed unusual to me, especially “What is the history of Project HORIZON, the Army’s proposal to establish a lunar outpost?” My first thought was “The Army was looking for a moon base in 1959? I had no idea!” If you click on that question, you’ll can download a two volume proposal. Or you can read about Elvis Presley’s Army career. I’d rather read about moon bases.

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