SGT MAYNARD SMITH
1. When you hear about the Medal of Honor, do you know why it is given? Do you as a military member know what a member must go through to receive such an honor? Sadly, a lot of military members don’t realize what a prestigious award this is. My intention today is to share with you what the Medal of Honor is. Also, I am going to tell you about Sgt. Maynard Smith who received a Medal of Honor in World War II, due to his bravery and loyalty to his fellow crewmembers.
2. First, I will start by giving you some background information on the Medal of Honor. In our country’s early history there were special awards voted by Congress for special contributions with the first awarded to George Washington in 1776. However, many felt that whatever actions were performed in the service on one’s country to be a common duty. The Civil War changed many perceptions in that regard. Originally authorized by congress in 1861, it’s sometimes called the ?Congressional Medal of Honor.? Although the proper name of the award is the Medal of Honor, it is due to the fact that it was established by an act of Congress that most erroneously refer to it as the ?Congressional Medal of Honor.? In the 136 years that the Medal of Honor has been established a total of 3,428 medals have been awarded. Twenty of these medals have been awarded to a recipient twice. The Medal of Honor (www.af.mil/heritage) is awarded to military members, while on active duty, that have gone beyond the call of duty, and have had enough courage to risk their own lives. The Medal of Honor is a bronze, five star hanging from a bronze bar with the single word, ?Valor?. All recommendations for this decoration must be proven incontestably for acts of bravery that are so outstanding that it is proven to be gallantry beyond the call of duty, self-sacrifice, risk of life, and will not leave any grounds for criticism or censure. Whatever deed was accomplished must also have incontestable evidence and been witnessed by two eyewitnesses. This decoration is the first award for enlisted serviceman. Only sixteen Medal of Honor decorations have been awarded since the Air Force became an independent force in 1947. Now, let me proceed to tell you about Sgt. Maynard Smith and what a courageous act he accomplished to receive such a prestigious award.
3. Sgt. Maynard Smith was in the U.S. Army Air Corps in World War II. When Sgt. Smith was returning from a mission over Europe on 1 May 1943, (www.americanhistory/library) the fighter aircraft, on which he was a gunner, was hit with intense enemy fire. The airplane was hit several times by enemy fire and cannon shells. Two of his crew was seriously wounded, intense fires were ignited in the cockpit, several vital cables were severed, and the aircraft’s oxygen system was shot out. Three members of his crew panicked and bailed out for the sea below. The escaping oxygen fanned the fires to such intense heat temperatures that the ammunition began to explode. Even though this was Sgt. Smith’s first combat mission he made the decision to save the aircraft and his two-wounded crewmembers. He threw the exploding ammunition overboard, manned the guns until the enemy was driven away, administered first aid to his wounded comrades, and then wrapped himself in a protective cloth to completely extinguish the flames by hand. Sgt. Smith’s act of heroism should explain what acts of bravery and courage is required to receive a Medal of Honor.
4. You now have some history on the Medal of Honor, and are informed on what the guidelines are for a military member to receive such an honor. In addition, you are familiar with a very brave and courageous man, Sgt. Maynard Smith, who made the self-sacrifice and risked his life for his country and his fellow crewmembers.