Of all the Medals of Honor ever awarded, Irish-Americans have received more than twice the number awarded to any other ethnic group.
The Medal of Honor is bestowed "for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force." The medal is awarded by the President of the United States on behalf of the Congress.
Of the 3,464 Medals of Honor awarded , an estimated 2,018 of them have been awarded to Irish-American recipients, more than twice the number awarded any other ethnic group; 257 Irish, BORN in Ireland, have received the Medal of Honor which represents more than half of foreign-born Medals of Honor recipients.
A monument to these Irish-born Medal of Honor winners is located at Valley Forge's Medal of Honor Grove. Sister Marie Veronica of the Sister, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, made it her life’s ambition to do a military research on all of the men who were the recipients of the Medal of Honor. During this research, she had noticed a number of the men who received the medal could not be accredited to any state. Most of these men had been born in Ireland and never become an American citizen.
The first Irish American to receive the Medal was Michael Madden, for his actions in the American Civil War.
Audie Murphy (Irish), the most decorated American soldiers of World War II, received the Medal of Honor at age 19.