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Obama to award Medal of Honor to Civil War soldier

Medal of Honor

By NEDRA PICKLER

WASHINGTON (AP) - A century and a half after his valiant death at the Battle of Gettysburg, a Union Army officer is being awarded the nation's highest military decoration, thanks to a decades-long campaign by his descendants and Civil War buffs.

The White House announced Wednesday that President Barack Obama approved the Medal of Honor for 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing, who was killed by a Confederate bullet to the head during the pivotal, three-day Battle of Gettysburg.

Congress granted a special exemption last December for Cushing to receive the award posthumously since recommendations normally have to be made within two years of the act of heroism and the medal awarded within three years.

The White House also announced that Obama will award the medal in a ceremony on Sept. 15 to two Vietnam War soldiers who also received the congressional exemption - Army Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and Army Spc. Donald P. Sloat. The medal is given to members of the Armed Forces who risk their own life in an act of great personal bravery.

Check out some other recent Medal of Honor recipients.

Cushing was born in Delafield, Wisconsin, raised in Fredonia, New York, and buried at his alma mater, West Point, after being killed on July 3, 1863, at age 22. He commanded about 110 men and six cannons, defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett's Charge, a major Confederate thrust that could have turned the tide in the war.

The fierce battle near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, resulted in more than 51,000 casualties. Confederate soldiers advanced into the Union fire but eventually retreated with massive losses. The South never recovered from the defeat. Four months later, President Abraham Lincoln memorialized the Union war dead in his Gettysburg Address.

During the battle, Cushing's small force stood their ground under a severe artillery bombardment as nearly 13,000 Confederate infantrymen waited to advance. Cushing was wounded, and his battery was left with two guns and no long-range ammunition. Historians say his stricken battery should have been withdrawn and replaced with reserve forces, but Cushing insisted on ordering his guns to the front lines on the last day of fighting.

"Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece continuing to fire in the face of the enemy," the White House said in its announcement. "With the rebels within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed during this heroic stand. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repulse the Confederate assault."

Several soldiers who fought alongside Cushing received Medals of Honor. It's not clear why Cushing never got one, but his descendants and admirers took up his cause in the late 1980s.

Wisconsin lawmakers pushed through an amendment to a defense spending bill to award Cushing in 2010, but then-Sen. James Webb, D-Va., stripped it from the bill because he said it was impossible to go back 150 years to determine who should receive the award. Webb predicted it could open an endless series of claims and argued at the time, "The better wisdom would be for Congress to leave history alone."

The award also will be given posthumously to Sloat, who was killed in action in Vietnam on Jan. 17, 1970, at age 20. Sloat, of Coweta, Oklahoma, picked up a live grenade triggered by a fellow soldier and used his own body to shield the blast and save his fellow soldiers.

Adkins, a veteran who served 22 years and has retired to Opelika, Alabama, plans to receive his medal in person. He was deployed three times to Vietnam with the Special Forces and is being awarded for actions in combat on his second tour, in 1966, when he ran wounded through enemy fire to drag wounded comrades to safety.

Civil War Soldier To Receive Medal Of Honor 151 Years After Death

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fishhead80 August 27 2014 at 7:10 AM

Where's the medals for the Benghazi Heroes that Obama & Hillary left to die and then lied to the Heroes families while Obama & Hillary stood over the caskets.

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17 replies
hoodspark2 August 27 2014 at 6:28 AM

The CMH, should be awarded by a person with High standards, a man that knows what Honor, is all about, by a person who appreciates the ultimate sacrifice for his Country!...Not by a phony, who is hell bent on destroying our great Nation, not by a person who hates our military, and our strength, not by a person who would rather play golf, than to address world threats!! Our President doesn't have the foggiest Idea what the word Honor means!

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19 replies
mpheonix August 27 2014 at 6:45 AM

You cannot buy the loyalty of the military simply by awarding a few CMH's. Wake up Obama.

Flag Reply +38 rate up
7 replies
mvnup August 27 2014 at 6:10 AM

Jimmy Carter is probably thrilled to finally have this President Mr. 0 who is worse than he was.

Flag Reply +37 rate up
7 replies
blackhorse1nc August 27 2014 at 5:43 AM

What? No medals for Confederate heroes? They were Americans too.

Flag Reply +34 rate up
30 replies
frankiegallo33 August 27 2014 at 6:16 AM

Obama . The ***** liar will stoop to anything to try and raise his toilet level polls.
Nice try scum bag.
But we ain't buying it.

Flag Reply +30 rate up
5 replies
oldtexx August 27 2014 at 8:07 AM

How about a medal for Stonewall Jackson for defending the Constitution? Oh, I forgot, Obama hates the Constitution.......

Flag Reply +27 rate up
2 replies
sam54ct oldtexx August 27 2014 at 9:24 AM

We do not award medals to the enemy, which was the South at the time. As for the Constitution, Bush still has over 240 more Executive actions, than Obama to date.

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2 replies
tdw844 sam54ct August 27 2014 at 10:06 AM

Yeah, Yeah, blah, blah Bush this, Bush that. This man has used executive orders to circumvent the constitution and the law, something no other President has done. This whole "he has less Executive Orders than (name your favorite President here)" is a straw man. It's not the number it's the content and in his case most of them are unconstitutional.

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skitzlpk sam54ct August 27 2014 at 1:03 PM

Who the hell is "we" punk? If I'm some type of outcast, pay my taxes "punk".

If "we" is only "you", then "you" have made a helluva mess out of things,, "punk".

So take your bow before the audience now "punk",, "you" are so deserved..

Flag +1 rate up
doketx oldtexx August 27 2014 at 11:21 AM

Sam, you are aware that THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW. A great many of us are a little bit more concerned with the present, but I understand your frustration with having to find someone to compare Obama to who WAS in some respects, worse. After all, you can't use Barry's present accomplishments as an argument.

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1 reply
rexjohnvii doketx August 27 2014 at 1:43 PM

WHAT ACCOMPLISHEMENTS??????????????

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SAMMIE August 27 2014 at 7:50 AM

Gives out medals of honor but doesn't attend a high ranking General funerla killed in action. What gives with this story. Oh wait, I would rather be golfing....... HaHa

Flag Reply +25 rate up
4 replies
Ban Liberal Dementia August 27 2014 at 7:55 AM

Did I miss something? Last time I knew, approvals to award the Medal of Honor were by the US CONGRESS, not the executive branch (hence the original name - the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR). Has obama now usurped that as well?

Flag Reply +19 rate up
8 replies
wstokesjr August 27 2014 at 6:49 AM

Give it up you guys who hate this president. Enough already. Some facts: Obama plays golf once every two weeks. Eisenhower played golf 800 times in his 8 years. Can't a president have some fun once in a while. In spite of what you say it a tough job and nobody doing it get away without doing it. I knew people who worked at the White House and they said everything ends up there and they had really long hours. Or may be you just think he is lazy. Come on!

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25 replies
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