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Mon, 08.06.1951

First Black Medal of Honor conferred in Korean conflict

William Thompson

On this date in 1951, Private First Class William Henry Thompson became the first Black to earn the Medal of Honor in the Korean conflict.

While manning his machine gun during a surprise attack on his platoon, Thompson of Company M, Twenty-fourth Infantry Regiment, was killed in action. This occurred at a critical juncture in the 8th Army's attempt to stop the North Korean Army's southward movement.

Pfc. Thompson’s effort near Hainan, Korea, resulted in his becoming the first Black man to receive the Medal of Honor since 1898.

Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue S.E.
Washington D.C. 20540

To Have a Military Career

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