U.S. # 4822-23s
2013 46¢ Medal of Honor: World War II
In every war there are those who perform selfless acts of bravery that seem superhuman. These warriors do not seek any recognition, often considering the feat part of their duty. The Medal of Honor is one way America can acknowledge and thank these courageous people for their service.
The Medal of Honor was first awarded during the Civil War to seamen and soldiers who “most distinguish[ed] themselves by their gallantry.” The first medals were given to six Union soldiers who hijacked a Confederate train named the General. More than half of the medals ever issued were awarded during the Civil War.
Over the next 150 years, 3,467 servicemen and one woman have received the Medal of Honor. From the attack on Pearl Harbor to the victory of the Allied forces, young men distinguished themselves “above and beyond the call of duty” throughout World War II. For their sacrifice, 464 of them received the medal, awarded by the President.
When a recipient is wearing the Medal of Honor, current members of the armed forces are encouraged to salute, even if they are a higher rank than the medal winner. It is a show of respect for the heroic deeds performed by those who willingly put themselves in danger for the good of their country.
In 2013, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of two stamps commemorating the 464 men who received the Medal of Honor during World War II. Photos of the last twelve living recipients were pictured on the front of the prestige folio, a new stamp format, with the names of all those rewarded printed in the back. The stamps picture the Army and Navy versions of the Medal of Honor, photographed by Richard Frasier
Value: 46¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: November 11, 2013
First Day City: Washington, D.C.
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Method: Offset printing in prestige folios of 20
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 11
Quantity Printed: 81,000,000 stamps
The first stamp to feature the Medal of Honor (#2045) was issued in 1983. Beginning in 2013, the U.S.P.S. began issuing stamps honoring Medal of Honor Recipients from World War II (#4822-23), the Korean War (#4822a-23a), and the Vietnam War (#4988a).
On April 18, 1942, Jimmy Doolittle led a daring raid against the Japanese in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Within weeks of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt urged US forces to retaliate. Navy Captain Francis Low first suggested that twin-engine Army bombers could be launched from an aircraft carrier.
Famous civilian aviator James “Jimmy” Doolittle, who had also served as an aeronautical engineer before the war, took over the planning and subsequently led the attack. Doolittle was a trailblazer and already famous for his daring string of aviation “firsts,” including several speed records. This mission would test those skills, as the unproven B-25B Mitchell planes, their ability to launch from the aircraft carrier, and the flight distance were tremendous risk factors.
The crew’s fate was also a gamble – the B-25Bs could not land on the carrier, so after dropping their bombs they were to continue on to China. Once there, the men were vulnerable to capture by Japanese patrols. But Doolittle and his men were willing to take the risks and launched their attack, the Doolittle Raid, on April 18, 1942. Early that morning, about 650 nautical miles from Japan, Japanese forces spotted the combined fleet of two carriers, four cruisers, eight destroyers, and two fleet oilers.
Doolittle then made the tough decision to launch the bombers immediately – 10 hours and 170 miles earlier than planned. Despite having never taken off from a carrier before, all 16 B-25B Mitchells successfully launched from the deck of the USS Hornet. Within six hours, they arrived over Japan and bombed 16 targets, mostly military installations, in six cities.
Though none of the bombers were shot down during the raid, they were all destroyed because the pilots were unable to reach their refueling station in China. In the end, 67 of the total 80 pilots survived the raid. Eleven crewmen were killed or captured. Three of them were tortured and executed by the Japanese, who also massacred 250,000 Chinese civilians for aiding the US airmen.
Due to the loss of all 16 aircraft and the relatively minor damage to the targets, Doolittle considered the raid a failure and expected to be court-martialed. However, the raid had dramatically boosted American morale and proved that Japan was vulnerable to attack. For his service, Doolittle was awarded the Medal of Honor and promoted two grades to brigadier general.
Additionally, all 80 of Doolittle’s Raiders received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal. It was a significant success that lifted American spirits and began to raise doubts in the Japanese leadership.