The 100th Infantry Battalion (Separate) was in combat for 20 months, from September 29, 1943 until Germany surrendered on May 2, 1945. After five months, the 100th had suffered so many casualties that it was called “the Purple Heart Battalion.” The battalion was awarded three Presidential Unit Citations. The 3,147 soldiers who served in the battalion earned 4,340 individual medals and awards, including 1,703 Purple Heart medals.
Presidential Unit Citation 3
Created in 1941, the Presidential Unit Citation was called the Distinguished Unit Citation. Renamed in 1966, the PUC is awarded to units for extraordinary acts of heroism against armed enemy forces. It is the highest award possible for a unit. The award is represented by a blue ribbon attached to a unit’s colors (flag), with the name of the action inscribed on the ribbon.
Within a year, the 100th was awarded the PUC three times. The first was for capturing Belvedere, Italy in June 1944. In October of the same year, the 100th received its second PUC for its role in the capture of Biffontaine and rescue of the Lost Battalion, both in France. The third PUC was awarded to the 100th/ 442nd Regimental Combat Team for the cracking of the last major German defenses in Italy, the Gothic Line, during April 1945.
Congressional Medal of Honor
The Congressional Medal of Honor, also known simply as the Medal of Honor, is the highest military decoration awarded to an individual by the United States Government. It is given for “conspicuous and irrefutable gallantry at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in direct combat with the enemy. Because of the nature of its criteria, it is often awarded posthumously.
Private First Class Sadao Munemori was posthumously awarded the medal in 1946. In 2000, the Distinguished Service Crosses of seven 100th veterans were upgraded to Medals of Honor.
Distinguished Service Cross 24
The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded for extraordinary gallantry at the risk of one’s life in combat against an enemy. Specifically, the DSC is awarded for meritorious acts that do not qualify for the Medal of Honor. It is the second highest Army decoration.
Silver Star 147
The Silver Star is awarded for extraordinary heroism in actions against an enemy. It is the third-highest award for valor. It is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The required gallantry, while of lesser degree than that required for the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.
The Legion of Merit 9
The Legion of Merit is a U.S. Armed Forces decoration awarded for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements. Unlike many of the other awards, this medal does not require combat action, though it does not exclude outstanding service in combat.
Soldier’s Medal 8
Similar to the Legion of Merit, the Soldier’s Medal is awarded for non-combat situations. Unlike the Legion of Merit, non-combat is one of the specific criteria for the Soldier’s Medal. Awarded to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, or similar forces of a friendly nation, this medal requires acts of significant risk, including life-threatening situations, but not involving conflict with an armed enemy.
Bronze Star for Valor 238
The Bronze Star for Valor is a medal given to individuals who distinguish themselves with heroic or meritorious achievement or service, primarily in ground combat. This medal is accompanied by a bronze letter “V” to indicate combat heroism.
Division Commendation 30
Presented to any member of the U.S. Armed Forces other than a general officer, this medal is awarded to individuals who distinguish themselves through heroism, meritorious achievement, or meritorious service.
Purple Heart 1703
The Purple Heart is awarded to those who have been injured or killed in the line of duty. Unlike other medals, the Purple Heart is not awarded by recommendation. Any soldier who meets its requirements is entitled to this medal. Many soldiers in the 100th received multiple Purple Hearts.
Bronze Star for Meritorious Service 2173
This Bronze Star is given to individuals who perform heroically in situations not in direct combat with an enemy such as securing areas or disabling mines.
Croix de Guerre (France) 2
Of French and Belgian origin, the Croix De Guerre, or in English, the “Cross of War,” is bestowed on allies who fight alongside French or Belgian forces.
Medaglia al Valore Militare (Italy) 5
The Medaglia al Valore Militare, or Medal of Military Valor, is awarded by Italian forces for outstanding gallantry in war.
Combat Infantry Badge
Unique to the U.S. Army, the Combat Infantry Badge is a specific badge awarded to enlisted men and officers beginning in World War II. To qualify for a CIB, a soldier must be of Colonel rank and below and must have fought in active ground combat while in an infantry or Special Forces unit of brigade size or smaller. In 1947, the U.S. Government retroactively awarded Bronze Stars to World War II participants who had already received the CIB.
Combat Medical Badge
The Combat Medical Badge is awarded to any member of the U.S. Army at the rank of Colonel or below who is assigned or attached to a medical unit.