Our top 5 favorite Medal of Honor comic books
Comic books have long been filled with daring superheroes performing incredible feats with amazing superpowers. Many of these stories have clearly been worthy of their own movies (the success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is all the proof we need of that), the artwork is iconic and the characters have become part of readers’ everyday lives for generations.
Yet, regular people without superpowers have been performing similarly daring feats since long before the founding of the United States. When the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) finally began getting the writers, illustrators, and colorists who work on our favorite graphic novels to start telling the stories of Medal of Honor recipients, it makes us wonder: what took so long?
No matter how long it took, AUSA’s Medal of Honor graphic novels are here, and will hopefully stay for a while. Its latest book tell the story of Alwyn Cashe, a U.S. Army NCO whose vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2005. Cashe, covered in fuel from the blast, ran back to his burning vehicle to pull his soldiers out. In the process, his uniform caught fire, covering his body with burns that would take his life weeks later. It’s a gripping story about the dedication of a soldier to his troops.
Cashe’s story is just the latest, but with 20 books spread across five volumes, there’s a lot of good (and free) reading to be done. Here are just a few of our favorites (in the order in which they were released), but be sure to catch them all – we’re not going to give away the whole story here.
Check out our favorite Medal of Honor comic books from AUSA
If any Medal of Honor story should be a comic book and movie franchise, it’s the story of Roy Benavidez during the Vietnam War. Staff Sgt. Benavidez, a member of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces, volunteered to rescue a 12-man reconnaissance team being pinned down by a large North Vietnamese force in 1968. Outnumbered by almost 100-to-1, it was a daring mission.
Benavidez had already retaught himself to walk after stepping on a landmine three years prior. This was literally jumping into certain death. Over the course of six hours, Benavidez fought a battalion of communists as 12 soldiers and 9 Montagnards were loaded onto helicopters. We can’t tell you how this very true story goes, you’ll just have to read it.
2. Henry Johnson
Johnson joined the U.S. Army after the United States entered World War I. He was sent to France as part of the 369th Infantry Regiment, which was among the first to arrive as part of the American Expeditionary Force. Since white soldiers would refuse to fight alongside Black soldiers, the 369th was lent to the French Army, which had no such qualms about color.
Johnson and another soldier from the 369th (nicknamed the “Harlem Hellfighters”) suddenly came under attack in May 1918. Despite being wounded, Johnson held off the surprise German assault, exposed himself to enemy fire to save a comrade, and kept his unit from being overrun.
3. Tibor Rubin
Rubin was born to Jewish parents in Hungary in 1929. After his brother was arrested and sent to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp, Tibor tried to escape. He was captured near the Swiss border in 1944 and was also sent to Mauthausen. He survived when many of his family did not. He emigrated to the United States and joined the US Army because they had liberated his camp.
In 1950, he was sent to Korea, where he was recommended for the Medal of Honor four times but denied due to antisemitism. His decimated unit was overrun and he was captured in October 1950, but while morale was low in the prison, Rubin used his experience at Mauthausen to sneak out and steal food and supplies from their captors. He is the only Holocaust survivor to receive a Medal of Honor.
4. Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart
Anyone who’s seen or read the book “Black Hawk Down” might be familiar with the story of Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart. They were part of an Army special operations mission in Mogadishu, Somalia during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu. When one of the helicopters went down, pilot Michael Durant survived, but reported he couldn’t move, even as armed Somalis converged on the crash site.
Shughart and Gordon repeatedly asked to be inserted to the crash area to help get Durant to safety and protect the crash site from the armed crowd. The walked into that fight knowing there was little chance of survival. They died fighting but Durant survived, was taken prisoner and ultimately returned.
5. Samuel Woodfill
After World War I, John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Force and at the time, the country’s most legendary military leader, was asked who the most outstanding soldier of the Great War was. Pershing told them it was Samuel Woodfill, to whom he’d personally presented the Medal of Honor.
Woodfill was a skilled soldier with 16 years of service before World War I. In the final offensive of the war, Woodfill led his men against entrenched German machine guns. He would take out three nests until he ran out of ammo, then used an ax to finish off the last one. Woodfill lost none of the men under his command that day.