Best Real-Life Medal of Honor Movies or Mini-Series

by urbanemovies | created - 02 Mar 2017 | updated - 6 months ago | Public

Which movie or mini-series depicting a courageous action that led to the awarding of an U.S.A. Medal of Honor or a similar congressional award is most heroic story?

Memorial Day falls on the last Monday of May each year, it is a day intended to honor and remember those who have died while serving in the various branches of the U.S. military. Medal of Honor Day is celebrated each year on March 25th. For the purpose of this poll, the Medal of Honor for Space, the Gold Lifesaving Medal and the Four Chaplains' Medal are similar awards. Sources: and Wikipedia

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1. Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

R | 139 min | Biography, Drama, History

71 Metascore

World War II American Army Medic Desmond T. Doss, who served during the Battle of Okinawa, refuses to kill people, and becomes the first man in American history to receive the Medal of Honor without firing a shot.

Director: Mel Gibson | Stars: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer

Votes: 386,631 | Gross: $67.21M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Desmond Doss as played by Andrew Garfield in Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

2. Sergeant York (1941)

Passed | 134 min | Biography, Drama, History

A marksman is drafted in World War I and ends up becoming one of the most celebrated war heroes.

Director: Howard Hawks | Stars: Gary Cooper, Walter Brennan, Joan Leslie, George Tobias

Votes: 14,379 | Gross: $16.40M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Sgt. Alvin York as played by Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941)

3. Black Hawk Down (2001)

R | 144 min | Drama, History, War

74 Metascore

160 elite U.S. soldiers drop into Somalia to capture two top lieutenants of a renegade warlord and find themselves in a desperate battle with a large force of heavily-armed Somalis.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Josh Hartnett, Ewan McGregor, Tom Sizemore, Eric Bana

Votes: 346,763 | Gross: $108.64M

Real-Life MoH recipients: Master Sgt Gary Gordon and Randy Shughart as played by Johnny Strong and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau in Black Hawk Down (2001)

4. We Were Soldiers (2002)

R | 138 min | Action, Drama, History

65 Metascore

The story of the first major battle of the American phase of the Vietnam War, and the soldiers on both sides that fought it, while their wives wait nervously and anxiously at home for the good news or the bad news.

Director: Randall Wallace | Stars: Mel Gibson, Madeleine Stowe, Greg Kinnear, Sam Elliott

Votes: 123,675 | Gross: $78.12M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Maj. Bruce 'Snake' Crandall as played by Greg Kinnear in We Were Soldiers (2002)

5. Lone Survivor (2013)

R | 121 min | Action, Biography, Drama

60 Metascore

Marcus Luttrell and his team set out on a mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, in late June 2005. Marcus and his team are left to fight for their lives in one of the most valiant efforts of modern warfare.

Director: Peter Berg | Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster

Votes: 252,221 | Gross: $125.10M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Michael Murphy as played by Taylor Kitsch in Lone Survivor (2013)

6. To Hell and Back (1955)

Approved | 106 min | Action, Biography, Drama

The true WWII story of Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in U.S. history. Based on the autobiography of Audie Murphy who stars as himself in the film.

Director: Jesse Hibbs | Stars: Audie Murphy, Marshall Thompson, Charles Drake, Jack Kelly

Votes: 4,599

Real-Life MoH recipient: Audie Murphy as played by Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back (1955)

7. The Pacific (2010)

TV-MA | 530 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

The Pacific Theatre of World War II, as seen through the eyes of several young Marines.

Stars: James Badge Dale, Joseph Mazzello, Jon Seda, Ashton Holmes

Votes: 91,396

Real-Life MoH recipient: Sgt. John Basilone as played by Jon Seda in The Pacific (2010)

8. Rough Riders (1997– )

240 min | Action, Drama, History

Undersecretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt resigns to form a volunteer militia unit called "The Rough Riders" to fight in the Spanish-American War.

Stars: Tom Berenger, Sam Elliott, Gary Busey, Brad Johnson

Votes: 1,722

Real-Life MoH recipient: Theodore Roosevelt as played by Tom Berenger in Rough Riders (1997)

9. The Lost Battalion (2001 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 92 min | Action, Drama, War

Fact-based war drama about an American battalion of over 500 men which gets trapped behind enemy lines in the Argonne Forest in October 1918 France during the closing weeks of World War I.

Director: Russell Mulcahy | Stars: Ricky Schroder, Phil McKee, Jamie Harris, Jay Rodan

Votes: 6,325

Real-Life MoH recipient: Maj. Charles White Whittlesey as played by Ricky Schroder in The Lost Battalion (2001)

10. Gettysburg (1993)

PG | 271 min | Drama, History, War

In 1863, the Northern and Southern forces fight at Gettysburg in the decisive battle of the American Civil War.

Director: Ron Maxwell | Stars: Tom Berenger, Martin Sheen, Stephen Lang, Richard Jordan

Votes: 24,888 | Gross: $10.77M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as played by Jeff Daniels in Gettysburg (1993)

11. The Longest Day (1962)

G | 178 min | Action, Drama, History

75 Metascore

The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view.

Directors: Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, Gerd Oswald, Bernhard Wicki, Darryl F. Zanuck | Stars: John Wayne, Robert Ryan, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda

Votes: 49,974 | Gross: $39.10M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr. as played by Henry Fonda in The Longest Day (1962)

12. Glory (1989)

R | 122 min | Biography, Drama, History

78 Metascore

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick | Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes, Morgan Freeman

Votes: 115,018 | Gross: $26.83M

Real-Life MoH recipient: William Carney as played by loosely-based, composite characters in Glory (1989)

He received the Medal for his courage in saving the 54th Massachusetts American flag from falling and planting it on the fort's parapet during the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. When the troops fell back, Carney retrieved the flag under fierce fire, despite being severely wounded. *Carney's Medal of Honor act is depicted in film's final scene by two actors and some artistic license is taken with the facts.

13. Captain Eddie (1945)

Approved | 107 min | Biography, Drama

WWI flyer Eddie Rickenbaker remembers his life which brought him from a car salesman, race driver and pilot in WWI, to an important person in the early years of civil airline service, after... See full summary »

Director: Lloyd Bacon | Stars: Fred MacMurray, Lynn Bari, Charles Bickford, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 87

Real-Life MoH recipient: Capt. Edward Rickenbacker as played by Fred MacMurray in Captain Eddie (1945)

14. In Love and War (1987 TV Movie)

PG-13 | 100 min | Drama

This movie is an account of US Navy Commander James Stockdale's 8 year imprisonment in North Vietnam. During his confinement in such camps as the infamous "Hanoi Hilton", Stockdale, among ... See full summary »

Director: Paul Aaron | Stars: Jane Alexander, James Woods, Concetta Tomei, Richard McKenzie

Votes: 129

Real-Life MoH recipient: Adm. James Stockdale as played by James Woods in In Love and War (1987)

15. Buffalo Bill (1944)

Approved | 90 min | Biography, Romance, Western

The story of William "Buffalo Bill" Cody, legendary westerner, from his days as an army scout to his later activities as owner of a Wild West show.

Director: William A. Wellman | Stars: Joel McCrea, Maureen O'Hara, Linda Darnell, Thomas Mitchell

Votes: 1,257

Real-Life MoH recipient: Buffalo Bill Cody as played by Joel McCrea in Buffalo Bill (1944)

16. The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)

Approved | 85 min | Action, Adventure, Family

During the Civil War Union spy Andrews and his men volunteer to steal a Confederate train and drive it to Union territory while destroying the Confederate railway system along the way.

Director: Francis D. Lyon | Stars: Fess Parker, Jeffrey Hunter, Jeff York, John Lupton

Votes: 965

Real-Life MoH recipients: Andrews' Raiders*

Confederate version: Buster Keaton's The General (1926)

17. The General (1926)

Passed | 67 min | Action, Adventure, Comedy

When Union spies steal an engineer's beloved locomotive, he pursues it single-handedly and straight through enemy lines.

Directors: Clyde Bruckman, Buster Keaton | Stars: Buster Keaton, Marion Mack, Glen Cavender, Jim Farley

Votes: 74,076 | Gross: $0.23M

Real-Life MoH recipients: Andrews' Raiders*

Union version: Walt Disney's The Great Locomotive Chase (1956)

18. Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)

Passed | 138 min | Drama, History, War

In the wake of Pearl Harbor, a young lieutenant leaves his expectant wife to volunteer for a secret bombing mission which will take the war to the Japanese homeland.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy | Stars: Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Robert Walker, Tim Murdock

Votes: 5,031

Real-Life MoH recipient: Lt. Col. James Doolittle as played by Spencer Tracy in Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944)

19. Pearl Harbor (2001)

PG-13 | 183 min | Action, Drama, History

44 Metascore

A tale of war and romance mixed in with history. The story follows two lifelong friends and a beautiful nurse who are caught up in the horror of an infamous Sunday morning in 1941.

Director: Michael Bay | Stars: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, William Lee Scott

Votes: 298,297 | Gross: $198.54M

Real-Life MoH recipient: Lt. Col. James Doolittle as played by Alec Baldwin in Pearl Harbor (2001)

20. The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

Approved | 135 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

Charles 'Slim' Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing.

Director: Billy Wilder | Stars: James Stewart, Murray Hamilton, Patricia Smith, Bartlett Robinson

Votes: 6,852

Real-Life MoH recipient: Charles Lindbergh as played by James Stewart in The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

21. MacArthur (1977)

PG | 130 min | Biography, Drama, History

Biopic of General Douglas MacArthur covering his war exploits during WW2 and the Korean War.

Director: Joseph Sargent | Stars: Gregory Peck, Dan O'Herlihy, Ed Flanders, Ivan Bonar

Votes: 4,079

Real-Life MoH recipient: General Douglas MacArthur as played by Gregory Peck in MacArthur (1977)

22. The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955)

Approved | 100 min | Biography, Drama, War

A dramatization of the American general and his court martial for publically complaining about High Command's dismissal and neglect of the aerial fighting forces.

Director: Otto Preminger | Stars: Gary Cooper, Charles Bickford, Ralph Bellamy, Rod Steiger

Votes: 1,619

Real-Life MoH* recipient: Col. Billy Mitchell as played by Gary Cooper in The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955).

23. The Right Stuff (1983)

PG | 193 min | Adventure, Biography, Drama

91 Metascore

The story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts and their macho, seat-of-the-pants approach to the space program.

Director: Philip Kaufman | Stars: Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid

Votes: 53,420 | Gross: $21.50M

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Chuck Yeager, Alan Shepard, John Glenn and Gus Grissom as played by Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris and Fred Ward in The Right Stuff (1983) * Congressional Space Medal of Honor

24. Apollo 13 (I) (1995)

PG | 140 min | Adventure, Drama, History

77 Metascore

NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy.

Director: Ron Howard | Stars: Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Gary Sinise

Votes: 252,083 | Gross: $173.84M

Real-Life MoH* recipient: Jim Lovell as played by Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 (1995) * Congressional Space Medal of Honor

25. First Man (2018)

PG-13 | 141 min | Biography, Drama, History

84 Metascore

A look at the life of the astronaut, Neil Armstrong, and the legendary space mission that led him to become the first man to walk on the Moon on July 20, 1969.

Director: Damien Chazelle | Stars: Ryan Gosling, Claire Foy, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler

Votes: 140,888 | Gross: $44.94M

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Neil Armstrong as played by Ryan Gosling * Congressional Space Medal of Honor

26. From the Earth to the Moon (1998)

TV-14 | 60 min | Action, Drama, History

Dramatized portrayal of the Apollo manned space program.

Stars: Tom Hanks, Nick Searcy, Lane Smith, David Andrews

Votes: 10,202

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Neil Armstrong as played by Tony Goldwyn, Frank Borman as played by David Andrews in From the Earth to the Moon (1998), Jim Lovell as played by Tim Daly, Roger B.Chaffe as played by Ben Marley, John Young as played by John Posey, Gus Grissom as played by Mark Rolston, Ed White as played Chris Isaak and Alan Shepard as played by Ted Levine in From the Earth to the Moon (1998) * Congressional Space Medal of Honor

27. The Challenger Disaster (2013 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 90 min | Drama, History

Factual drama exploring the truth behind the space shuttle Challenger's 1986 disintegration.

Director: James Hawes | Stars: William Hurt, Joanne Whalley, Bruce Greenwood, Brian Dennehy

Votes: 3,820

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Challenger Space Shuttle crew recipients: Francis R. Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Gregory Jarvis and Christa McAuliffe * Congressional Space Medal of Honor

28. The Finest Hours (2016)

PG-13 | 117 min | Drama, History, Thriller

58 Metascore

The Coast Guard makes a daring rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod after a pair of oil tankers are destroyed during a blizzard in 1952.

Director: Craig Gillespie | Stars: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana

Votes: 57,539 | Gross: $27.55M

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Coast Guard motor lifeboat CG 36500 crew recipients: Bernard C. Webber, Andrew Fitzgerald, Richard Livesey, and Ervin Maske as played by Chris Pine, Kyle Gallner, Ben Foster and John Magaro * Congressional Coast Guard Gold Lifesaving Medal

29. The Four Chaplains: Sacrifice at Sea (2004 TV Movie)

60 min | Documentary

Four new Army Chaplains aboard the USAT Dorchester is torpedoed by a German sub on Feb. 3, 1943. A Priest, a Rabbi, and two protestant Ministers join together to save a few more souls in exchange for their lives.

Director: James Moll

Votes: 15

Real-Life MoH* recipients: Dorchester Troop transport chaplain recipients: George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, Clark V. Poling, and John P. Washington * Congressional Four Chaplains' Medal

30. The Last Full Measure (2020)

R | 110 min | Drama, War | Completed

Thirty-four years after his death, Airman William H. Pitsenbarger, Jr. ("Pits") is awarded the nation's highest military honor, for his actions on the battlefield.

Director: Todd Robinson | Stars: Christopher Plummer, Samuel L. Jackson, Sebastian Stan, Diane Ladd

Real-Life MoH recipient: Air Force Staff Sergeant William Pitsenbarger as played by Jeremy Irvine

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