The Medal of Hor is the highest decoration for valor that can be bestowed on a member of the Armed Forces of the United States. Since the Medal's inception in 1861, among the tens of millions of men and women who have borne American arms, the Medal has only been awarded 3,458 times. Almost half of those awards were for actions that occurred during the Civil War. Over the decades, and especially after WW I, the standards by which the Medal is awarded have become more and more stringent and the frequency with which it is bestowed has declined sharply. The Medal of Hor truly is the most prized decoration and the most hallowed. Recipients have come from all walks of life, every corner of America, and every uniformed service. Many; indeed most, of the awards, since 1941, have been made posthumously. The award may only be given to an individual once (although, in an earlier era, there were nineteen double awards); one women has been awarded the Medal (Dr. Mary Walker); and, eighty-five awardees are still living. Originally a private soldiers award, and still dominated by acts of courage from the ranks, the Medal has been given to a number of commissioned officers as well. As might be expected, among college and university graduates who have been tapped, the service academies top the list: There are 83 alumni from West Point, 73 from Annapolis and one from the Air Force Academy. Among all other American institutions of higher learning the university with the highest number of Medal of Hor recipients is Harvard; seventeen alumni in all. The Harvard men who have been hored served in virtually every conflict, from the Civil War to Vietnam. Who are these remarkable men? What stories do they have to share? Crimson Valor, a new book by Phil Keith, H-68, a Navy and Vietnam Vet, is available w to tell their tales.
I have twenty-four years of combined active duty and reserve military service in the United States Navy. I was awarded a full NROTC Scholarship and earned Distinguished Military Graduate honors at Harvard. I received my Bachelor's degree in History and a regular commission as an ensign upon graduation in 1968. After Navy Flight Training, I was awarded my wings as a Naval Aviator in 1969 then posted to Naval Justice School in Newport, RI, where I was cross-trained as a designated Legal Officer. I served three tours in Vietnam from 1970 to 1974. Among my personal decorations for valor in combat are the Air Medal for Gallantry, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, plus several campaign and unit awards. During the balance of my Navy career, I served in aviation and intelligence billets. I am a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, The Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, and the Advocates for ROTC at Harvard. After leaving the service I worked for two Fortune 500 companies in sales and marketing, and later started my own consulting company specializing in educational technology and software development. In 1999, I was appointed to the Business Faculty at Long Island University as part of the Executive-In-Residence Program. I presently teach marketing and advertising at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence (part-time). I have authored one prize-winning fictional novel, Animus, which won a 2008 Breakthrough Novel Award from Amazon. A second fictional novel, a sequel entitled Belladonna, was completed in 2010. I am currently under contract to Macmillan/St. Martin's Press for a major work of non-fiction entitled Blackhorse Riders. The book is about a nearly unknown battle and heroic rescue that took place deep in the jungles of Vietnam in 1970. Blackhorse Riders will be released on February 14th, 2012. I have also written numerous non-fiction magazine articles, primarily historical in nature, and have been published in the US Naval Institute Proceedings, Annals of the Medal of Honor Society, National Review, VOX Magazine, Hamptons On-Line, and the RISD Journal, among others. I was the business correspondent for the Sag Harbor Express from 2006 to 2008 and I am currently a columnist for the Southampton Press, in Southampton, New York. I live full-time in Southampton with my wonderful partner, Laura Lyons, and my terrific son Pierce.