There Have Only Been 15 Instances In Modern Combat Worthy Of America's Highest Award
US Marine Corps
The medal is an incredible honor, and while it is a symbol of courage and sacrifice for those who receive it, it's not something many aspire to.
That's because the criteria for receiving the award is incredibly stringent, requiring significant risk to life and limb in direct combat and a display of "personal bravery or self-sacrifice so extraordinary as to set the individual apart from his or her comrades."
For some service members put into extreme circumstances, the daily grind can give way to moments of incredible bravery that warrants them the nation's highest award.
Often it is the family of the fallen hero who receives the award posthumously. In the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there have been relatively few who have received the honor after more than a decade at war.