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Honor and Courage: Medal of Honor Celebration returns to Knoxville this week to honor heroes

The Medal of Honor Celebration begins Wednesday and is an annual gathering for recipients of the United States' highest military award for valor.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — One of the most exclusive groups of American heroes will make a return trip to Knoxville this week to accept honors at the Medal of Honor Celebration. 

The Medal of Honor Celebration begins Wednesday and is an annual gathering for recipients of the United States' highest military award for valor. It's being held in Knoxville for the second time in its history from September 6 to 10. Knoxville will be the only city other than Boston that has served as a host city for the event more than once.

“It’s going to be big, bigger, and better than it was last time,” said 2022 convention chair Joe Thompson said in an interview with 10News last year.

More than 30 Medal of Honor recipients will make the trip to Knoxville this year to attend the celebration. Actor Glen Powell, who played "Hangman" in Maverick: Top Gun, will be in Knoxville to accept the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment. Actor Dennis Quaid had originally been named to accept the award in person but was unable to attend the ceremony.

Knoxville hosted the same convention in 2014 for an elite group of veterans awarded the military’s highest medal for risking their own lives to save others. That year nearly 50 living recipients made the trip to Knoxville. 

Out of the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Military, only 3,507 have earned the Medal of Honor. 14 recipients are from East Tennessee.

Below you can find the stories of those 14 East Tennessee heroes as well as a schedule of events for this week. Click on their names to learn more about their heroism. 

World War I

James E. “Buck” Karnes

Milo Lemert

Edward R. Talley

Calvin J. Ward

Alvin C. York

World War II

Alexander Bonnyman, Jr.

Raymond H. Cooley

Charles H. Coolidge

Paul Huff

Elbert Kinser

Troy McGill

Charles McGaha


Ray Duke


Mitchell W. Stout

Preserving military history in France

Medal of Honor Celebration Schedule of Events

Tuesday, Sept. 6

University of Tennessee students with the Medal of Honor Project kicked off the Medal of Honor Convention on Tuesday night.

McGhee Tyson Airport set up a display to welcome those arriving for the Medal of Honor Convention.

It’s our honor to welcome Medal of Honor recipients, families, and guests to East Tennessee! If you're traveling this week, be sure to check out the Medal of Honor Celebration display located on the concourse.

Posted by McGhee Tyson Airport Knoxville, TN on Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Wednesday, Sept. 7

Opening Breakfast at Downtown Knoxville Marriott

Recipients and their guests, veterans, sponsors and political dignitaries were on hand for the opening breakfast. Attendance was limited to 400 people. Tickets were given to several hundred veterans to attend this event.

Medal of Honor Recipient School Visits at World’s Fair Park Festival Lawn

Tennessee National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters landed at 7:04 a.m. immediately following the opening breakfast. Medal of Honor Recipients departed via Black Hawk helicopters to visit Knoxville-area elementary, middle and high schools. Knoxville Catholic High School welcomed MOH recipients Leroy A. Petry, Gary "Mike" Rose and Kyle White at 9:45 a.m. 

The public was invited to the East Tennessee Veteran’s Memorial at the World’s Fair Park Festival Lawn to see the heroes off in the helicopters before they visit the following schools:

  • Bearden High School
  • Farragut High School
  • Sweetwater High School (Monroe County)
  • Northview Academy (Sevier County)
  • Jefferson County High School
  • Cumberland County High School
  • Alvin York Institute (Fentress County)
  • Morristown East High School (Hamblen County)
  • Knoxville Catholic High School

Thursday, Sept. 8

Congressional Medal of Honor Society Memorial Service at the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Recipients and their guests attended a private memorial service to pay tribute to the Medal of Honor Recipients who have passed away in the last year. During the service, the Tennessee National Guard performed a 21-gun salute with 75 mm pack howitzers. There was a flyover salute. 

Friday, Sept. 9

Character Development Program Luncheon at the Knoxville Museum of Art

Teachers and students from Knoxville-area schools who have excelled with the Medal of Honor Character Development Program will have lunch with Medal of Honor Recipients and their guests. This event is limited to 250 people.

Valor Outreach Program at the University of Tennessee

Several Medal of Honor Recipients will take part in a panel discussion with young veterans on veteran-related topics including, but not limited to, PTSD, substance abuse, homelessness and suicide. The event will be moderated by Courtney Kube, NBC News Pentagon Correspondent and Medal of Honor ‘Tex’ McCrary Journalism Award recipient. This event is open to University of Tennessee students and faculty.

Citizen’s Honor Awards Dinner at Downtown Knoxville Marriott

Each year the Congressional Medal of Honor Society pays tribute to ordinary citizens who demonstrate extraordinary acts of heroism. These ordinary citizens will be honored at this dinner.

Saturday, Sept. 10

Patriot Awards Gala at the Knoxville Convention Center

This is the culminating event of the Medal of Honor Celebration. The Master of Ceremonies for the Gala is actor Gary Sinise. At this event, Medal of Honor recipients will present four awards to outstanding Americans.

● Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment – Glen Powell

● Tex McCrary Award for Excellence in Journalism – Courtney Kube

● Distinguished Citizen Award – Dr. Timothy Miller and Operation Mend

● The Patriot Award – Ambassador Nikki Haley

The Gala is for the Medal of Honor Recipients and their guests, sponsors and veterans. Attendance is capped at 1,300 people, and several hundred tickets will be given away to veterans.


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