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Distinguished Service Medal Recipients

1946, J. Edgar Hoover

Awarding the Distinguished Service Medal to the FBI director in 1946,Past National Commander Frank Belgrano Jr. said that thanks to Hoover's work, "not one single act of enemy saboteurs or espionage agents was successful. On the first day of World War I, 62 dangerous enemy agents were arrested. Within the first 24 hours of World War II, 1,700 key figures of the enemy's fifth column were taken into custody, and this figure rose to more than 16,000 before the war was over."

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1946, Maj. Gen. Lewis B. Hershey

As director of the Selective Service System, Hershey was responsible for the veteran status of many of the Legionnaires he addressed at the 1946 convention. Presenting him with the Distinguished Service Medal, incoming National Commander Paul Griffith recognized Hershey for growing the military during World War II.

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1946, William Randolph Hearst

A strong proponent of The American Legion, Hearst received one of five Distinguished Service Medals in 1946. The National Executive Committee unanimously resolved that Hearst "has been a constant champion of the rights of veterans for the past 26 years, and has demonstrated an intense patriotism in his unselfish support of the program and principles of The American Legion."

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1945, Ernie Pyle

Shaped by the simplicity of his childhood days in Indiana, wartime journalist Ernie Pyle had a knack for telling the stories of the common person as he traveled across the nation. He did the same from the battlefields of World War II, until his death on Ie Shima in April 1945.

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1945, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz

"When war came in the Pacific, those of us who follow the military profession had a job to do for which we had been trained all our lives," said Nimitz, receiving the Distinguished Service Medal at The American Legion's national convention in 1945. "Not so with the great majority of those who made up the conquering American forces. Overwhelmingly this war was fought and won by amateurs: citizen sailors, soldiers and Marines.

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1945, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

At The American Legion's national convention in 1945, National Commander Edward Scheiberling hailed Eisenhower for leading more than 5 million U.S. and Allied fighting men "in the world's greatest combat effort to freedom's most memorable victory. To this supreme war effort you gave a leadership that fired your troops to immortal daring. It also inspired all of us on the homefront to carry on with increased devotion.

"We are proud to count you as a life member of our Abilene, Kan., post."

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1945, Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr.

In 1919, after fathering for the creation of The American Legion, Roosevelt fought off all efforts to be elected national commander. A quarter of a century later, his widow, Eleanor, accepted a Distinguished Service Medal on her husband's behalf.

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1945, Henry L. Stimson

At The American Legion's 1945 convention, Past National Commander Roane Waring said Stimson was widely known as "a distinguished soldier of World War I, a cabinet member under three presidents and our wartime secretary in America's greatest crisis. But we of the Legion know and admire him well as a Legionnaire."

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1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt

A man not without critics, especially for his post-Depression domestic policies, Roosevelt enjoyed the support of the military during his dozen years as commander in chief. A few months after his death, The American Legion awarded him the Distinguished Service Medal.

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1944, Frank Knox

Knox died of a heart attack at 70, just a few months before his widow, Annie, accepted on his behalf the Legion's first posthumous Distinguished Service Medal. Had he lived one more year, the Navy secretary would have seen the nation claim victory in World War II.

John L. Sullivan, assistant secretary of the Treasury and a past department commander of the New Hampshire Legion, said of his close friend: "He served his country in three wars ... He died as he had lived, giving the last measure of his very being to the service of his country."

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