Medal of Honor Exhibit Unveiled at Pentagon

 By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2006  - In a tribute to those who have gallantly served the country, the Pentagon today unveiled a photographic exhibit titled "Visions of Valor."

The exhibit features dramatic portraits of 101 Medal of Honor recipients, and is on display in the Pentagon's "A" ring on all five floors. Seven Medal of Honor recipients were on hand for the opening ceremony, joining Defense Department and military leaders.

"We could think of no better place to have this set of photographs than in the Pentagon," said David J. McIntyre Jr., president and chief executive officer of TriWest, the company that purchased the exhibit from photographer Nick Del Calzo.

McIntyre, whose company is under contract to provide health care to military members in the Tricare West region, said he was humbled to be in the presence of the Medal of Honor recipients.

"In our day, where we struggle to find heroes that matter, I would suggest that we look no farther than those who wear the Medal of Honor," he said.

Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England also praised the heroes, saying that the Medal of Honor is "earned by only a few, but revered by millions." This exhibit will be a source of inspiration to all who view it, he said.

"It is important to have heroes, because they set standards," he said. "People know what can be achieved."

Gary Littrell, Medal of Honor recipient and president of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, said the photo project is the first of its kind. He wishes it had been done sooner, he said, because the ranks of Medal of Honor recipients are diminishing as the years go by. Only 150 of 3,441 Medal of Honor recipients were alive when the project began five years ago, and now only 117 remain.

The Medal of Honor recipients were made into heroes by Congress and the president, Littrell said, but he hopes the exhibit will teach people that they aren't the only ones with the capacity for greatness.

"We are all just ordinary men that were placed in an unordinary situation," he said. "Any young soldier, sailor, airman or Marine or any young school child growing up today, put in the same situation, could do the same thing."

Walter Joseph Marm, another Medal of Honor recipient at the event, echoed the same humility. Marm was recognized for his actions as an Army lieutenant in the battle of La Drang Valley, Vietnam, in November 1965. That battle was made famous by the 2002 movie "We Were Soldiers."

"Most of us feel that all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are doing outstanding things now and back then too," he said. "We just represent them, and we're the caretakers of the medal for all the men and women that have served."

A duplicate collection of the portraits was purchased by TriWest and is a traveling exhibit. That exhibit is now on display at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and will be heading to Hawaii in May.