Nation: Band of Heroes

In 104 years, only 3,188 U.S. fighting men have qualified to wear the star-spangled blue silk neckband and bronze star of the nation's highest award for valor. And with each war the Med al of Honor becomes harder to win.

When President Johnson last week clasped the ribbon around the neck of Marine Gunnery Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard, 38, it was only the 17th Medal of Honor awarded for the Viet Nam conflict.

Howard and his platoon of 17 Marine scouts were trapped on the grassy slopes of Hill 488, deep inside Viet Cong territory south of Danang soon after midnight on June...

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