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Marines mark Medal of Honor anniversary with stories of valor


The Medal of Honor has been around for 149 years. Click the image to see an infographic that detail some of the incredible stories that earned the award.


In the Korean War, Cpl. Joseph Vittori manned a machine gun alone for more than 1,000 rounds, killing nearly 200 before succumbing to enemy fire. Maj. Pappy Boyington and Capt. Joseph Foss both shot down a record 26 enemy aircraft in World War II. After Gunnery Sgt. Robert G. Robinson was shot 13 times while flying during World War I, he helped land the aircraft safely.

These are just some of the incredible acts that earned 296 Marines a Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for bravery. On Tuesday, the 149th anniversary of the first medal, the Marine Corps blog published an infographic detailing some of the larger-than-life heroics.

Sgt. Mark Fayloga, chief of social media for the Marines, told msnbc.com that the graphic was the result of a few weeks' work digging through records with two other Marines. Previously, the service did not have readily available statistics or stories about how each Marine earned his Medal of Honor.

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"We put a lot of pride in our history and our heritage," Fayloga said. "There are Marine names that every Marine knows. But I was coming across stories I’d never seen before that were inspiring, and I’d have to stop and think, 'Did I just read what I read?' "

The graphic resonated with the Marines' online audience as well. On Facebook, the post was seen by 420,000 people, Fayloga said.

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Though the graphic was created to mark the medal's anniversary, it also came in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Stolen Valor Act. The federal law prohibits a person from falsely claiming that he has been awarded a military honor.

"It's something that's on people's minds," Fayloga said. Someone might falsely wear a Medal of Honor, he said, "but you can’t take away from what these Marines accomplished."

Rebecca Ruiz is a reporter at msnbc.com. Follow her on Twitter here.

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