The Medal of Honor.

The Medal of Honor. (U.S. Navy)

WASHINGTON — Two Navy Cross recipients honored for acts of valor in Afghanistan or Iraq instead deserved the Medal of Honor for their actions and are being nominated for an upgrade, the Navy said Tuesday.

The announcement, first reported by USA Today, is part of a review of all Silver Stars and service crosses awarded since Sept. 11, 2001. As part of the review, the Navy has also determined that an unspecified number of Silver Stars will be upgraded to Navy Crosses.

The names of the two servicemembers awarded the Navy Crosses, the service’s second-highest medal, have not been made public.

The department-wide medals review was directed by former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014 after questions arose about how there appeared to be so few Medal of Honor recipients from more than a decade of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Navy is the first to announce its findings. The service did not specify whether the Medal of Honor nominees were Marines or sailors.

To date, there have been four Medal of Honor recipients for actions in Iraq, all awarded posthumously. There have been 14 Medal of Honor recipients for actions in Afghanistan. Earlier this year, the services told Stars and Stripes that a total of 1,357 medals were being reviewed to determine whether they should be upgraded. The Army is reviewing 785 Silver Star and Distinguished Service Cross awards; the Navy, including the Marines, reviewed 425 Navy Cross and Silver Star medals, and the Air Force is reviewing 147 medals, including 135 Silver Stars and 12 Air Force Crosses. None of the medals under review would be downgraded, officials said.

Capt. Patrick McNally, a spokesman for Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, said the secretary had “recommended that two Navy Cross recipients be considered for the Medal of Honor.”

Those recommendations would have to be approved by the president and the Pentagon might need to get a waiver from Congress depending on when the act of valor took place, because law stipulates Medals of Honor must be awarded within five years of the action.

McNally also said the Navy has completed its review of potential Silver Stars that will be upgrades to Navy Crosses. Upgrading an award from Silver Star to a service cross only needs approval from the service secretary.

“Those are complete and will be awarded in individual ceremonies,” McNally said. He could not say how many Navy Crosses would be awarded or when it will happen. Twitter:@TaraCopp

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