Fourteen Medal of Honor recipients publicly backed Republican Donald Trump's presidential bid on Monday, the latest set of military-themed endorsements in what has become a campaign arms race over support from notable veterans.
The group includes retired Army Mst. Sgt. Leroy Petry, awarded the honor for heroism in Afghanistan, 11 Vietnam veterans, and a two Marines who earned their respective medals for actions in the Korean War and World War II.
In a statement, Trump called the endorsements a tremendous honor.
"These soldiers are the personification of courage under fire, they are the best of us all," he said. "I thank each of these Medal of Honor recipients for their faith in me to serve as our next president and commander in chief."
Retired Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who received a Medal of Honor for heroism in Afghanistan, was among the military-themed speakers at the Democratic Party convention in July in support of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, calling her "ready to lead."
The spate of Republican endorsements from veteran heroes is just the latest complication for military voices in the already contentious political campaign.
Last week, Trump announced the backing of 88 former generals and admirals who called him the best candidate to serve as the next commander in chief. Within days, Clinton’s campaign announced the names of 110 flag and general officers who endorsed her as the responsible, safe choice to lead the country. In response, Trump announced his list had topped 120.
At the Republican convention in July, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former Defense Intelligence Agency director, was a featured speaker who attacked Clinton as a liar and a dangerous leader.
Following Groberg’s speech at the Democratic event, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Allen offered praise for Clinton and veiled warnings about Trump’s unstable, unpredictable personality.
Several polls have shown Trump leading among troops and veterans, but Democrats have called that mostly traditional conservative leanings among the community rather than a show of support for Trump.
And several prominent former military leaders have suggested veterans are playing too prominent a role in the divisive presidential campaign.
In August, retired Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, decried the practice of former military brass stepping into the political arena, advising that "politicians should take the advice of senior military leaders but keep them off the stage." Follow @LeoShane
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.