President Donald Trump will present his first Medal of Honor on a Vietnam veteran who risked his life on several occasions to save the lives of wounded troops, the White House said Tuesday.
During a two-day battle while deployed to Vietnam, former Army Spc. Jim McCloughan, then 23 years at the time, saved the lives of several men during close-quarters combat near Don Que, Vietnam, on May 13 through 15, 1969. C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, came under heavy small arms fire in the morning.
McCloughan, serving as a combat medic, “suffered wounds from shrapnel and small arms fire on three separate occasions, but refused medical evacuation to stay with his unit, and continued to brave enemy fire to rescue, treat, and defend wounded Americans,” the White House said in a statement.
McCloughan “voluntarily risked his life on nine separate occasions to rescue wounded and disoriented comrades,” the statement said.
During the two days of fighting, McCloughan repeatedly ran into enemy crossfire and helped evacuate and save his wounded comrades – despite being wounded himself and his side being heavily outnumbered, according to the Medal of Honor award narrative.
McCloughan destroyed an RPG position with a grenade and also volunteered to hold a blinking light in an open area so that it could be used as a marker for a nighttime supply drop.
“McCloughan is credited with saving the lives of 10 members of his company,” the narrative reads.
Four months later, McCloughan’s platoon leader told him that he would be recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, Army Times reported. The award was downgraded to a Bronze Star with “V” device.
McCloughan left the Army in 1970 and taught psychology and sociology. He first taught at Olivet College and then South Haven High School. He coached wrestling, baseball and football before retiring in 2008.
Last year, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter recommended McCloughan for the Medal of Honor. However, legal issues prevented him from receiving it.
By law, the Medal of Honor must be awarded within five years of the act. Michigan’s Congressional delegation secured an amendment that allowed for a waiver, which was passed in December after former President Barack Obama signed it. Former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning signed off on the medal four days later.
McCloughan is scheduled to receive the Medal of Honor on July 31.