2017 : Michigan Vietnam Veteran Receives Medal of Honor

July 31, 2018 all-day

An Army medic from South Haven who risked his life nine times to rescue comrades in Vietnam is becoming the first person to receive the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump.

Trump is set to present America’s highest military honor to 71-year-old James McCloughan at the White House today. McCloughan was a 23-year-old private first class who was drafted into the Army and sent to Southeast Asia. He repeatedly entered the “kill zone” to rescue wounded comrades during the Battle of Hui Yon Hill in 1969, even as he was being pelted with shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade.

McCloughan told The Associated Press in an interview last month that the battle was the worst two days of his life.

McCloughan, known as “Doc” to his men, joins a distinguished group of 3,500 U.S. service members who have received the award since its creation during the Civil War. Seventy-one medal recipients are still living, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Eight of them attended Monday’s ceremony.

McCloughan was 23 years old and had been in Vietnam just over two months when his company was flown by helicopter into an area near the coastal village of Tam Ky, at the base of Nui Yon Hill.

The company came under heavy assault and the resulting battle lasted two days and two nights, May 13-15, 1969. McCloughan is credited with saving the lives of at least 10 men in his company, pulling many wounded from the field under heavy fire, despite being wounded himself on three separate occasions. He treated dozens of others during the 48 hours of close combat.

The 89 troops from Charlie Company were tremendously outnumbered but, with the help of air support, held their ground against 1,500 to 2,000 enemy forces until the North Vietnamese retreated.

McCloughan told reporters it was “humbling” to receive the award, and that his heart is with the families of those who didn’t survive.

Source : WILX, Channel 10, Lansing, Michigan.

Melissa Nann Burke, “Trump honors South Haven vet with Medal of Honor“, Detroit News, July 31, 2017.

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