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​President Donald Trump awards former Army Spec. 5 James McCloughan the Medal of Honor on July 31, 2017. Screenshot photo.

—Amy McCullough

President Trump awarded former Spc. 5 James McCloughan the Medal of Honor—the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat—during a White House ceremony on Monday.

From May 13-15, 1969, McCloughan, a combat medic with the Army’s Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, repeatedly risked his own life to save his fellow soldiers during a 48-hour battle in the areas of Tam Kỳ and Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam.

On the morning of May 13, McCloughan and the other members of Charlie Company came under small arms and machine gun fire and two American helicopters were shot down. McCloughan raced 100 meters through the cross fire to aide a wounded soldier lying in an open rice field. “Upon reaching the wounded soldier, McCloughan shouldered him and raced back to the company, saving his fellow soldier from being captured or killed,” according to an Army release.

That afternoon, a platoon was ambushed by the North Vietnamese Army and sustained heavy casualties. Upon seeing two US soldiers huddled near a bush without weapons, McCloughan ran toward the ambush and began caring for the soldiers. “As he cared for two soldiers, shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade slashed open the back of Jim’s body from head to foot,” said Trump. “Yet that terrible wound didn’t stop Jim from pulling those two men to safety, nor did it stop him from answering the plea of another wounded comrade and carrying him to safety atop his own badly injured body.”

Though he was bleeding profusely and the Americans were clearly outnumbered, McCloughan refused orders to medevac to safety, saying he couldn’t live with the fact that other soldiers might die on the battlefield because there was no medic to help them.

The next day, McCloughan was wounded a second time while tending to two soldiers in an open rice paddy. Yet he continued ​going into the crossfire without regard for his own life to save wounded soldiers.

“Jim rescued 10 American soldiers and tended to countless others. He was one of 32 men who fought until the end. They held their ground against 2,000 enemy troops,” said Trump. “Jim, I know I speak for every person here when I say that we are in awe of your actions and your bravery.”

During the ceremony, Trump also acknowledged the 10 soldiers who had fought alongside McCloughan, including five whom he saved, in attendance, as well as eight other previous Medal of Honor recipients.


McCloughan salutes his former comrades during his Medal of Honor ceremony at the White House on July 31, 2017. Screenshot photo.