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Vietnam Vet Will Be Awarded Long Overdue Medal

Valor and heroism back in May 1969 finally to be acknowledged — with nation's highest civilian honor

Last month U.S. Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, along with Rep. Fred Upton, announced that President Trump would award the Medal of Honor to Vietnam War veteran James C. McCloughan. The award will be presented at a ceremony on July 31, 2017.

This follows legislation passed by Sens. Stabenow and Peters and Rep. Upton to make then-Pfc. McCloughan eligible for our nation’s highest military honor. Their legislation passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act and was signed into law.

McCloughan will be recognized for his valorous actions, which occurred during 48 hours of intense fighting against enemy forces on Nui Yon Hill near Tam Kỳ, South Vietnam, from May 13 to 15, 1969. The combat medic was serving with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Infantry Brigade (Americal Division).

The battle. McCloughan was a private first class when he voluntarily risked his life to rescue wounded and disoriented personnel. Despite being personally wounded by shrapnel and small-arms fire, McCloughan refused medical evacuation. Instead, he opted to stay with his unit, where he continued to brave enemy fire so that he could rescue, treat, and defend his wounded comrades.

While moving the wounded onto medical evacuation helicopters, his platoon leader ordered him to join them. But he said he disobeyed the order, telling the lieutenant, “You’re going to need me.” He was one of the company medics.

The next day, elements of his battalion were getting probed by the North Vietnamese army. His own platoon had stood down and was recovering in the relatively quiet sector of Landing Zone Center, also in the vicinity of Tam Kỳ. McCloughan joined another platoon for a scouting mission. The platoon was ambushed and the other platoon medic was killed, leaving McCloughan as the sole medical specialist in the company.

Through intense battle, McCloughan was wounded a second time, by small-arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade, while rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy.

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In the final phases of the attack, two companies from the NVA and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Company C’s position on three sides. McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract wounded soldiers while also fighting the enemy.

In the early morning of May 15, McCloughan knocked out an RPG position with a grenade. He continued to fight, treat casualties, and eliminate enemy soldiers until he collapsed from dehydration and exhaustion. (go to page 2 to continue reading) [lz_pagination]

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