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Vietnam Veteran to Receive Medal of Honor

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Photo courtesy of Spc. 5 James McCloughan
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan, a Vietnam War veteran who risked his life on nine occasions to rescue wounded comrades, will receive the Medal of Honor on July 31.

McCloughan was drafted into the Army after completing college and deployed to Vietnam following basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and advanced medical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was assigned as a combat medic to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, in the Americal Division’s 196th Light Infantry Brigade, and distinguished himself in battle in 1969 near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill.

During a combat assault by enemy forces on May 13, two U.S. helicopters were shot down under heavy fire, making it impossible for a rescue helicopter to land. Instead, a squad from Charlie Company was dispatched to bring the pilot and crew to safety. Near the crash site, the squad saw a wounded soldier lying nearby, unable to move. McCloughan ran more than 100 yards through an open field through friendly and enemy crossfire, lifted the soldier over his shoulder and ran back to the company.

Later the same day, during an ambush that inflicted heavy casualties on McCloughan’s platoon, he saved a half-dozen fellow soldiers by charging through the kill zone repeatedly to drag them back to the safety of a trench, sustaining several wounds himself and refusing to be evacuated though bleeding extensively.

On May 14, McCloughan became the sole company medic after the 1st Platoon medic was killed. He braved enemy crossfire several times during a fierce ambush in which he was wounded by shrapnel from a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire while rendering aid in a rice paddy. McCloughan kept braving the crossfire to bring wounded soldiers out. As the battle went into the third day, McCloughan helped strike a blow by taking out an RPG position with a grenade, and he continued to put himself in harm’s way to extract the wounded and render care.