President Donald Trump will present the first Medal of Honor of his administration today to James McCloughan, a Vietnam War hero from Michigan who is credited with saving the lives of 10 men. The ceremony began at 3:00 p.m. ET in the White House East Room. You can watch the complete ceremony below.
The 71-year-old McCloughan, who lives in South Haven, Michigan, is being honored for his actions on May 13-15, 1969 near Tam Kỳ and Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam. As his Army bio notes, McCloughan saved the lives of 10 men during a 48-hour stretch of heavy combat while suffering injuries himself. ON the first day of the battle, he saved six fellow soldiers alone, even after suffering a shrapnel wound from a rocket-propelled grenade.
Although he was bleeding extensively, McCloughan refused to be evacuated. On the second day, his company lost their only other medic and he was injured again while saving more men.
“I had refused the day before, by the way, to get on a helicopter,” McCloughan recently told WBUR. “I refused to get on because I knew that they were gonna need me. I got close enough to hell to see, like, lava coming down off that of that hill from a distance, that’s how many people were on that hill. And, so now I knew when Dan [Shea] had been killed that now I had made the right decision to stay because now I was the only medic left to do that job.”
McCloughan was drafted at age 22 in 1968 and served in Vietnam until March 1970. After his tour was over, he returned to South Haven, where he became a high school teacher and athletics coach. Now retired, he is a member of the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, the Michigan School Coaches Hall of Fame and the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame. His other military decorations include two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts.
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military honor for action against an enemy force and has been presented since 1861. As CNN notes, President Barack Obama presented 52 Medals of Honor during his administration.