In 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter recommended McCloughan for the Medal of Honor. But since the medal must be awarded within five years of the recipient’s actions, Congress needed to pass a bill waiving the time limit. President Barack Obama signed the measure in late 2016, but he didn’t get the opportunity to recognize McCloughan with the medal before his term ended this year.
A soldier survived 48 hours of terror in Vietnam. Today, he received the Medal of Honor.
By Andrew deGrandpre
July 31, 2017
It is difficult to assess which of James McCloughan’s near-death encounters in Vietnam was the most harrowing. There were so many. From the moment his infantry unit hit the field March 9, 1969, they encountered a ferocious enemy determined to repulse the Americans at all costs.
“I got initiated the very first day,” McCloughan, 71, recalled in a recent interview with Army biographers. “We hit our first ambush. We had a man die. Had a few people to patch up. And I shot a man. That’s a lot to digest in your first day.
“But I didn’t know I was going to face anything like Tam Ky,” he added, alluding to the location of a vicious 48-hour battle, three months after he arrived in Vietnam, during which the 23-year-old combat medic risked his life at least nine times to save wounded or stranded comrades — 10 men in all — and prevented a much larger North Vietnamese force from overrunning them entirely.
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