WASHINGTON (Army News Service) — The White House announced today that on
July 31, President Donald Trump will present the Medal of Honor to Spc. 5 James C.
McCloughan’s valorous actions occurred during 48 hours of intense fighting against
enemy forces on Nui Yon Hill near Tam Kỳ, South Vietnam, May 13 to 15, 1969. The
combat medic was serving with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment,
196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.
A private first class at the time, McCloughan 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.”
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
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.
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 this life, went into the crossfire
numerous times throughout the battle to extract wounded Soldiers, while also fighting
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.
During the battle, 17 men were lost to enemy fire and many more were wounded, he
said. Over the 48-hour battle McCloughan risked his life on nine separate occasions
and is credited with saving the lives of 10 members of his company.
McCloughan admitted that during the intense battle, it was surreal to be shooting at
the enemy one moment and treating wounded North Vietnamese soldiers, as well as
American Soldiers, the next.