Trump awards first Medal of Honor to Vietnam vet

Trump awards first Medal of Honor to Vietnam vet

Trump awards first Medal of Honor to Vietnam vet

Ignoring his lieutenant's orders to evacuate Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam after shrapnel cut into his head and back and a bullet pierced his arm, the 23-year-old Army medic ran through "hell" and "gave it his all and then ... just kept giving", President Trump said Monday, bestowing McCloughan with the Medal of Honor nearly 50 years after that intense battle.

Over the two-day battle, McCloughan voluntarily risked his life seven more times, according to an account of the battle released by the White House, returning fire and, in one case, taking out an enemy rocket-propelled grenade position.

In an interview in June, when it was announced that he would receive the honor, he said modestly: 'I wasn't counting I was just doing what I had to do. "We are in awe of your actions and your bravery".

The White House ceremony marked the first time that Trump has presented the nation's highest combat award.

"They called me 'Doc, ' McCloughan said in a short Army video released in conjunction with the award ceremony".

McCloughan has already received numerous awards, including two Purple Hearts but didn't meet the requirements for a Medal of Honor.

McCloughan, of South Haven, Michigan, was presented the Medal of Honor by President Trump on Monday. As the president and commander in chief shook McCloughan's hand, Trump said "very proud of you" and then pulled the former soldier into an embrace. He was discharged from the Army with the rank of Specialist 5.

The life-long Wolverine returned to his hometown and taught sociology and psychology at South Haven High School as well as coached baseball and football, recently retiring after four decades of service to his community.

The Medal of Honor generally must be awarded within five years of the actions that justify it.

"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. After the battle, he was recommended for a Distinguished Service Cross, but that was downgraded to a Bronze Star with a Valor device.

The Army determined after that the battle reduced McCloughan's company to just 32 men with 1,500 North Vietnamese Army and 700 Vietcong surrounding them.

McCloughan is credited with saving the lives of at least ten men in his platoon.

Typically recipients needed to be honored within five years.

Then-Pfc. James McCloughan in front of the Vietnam Regional Exchange Snack Shop, 1969.

"I held 18, 19, or 20-year-old men in my arms, and I heard their last words, and I saw them take their last breath", he said. They came under immediate attack, and two US helicopters were shot down.

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