• Photos courtesy of James McCloughan
    James McCloughan, in basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., shows his gun, which he has partially disassembled.
  • Courtesy Photo
    James McCloughan is shown here in Chu Lai, Vietnam, at the headquarters for Americal Division. 'We were back for what was called a stand-down,' he said. 'Every once in a while they would pull us out of the field and give us four days with steak and stuff like that.'

Medal of Honor to be awarded 48 years after action

By Roxanne Thompson, Staff Writer

An Army veteran from Michigan is to be awarded the Medal of Honor later this month for heroic actions he took in Vietnam 48 years ago – and he will be the first Medal of Honor recipient awarded by President Donald Trump.

Also, it turns out the veteran has a Limestone connection since his cousin, Claude Monk, lives in Tehuacana; and the whole family is happy to learn of this development.

“I think Jim did a good service for our country,” Monk said, “and we’re all really proud of him.”

James C. “Jim” McCloughan (Mick-clúe-in), of South Haven, Mich., will be awarded the Medal of Honor in a ceremony on Monday, July 31, in Washington, D.C. The following day, Aug. 1, he will be inducted into the Medal of Honor Heroes Hall of Fame, at the Pentagon.

 

48-hour battle

The actions for which McCloughan is to be honored took place during a 48-hour battle May 13-15, 1969, in Vietnam while he was serving as an Army medic and saved the lives of ten of his fellow soldiers.

The incident began when McCloughan was one of 89 men flown by helicopters into a landing zone that was being fired upon; consequently, the helicopters could not land safely.

The larger area was called Tam Ky, and the focus was on a place called Nui Yon Hill.

“We had to jump from about 10 feet in the air – with our full packs and everything on – to the ground,” McCloughan said. “So we had men who got injured before the battle ever started.”

There had been no reconnaissance patrols in advance, so they did not know until later that the place was full of enemy fighters, an estimated 1,500-2,000 North Vietnamese Army soldiers and 700 Viet Cong, which were South Vietnamese Communist fighters. Two of the 13 helicopters that brought in the soldiers were shot down right away.

“So, we land on our feet, jump out, set up a perimeter, and one of the helicopters that got shot down was able to get another helicopter to come out and pick up the crew and get them out of there,” McCloughan said. “But one of the other helicopters that was up there about 200 meters from where we were located couldn’t get a helicopter in because every time they tried, those helicopters were getting shot at, too.”

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.

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