Downstate Medal of Honor winner humble in accepting award

A downstate man will be the first service member or former service member to receive the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump.

Former U.S. Army combat medic James C. McCloughan of South Haven is scheduled to receive the nation’s highest military honor in ceremonies in the White House on July 31, administration officials confirmed this week. The decoration, given for valor, will cite “conspicuous gallantry” during the Vietnam War.

“I’m very humbled, very humbled. And, of course — as many individuals who are blessed to receive something like this — I’m receiving it for all of my men,” McCloughan said in a Detroit News story.

McCloughan, 71, a retired school teacher, was assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. During two days of close-combat fighting against enemy forces near Don Que, Vietnam, from May 13-15, 1969, Private First Class McCloughan is credited with saving the lives of 10 members of his platoon as well as a Vietnamese interpreter, despite being wounded on three separate occasions.

The fighting on those days, unit members recalled, was especially desperate.

“He suffered wounds from shrapnel and small arms fire on three separate occasions, but refused medical evacuation to stay with his unit and continued to brave enemy fire to rescue, treat and defend wounded Americans,” a White House statement detailed.

“Eighty-nine of us went into the battle, and 32 walked out,” McCloughan said for the News story. “Twelve gave their lives, and one was missing in action and died later on, so 13 all told gave their lives. We had over 30-plus wounded. I saved 10 Americans and one Vietnamese, but who was counting, right?”

It goes without saying that McCloughan represents the very best this great nation can offer. We add our congratulations to the many that are coming his way.