Vietnam War Veteran Awarded Medal of Honor at White House

U.S. President Donald Trump awards the Medal of Honor to James McCloughan, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, U.S. July 31, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

President Trump awarded James McCloughan of South Haven, Mich., the Medal of Honor on Monday afternoon for bravery displayed on a battlefield in Vietnam 48 years ago when he repeatedly risked his own life to save others.

“We honor you, we salute you and with God as your witness we thank you for all that you have done for us,” said Trump as he awarded McCloughan, 71, the nation’s highest military award.

McCloughan — who was a private first class when the events occurred and rose to the rank of specialist 5 before returning to Michigan to become a beloved teacher and coach — looked emotional after Trump clasped the award around his neck, saying, “Thank you,” to the president. After a handshake, the two men embraced.

As a medic at the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in May 1969, McCloughan is credited with saving 10 members of his platoon, rushing back again and again onto the battlefield to save other soldiers despite his own injuries from a battle that lasted two days. Five of those he saved were in attendance as was his family, Trump said.

“It was as if the strength and the pride of our whole nation were beating inside Jim’s heart,” Trump said as he described McCloughan’s repeated attempts to rescue the wounded. “He just kept on going.”

It was Trump’s first awarding of the medal, and he appeared subdued and grateful to McCloughan, who stood near him throughout the ceremony. Also attending were newly installed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other members of the president’s Cabinet and staff.

Trump noted that McCloughan’s father, who worked in a piano factory, first told McCloughan to “never do anything halfway.” Trump described the man his platoon called “Doc” as “a veteran who went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our comrades, our country and our freedom.”

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SOURCE: USA Today; Detroit Free Press, Todd Spangler