Many people in the United States today have gone way out of their way to make sure that all the veterans who come back from active duty feel loved and appreciated. Not that there’s anything we can do to completely make up for the sacrifice that many make, but anything we can do, we definitely should.
Unfortunately, that was not always the case. Many of you reading this may remember the pain and suffering that those who’d already given up pieces of themselves for our country had to suffer when they came back to the United States after the Vietnam War. Those who thought that the conflict was a bad idea decided to make sure that those who were fighting for Uncle Sam felt their displeasure. This meant that what was an already traumatic transition back to civilian life became a nightmare for those who’d already gone through more than enough in the jungles.
Sadly those soldiers, sailors, and airmen were overlooked in more ways than one; while we now recognize how valuable their contributions were to our country and the people of Vietnam, to date no veteran from the Vietnam War has received the medal of honor. That wrong is about to be righted when President Trump bestows this honor on Vietnam Veteran James C. McCloughan.
Via Daily Caller:
“Donald Trump will present his first Medal of Honor to [a] veteran from the Vietnam War who risked his life to rescue fellow soldiers.
The White House announced Tuesday that the president will bestow the nation’s highest military award on former Specialist Five James C. McCloughan during a ceremony in late July — nearly five decades after his service. McCloughan, who was 23 years old at the time, is credited with risking his life nine separate times within a 48-hour window to rescue his wounded comrades in Vietnam in May 1969.
‘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,’ Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted in his announcement.
After his time as a medic in Vietnam ended, McCloughan returned to Michigan to teach psychology, sociology, and geography and coach football, wrestling, and baseball at South Haven High School. He lives there with his wife and four children.
‘I’m not a hero,’ McCloughan has said in previous interviews. ‘I just did my job. I’m not a hero. There’s a bunch of heroes there, a bunch of heroes. You know, any veteran will tell you the real heroes, they’re not here with us.’
McCloughan told the Army Times that he found out on May 25 that he would receive the award.”
McCloughan says that he’s not a hero, but I think the implication is that he’s not the only hero. He no doubt forged friendships that were more akin to a bond of brothers, and some of those brothers didn’t make it home. This doesn’t make their sacrifice any less than his, it just means that they can’t come in person to receive a medal like McCloughan can.
Here’s a little more about his story courtesy of the Army Times:
Late last year, former Spc. Jim McCloughan was close enough to taste it. After then-President Obama signed a provision included in the annual defense authorization bill, McCloughan was cleared to receive the Medal of Honor.
But the White House was in the midst of a transition to the Trump administration, and so McCloughan’s award fell by the wayside for several months, until it could be signed by the acting Army secretary and the new president.
Then, on May 25, he got the call, McCloughan told Army Times in a Thursday interview. He was told to be by the phone the following Tuesday afternoon.
” ‘I have the president of the United States on the other line.’ ” he recalled the Army captain on the other line saying. “I said, ‘Can my wife pick up another phone?’ “
He will receive the award on July 31, according to a White House press release.
McCloughan, 71, had been waiting for the call for six months, but the event was a decade in the making, since family started reaching out to his local Michigan lawmakers about putting McCloughan in for the Distinguished Service Cross, to recognize him for his bravery as a combat medic in Vietnam back in 1969.
“When the squad and crew members reached the company perimeter, a wounded soldier was laying on the ground, too injured to move,” according to the official award narrative. “McCloughan ran 100 meters in an open field through the crossfire of his company and the charging, platoon-sized North Vietnamese Army. Upon reaching the wounded soldier, Pfc. McCloughan shouldered him and raced back to the company, saving him from being captured or killed.”
McCloughan was 23 years-old and assigned to C Company, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill, a gruesome two-day battle that left dozens killed, wounded or missing in action.
Then-Pfc. McCloughan was originally put in for the DSC after the May 1969 battle, but had the award downgraded to a Bronze Star with “V” device, he told Army Times.
His former platoon leader revived the nomination in 2009, he said, and former Defense Secretary Ash Carter saw fit to upgrade it to a Medal of Honor.
But per regulation, the military’s highest award for valor must be awarded within five years of the action. Michigan lawmakers Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Fred Upton got the exception written into legislation and passed in December.
“This medal is all about love,” McCloughan said. “It’s a love story so deep in my soul that’s it’s truly immeasurable.”
Obviously, this medal isn’t enough to really say all the thanks that we need to say to those who sacrificed for us, but we’ve got to start somewhere. This being the first medal of honor to go to a soldier from Vietnam is a monumental event to many because of the horrible treatment that they received when they came home, however, so many of them taught us so much about honor and loyalty, even while being made collateral damage in a petty political vendetta.
So we salute McCloughan and his thousands of brothers and sisters in uniform to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude. Your sacrifice is not forgotten.
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