James C McCloughan MOH

b. 30/04/1946 South Haven, Michigan.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 13-15/05/1969 Tam Ky, Nui Yon Hill, Vietnam.

James C McCloughan MOH

McCloughan was born in South Haven, Michigan, on 30 April 1946. He spent his childhood in nearby Bangor, Michigan, after his parents moved there to manage a family farm. At Bangor High School, he became a four-sport varsity athlete and continued his education at Olivet College, where he wrestled and played football and baseball. McCloughan graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology and a teaching certificate, and accepted a teaching and football coaching position at South Haven High School. He was drafted into the United States Army three months later on 29 August 1968.

In September 1968, McCloughan began basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky. As a result of training in athletics and coaching, he had a basic understanding of sports medicine, and thus was sent to Fort Sam Houston after two months of basic training for advanced medical specialist training. He received deployment orders for Vietnam on the last day of training, and was assigned to Company C of the 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry as a combat medic with the rank of private first class, beginning his yearlong combat tour in March 1969. The battalion was part of the Americal Division’s 196th Light Infantry Brigade.

For his actions between 13 and 15 May 1969, McCloughan was recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross, but the award was downgraded to the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, which he received on 10 February 1970. Shortly afterwards, in March, he left Vietnam after his tour of duty ended. Later that year, he was discharged from the army with the rank of specialist 5.

After returning from Vietnam, McCloughan was re-accepted to his job at South Haven High School. In 1972, he received a Master of Arts degree in counseling and psychology from Western Michigan University. He taught psychology at South Haven until his 2008 retirement, which earned him the Michigan Education Association’s 40 years of service award. He coached wrestling for 22 years, and football and baseball for 38 years. McCloughan was awarded the Wolverine Conference Distinguished Service Award for his coaching, and was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1993, the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008. He also spent 25 years as a Michigan High School Athletic Association wrestling official.

In 2009, McCloughan’s former platoon leader revived his Distinguished Service Cross nomination with the assistance of United States Senator Carl Levin of Michigan. Upon Senator Levin’s retirement in 2015, additional assistance was provided by Michigan’s United States Senator Debbie Stabenow. Then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter recommended that it be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, America’s highest military honor, in 2016. On 23 December 2016, then-President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which included legislation allowing for a waiver to the five-year time limit on Medal of Honor awards. Then-Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning signed his Medal of Honor certificate on 27 December 2016, and on 13 June 2017, the White House announced that McCloughan would receive his award from President Donald Trump on 31 July. He was inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on 1 August 2017. McCloughan received his Medal of Honor from President Trump during a White House ceremony on 31 July, which made him the first to receive a Medal of Honor during the Trump administration.

McCloughan is married to Chérie and has two sons, Jamie and Matt, a daughter, Kami, and a stepdaughter, Kara.



Private First Class James C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty from May 13 – 15, 1969, while serving as a combat medic with Company C, 3d Battalion, 21st Infantry, 196th Light Infantry Brigade, Americal Division. The company air assaulted into an area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon Hill. On May 13th, with complete disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade too injured to move and carried him to safety. That same day, 2d Platoon was ordered to search the area near Nui Yon Hill when the platoon was ambushed by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained heavy casualties. With complete disregard for his life and personal safety, Private First Class McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a trench while being wounded by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade. He ignored a direct order to stay back and braved an enemy assault while moving into the “kill zone” on four more occasions to extract wounded comrades. He treated the injured, prepared the evacuation, and though bleeding heavily from shrapnel wounds on his head and body, refused evacuation to safety in order to remain at the battle site with his fellow Soldiers who were heavily outnumbered by North Vietnamese Army forces. On May 14th, the platoon was again ordered to move out towards Nui Yon Hill. Private First Class McCloughan was wounded a second time by small arms fire and shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade while rendering aid to two Soldiers in an open rice paddy. In the final phases of the attack, two companies from the 2d North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Company C’s position on three sides. Private First Class McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life, went into the crossfire numerous times throughout the battle to extract wounded Soldiers, while also fighting the enemy. His relentless and courageous actions inspired and motivated his comrades to fight for their survival. When supplies ran low, Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light in an open area as a marker for a nighttime resupply drop. He remained steadfast while bullets landed all around him and rocket propelled grenades flew over his prone, exposed body. During the morning darkness of May 15th, Private First Class McCloughan knocked out a rocket propelled grenade position with a grenade, fought and eliminated enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties, kept two critically wounded Soldiers alive during the night, and organized the dead and wounded for evacuation at daylight. His timely and courageous actions were instrumental in saving the lives of his fellow Soldiers. Private First Class McCloughan’s personal heroism, professional competence, and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal Division, and the United States Army.