Vietnam veteran receives medal of honor nearly five decades after serving

Posted at 10:52 PM, Nov 11, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-11 22:52:09-05

MANHATTAN, New York — It took 48 years but U.S. Army combat medic Jim McCloughan is finally getting the recognition he deserves as a hero in Vietnam.

As a medic in 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.

“I’d rather be dead than not to be there to save some of the men that I was able to save,” McCloughan said when he was visiting New York City in September.

In July, President Donald Trump awarded his first Medal of Honor to the 71-year-old McCloughan and five of those he saved were in attendance.

“This medal is not just mine,” McCloughan told PIX11. “It belongs to 89 men who went into that battle. I am just the caretaker for these gentlemen,” he added.

After Vietnam, McCloughan went on to have a great career, coaching 133 high school teams, teaching psychology and sociology. But it wasn’t until he retired in 2008 that those dark terrible time in Vietnam kept coming back to him. He sought help with a counselor named Brian through the veterans administration.

“l told Brian that I saved 10 American soldiers lives but he saved mine,” McCloughan said.

This Veterans Day, McCloughan reconnected with several of the soldiers he knew in Vietnam and singing the songs that mean so much to him, like God Bless America.

The Medal of Honor generally must be awarded within five years of the bravery. Recently, the Department of Defense agreed that he was deserving but it took an act of Congress to waive the time limit. President Barack Obama signed the act, making McCloughan eligible before he left office this year.