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President to present Irish American with Medal of Honor

James McCloughan in Vietnam


By Ray O’Hanlon

It’s been a while coming, but an Irish American hero of the Vietnam War will today be presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor.

James C. McCloughan from Michigan will receive the nation’s highest military award for gallantry from President Trump at a White House ceremony set for 3 p.m.

Stated the White House website: “Today at the White House, President Donald J. Trump will award the Medal of Honor to former Specialist Five James C. McCloughan, U.S. Army.

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“McCloughan will receive the Medal of Honor for distinguished actions during 48 hours of close-combat fighting against enemy forces near Don Que, Vietnam, from May 13 to 15, 1969.

McCloughan, then 23 years old, voluntarily risked his life on nine separate occasions to rescue wounded and disoriented comrades.

“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.”

McCloughan, a medic, was serving with Company C, 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 196th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division.

After Vietnam, McCloughan spent nearly 40 years teaching and coaching sports at South Haven High School in Michigan.

A member of the Michigan High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, McCloughan, now 71, is married to Chérie McCloughan. They have two sons, Jamie and Matt, one daughter, Kami, and one stepdaughter, Kara.

McCloughan will be the thirteenth Irish American to receive the Medal of Honor as a result of service in Vietnam.

The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry above and beyond the call of duty while: engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery, or self-sacrifice, so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.

There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.

The medal can be won in war or in peacetime and is presented to a winner by the president acting for the U.S. Congress.

Close to 3,500 Medals of Honor have been awarded with over 2,000 of them having been awarded to Irish Americans.

At latest count, 257 Medals of Honor have been awarded to Irish-born recipients.

Before today’s presentation, the most recent Irish American recipient was Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy, who was posthumously awarded the medal for gallantry in Afghanistan during Operation Red Wings in June, 2005.