U.S. Army medic to be awarded Medal of Honor for Vietnam War heroism

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A 71-year-old former Army medic from Michigan who saved wounded comrades under fire during the Vietnam War will be given the highest U.S. military award by President Donald Trump at a White House ceremony on Monday.

James McCloughan, a retired high school teacher and coach from South Haven, is set to receive the Medal of Honor for his valor in saving the lives of 10 members of his platoon at the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in May 1969.

It will be the first Medal of Honor awarded by Trump since he took office in January.

McCloughan was a 23-year-old serving as am Americal Division medic when he returned to the battlefield multiple times over 48 hours of fighting to retrieve the wounded soldiers, despite being hit himself with shrapnel and gunfire, the Defense Department said.

McCloughan refused to be evacuated to treat his wounds and held a blinking light in an open area at night for a resupply air drop, the Pentagon said. He also destroyed a North Vietnamese Army position with a grenade. McCloughan left the service with a rank of specialist five and returned to Michigan.

He taught psychology and sociology at South Haven High School and coached football, wrestling and baseball. He is a member of the Michigan High School Coaches Hall of Fame. South Haven is about 180 miles (290 km) west of Detroit.

The Medal of Honor generally must be awarded within five years of the actions that merit it. A former platoon leader began campaigning in 2009 for McCloughan to get the award, resulting in an act of Congress in December to waive the time limit.

President Barack Obama signed the act making McCloughan eligible for the medal before he left office.

Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jeffrey Benkoe