There’s an old saying that “good things come to those who wait,” but 48 years is a long time to wait for anyone. However, that wait won’t last much longer for former Spc. 3 Jim McCloughan, who has been cleared to receive the Medal of Honor on July 31, according to a White House press release.
According to the Army Times, the award to Jim McCloughan had been approved by the Obama administration, but the White House was in transition to the Trump administration and McCloughan's award fell by the wayside for several months until it could be signed by the acting Army secretary and the new president.
McCloughan, who saved the lives of 10 soldiers during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in May 1969 in Vietnam, will become the first person to be awarded the nation's highest military honor by President Donald Trump.
Now 71 years old , McCloughan had been waiting for the call from the White House for six months, but the event was a decade in the making, since his 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.
McCloughan was originally put in for the DSC after the May 1969 battle, but the award was downgraded to a Bronze Star with "V" device, he told Army Times. His former platoon leader revived the nomination in 2009 and former Defense Secretary Ash Carter saw fit to upgrade it to a Medal of Honor, but it was put on hold during the presidential transition.
Then another problem surfaced. According to regulation, the military's highest award for valor must be awarded within five years of the action. At this point, Michigan lawmakers Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Fred Upton got involved and an exception was written into legislation and passed in December.
Jim McCloughan’s long wait will end on July 31, 2017.
Beau Weisman, Editor