Almost 50 years later, an American hero is finally getting his due for an act of bravery.
On Monday President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S. Military's highest honor, to Army medic James C. McCloughan. It was the first of the medals President Trump handed out, and it couldn't have gone to anyone more deserving.
McCloughan became an unlikely hero when his company, Charlie Company, was ambushed and surrounded by Vietnamese soldiers in 1969. The company was attacked over and over, and their helicopters were shot down.
To make things even worse, the company's only other medic was killed, meaning 23-year-old McCloughan was responsible for all the men in Charlie Company. For 3 days he went without food or water, working to rescue and protect his fellow soldiers.
“He would not yield. He would not rest. He would not stop. And he would not flinch in the face of sure death and definite danger,” President Trump said during the ceremony.
“Though he was thousands of miles from home, it was as if the strength and pride of our whole nation was beating inside Jim’s heart.”
But the worst was yet to come for McCloughan.
Find out how McCloughan survived the ambush on the next page!
Again and again, McCloughan ran towards danger to rescue his men and save their lives.
McCloughan risked his own life 9 times to save other soldiers. Bullets hit the ground close enough for him to watch them bounce, and he was wounded on his arm and head by a grenade.
But even when an officer ordered McCloughan to be medically evacuated he refused to leave the other soldiers behind.
“He knew me enough to know that I wasn’t going,” McCloughan told the Associated Press. When Charlie Company was finally rescued 3 days later, McCloughan got into a helicopter and collapsed from exhaustion.
While the medic was awarded with the Bronze Star for his courage, he was never nominated for the Medal of Honor. It took almost 40 years for his heroism to be recognized, and a special vote from Congress - since he was past the 5-year deadline to receive the medal.
Today, McCloughan is retired, but after the war he distinguished himself again as a teacher at Michigan's South Haven High School, and is in multiple Halls of Fame for his work as a sports coach at the school.
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