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Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan: Pentagon Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony

Spc. 5 James C. McCloughan: Pentagon Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony

Specialist McCloughan
was awarded our nation’s highest and most
prestigious award for valor by the President of the United
States, the Medal of Honor. This morning, he
will formally be inducted into the Pentagon’s
most sacred place, the Hall of Heroes. Our hosts for today’s
ceremony are the Secretary of Defense, the Honorable James
Mattis, the acting Secretary of the Army, the
Honorable Robert M. Speer, the Chief of
Staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley,
and the Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniel A. Dailey. Ladies and gentlemen,
please stand for the arrival of
the official party, and remain standing for the
singing of our national anthem, by Master Sergeant Clifton
Ogea, and the invocation delivered by
Chaplain Paul Hurley. (SINGING) Oh say, can you
see by the dawn’s early light what so proudly we hailed at
the twilight’s last gleaming, whose broad stripes and bright
stars through the perilous fight o’er the
ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming. And the rocket’s red glare,
the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there. Oh say, does that star
spangled banner yet wave o’er the land of the free and
the home of the brave. Let us begin in prayer
with these sacred words. “No one has greater
love than this, to lay down one’s life
for one’s friends.” Let us pray. Almighty God, thank You,
for this time together and the privilege to serve
You and our great nation. Our spirits are strengthened
by Your presence and Your gift to us in the life of
Specialist Five James McCloughan and his family. His acts of courage and love
nearly half a century ago forever witness to
Your love for all. Impart to us today, oh
Lord, as an Army family, even greater faith,
greater courage, and greater devotion
to all called to serve and all who trace the
actions of Specialist Five McCloughan and his family. Bless us all now and always
with Your everlasting peace. Amen. Please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen,
General Milley. [APPLAUSE] What a great day we have today. 48 years late, but
what a great day to honor the valor of
Spec Five, Jim McCloughan. And Jim has been an American
hero both in uniform and out of uniform. And I want to welcome
everyone here today. It’s a distinct
honor for the Army, a distinct honor for the
Department of Defense, a distinct honor for
the entire nation. And as you grow up, you
start reading history books about our country, about
these great United States. And you uncover stories of
folks in uniform and out of uniform who have courage
above and beyond the call of duty. And those stories seem unreal. They seem that they occurred
in incredible circumstances and against often
insurmountable odds. Well today, we celebrate
one of those stories. And we are lucky to
have him here today in the form of Specialist
Jim McCloughan. He’s a living example of
all that we all should be. His entry into the ranks of
our greatest national heroes as a recipient of the
Congressional Medal of Honor is 48 years overdue. And thanks to the men
of Charlie Tigers, Charlie Company 3rd
Battalion 21st Infantry, for your personal
years of persistence to ensure that Jim’s
valor was duly recognized. And many of Jim’s
teammates are here with us today, as we add Jim’s name
alongside the 3,498 others who wear the Congressional
Medal of Honor. I’d like to extend a special
welcome to Jim’s family, to both his wife, Cherie, and
his two sons, James and Matt, and both of his brothers,
Michael and Thomas, who are all here today. And thank you, for being
here to honor Jim’s bravery and courage. And thanks also to the members
of Charlie Company 321, are here with us today. We’ve got William
Arnold and Randall Clark, who was the PL at the
time, Michael Martino, Charles Matthews, Joseph Middendorf,
Kent Nielsen, Robert Pace, Michael Snyder,
and [INAUDIBLE].. There were many others
in the company that day, but that’s who’s
here with us today. And if you could, honor us
by standing to be recognized. [APPLAUSE] Without them, Jim wouldn’t
be receiving this medal. So thanks, for all you’ve done. And welcome to all the
distinguished visitors. There’s really too many
to recognize, but I do want to recognize Senator
Peters from Michigan, of course, Secretary of Defense, General
Mattis, the acting Secretary of the Army, Speer. And most significantly,
we’ve got six other Congressional Medal
of Honor winners here today. And I’d just like to give
them also round of applause for your heroism and courage. [APPLAUSE] So Secretary Mattis is going to
describe the individual valor that Jim exhibited on those
fateful days from 13 to 15 May, 1969. And I’d like to give you
a little bit of context. So let’s step back
in time a bit to 1968 when Jim was drafted
with four other young men from Van Buren County,
Michigan and assigned to be trained as a combat
medic with basic training at Fort Knox and
AIT in San Antonio. And Jim was roughly one of
25,000 young men being called into service each month
that year, as the United States reached its peak
troop levels in Vietnam, with over 536,000 soldiers,
Marines, sailors, and airmen deployed across 67,000
square miles in four core tactical zones, with
terrain ranging from the swamps and rice paddies of
the Mekong delta, to the hills and jungles
of the central highlands. American allies, such as
Australia, and South Korea, and New Zealand,
and the Philippines, along with Thailand,
had thousands of forces fighting alongside
South Vietnamese ARVN forces and American troops. Lyndon Johnson was our
president when Jim was drafted. And then, at the turn of the
new year, in January 1969, the North Vietnamese launched
their second Tet Offensive, known as Tet 69,
just as Richard Nixon was being sworn in and
inaugurated as our president. The American people had been
shocked in the previous year at that Tet Offensive, Tet 68. The war was widely seen,
by 1969, as deadlocked and highly controversial at
home with protests and riots on America’s streets. Nixon promised to find an
honorable end to the war and turn the war over to the
Vietnamese in a strategy called Vietnamization. At 5′ 5″ and 130
pounds, Jim McCloughan left the United States and
arrived in Vietnam on 7 March, 1969, assigned to
HAC 321 Infantry and attached as a combat
medic to Charlie Company. When Jim left the United States,
a gallon of gas was only $0.35. “Aquarius” was the number one
song by the 5th Dimension. Our national debt–
imagine this– our national debt was
$365 billion, half of the DOD budget today. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance
Kid was the number one movie, and Abbey Road was the
best selling album. The Kansas City Chiefs,
whoever they may be, won the Super Bowl. [LAUGHTER] And unfortunately,
President Eisenhower died the same month Jim set foot
in a totally different world of Vietnam, thousands of miles
away from family, friends, and home. 321 Infantry was part of
the newly-formed 196th Light Infantry Brigade, operating in
the first corps tactical zone out of Chu Li in the northern
portion of South Vietnam, as part of the newly-formed
Americal Division. The 195th had participated
in several operations, famous ones, like
Attleboro, and smaller ones, like Frederick Hill, which
began in March of 1969, only two weeks
after Jim’s arrival, with the purpose of
searching and destroying enemy positions in their
area of responsibility. Less than 60 days
later, the reports of enemy concentrations in
the vicinity of Nui Lon Hill, near the South Vietnamese
village of Tam Ky. 321, with five of
its line companies, got the mission
to seize the hill. And Charlie Tigers was tasked
to conduct a combat air assault to establish blocking
positions, while other units were to flush the enemy. Unfortunately, reconnaissance
and observation was not done, and the men of Charlie
Company had little idea what they were up against in
this classic hammer and anvil operation, a search and
destroy operation, which was typical of ground
operations by the United States in Vietnam. On 13 May, 1969, the
weather was hot– stifling humidity of the
heat and tropical climate of South Vietnam– as 89 brave American
soldiers and Charlie Tigers went wheels up from
LZ Center, a firebase, what we would now call
a forward operating base, in the Western portion
of Quang Nam Province, designed to house artillery
in the battalion headquarters. Jim was among the 89, getting
out of the UH-1 slicks with a 130-pound rucksack
full of medical kit to ensure he could
care for his troops. A short while later, they landed
on a hot LZ in close proximity of somewhere between
2,000 and 2,500 enemy, consisting of elements
of at least two companies of the North
Vietnamese regulars, of the 2nd NVA
Division, augmented with somewhere between one and
two regiments of Viet Cong. For two days,
outnumbered 28 to one, these young men
of Charlie Tigers were in a fight for their lives,
defending against unrelenting assaults from the enemy. By the end of it, Nui Lon
hill was cleared and taken, but of heavy cost to the
men of Charlie Company, with 12 killed, 30 wounded,
and one missing in action. Only 46 came away from
the battle unscathed. And Jim was wounded three times. 50% of Charlie Company
were casualties in just 48 hours, which
speaks to the intensity of the fighting. Those are statistics
that match some of the most brutal
fighting at places like Shiloh, the Meuse-Argonne,
Bastogne, and even Iwo Jima. Although we honor the incredible
heroism of Jim McCloughan today, every one of those men
was a hero in his own right. Every one of them
displayed uncommon valor against a vastly superior enemy. And Jim will be the
first to tell everybody he’s wearing this
Medal of Honor not for himself, but for
the company of heroes that he bled with
in May of 1969. Today, we honor Jim
McCloughan, a man of conviction and of courage, a man who
went above and beyond the call of duty. And by honoring him,
we honor those heroes who fought, bled, and
died with him in a battle to defend their
country and its ideals. Every one of you
in Charlie Company, every soldier there, is an
inspiration to all of us that are alive today. And Jim, you
represent all of them. Today, you are our hero. But you are all our heroes. Thanks, for your heroism. Thanks, for your humanity. Thanks, for who you are. You represent all that is
good in the American soldier and our way of life. Army strong. [APPLAUSE] Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Speer. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, General Milley. Good morning. I’m thrilled to be
here this morning to have the privilege
to pay tribute to the courage, commitment, and
fidelity of James McCloughan. First, let me welcome all the
distinguished guests here today and to offer this long
overdue recognition. Most important, welcome to Jim
McCloughan and his families– his traditional
family, those with whom he shares a kinship,
and his other family, the brothers in arms, and whom
experienced unimaginable– to the men of Charlie Company
and 3rd Battalion 21st Infantry Regiment, the 196th
Light Infantry Brigade of the
Americal Division, and to the other Medal
of Honor recipients here today, it is an absolute
honor to be in your company. Today, as we add
Specialist McCloughan to the Hall of
Heroes, of course, many know him simply as “Doc”,
a moniker he’s proud of. In fact, as I
understand it, when he reconnected with
his warrior brothers he hadn’t seen in in
over four decades, they had no idea who Jim
was, until he told them he was “Doc McCloughan.” General Douglas
MacArthur credited athletics with preparing men
for the challenges of battle, writing, “Upon the
fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that, upon
other fields, on other days, will bear the
fruits of victory.” Jim is a prime example. A standout athlete, Jim
attended Olivet College where he excelled at wrestling,
football, and baseball. Athletics was his passion,
and he wanted nothing more than to return to South
Haven, Michigan, to coach and teach. However, the nation called him. And being a patriot, like
his uncle in the Korean War, his father in World War II, and
his grandfather in World War I, Jim McCloughan served his
country in its time of need. What does it mean to distinguish
oneself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity,
at the risk of one’s life, above and beyond
the call of duty, the criteria by which the
Medal of Honor recommendations are judged? The criterion has
been defined not being of simple
discharge of duty, but to acts beyond
the duty, if refused, the person should not
be subject to criticism. Consider for the moment “above
and beyond the call of duty.” The duty is an action
so bold and so dangerous that not acting
would be reasonable. It has been said, the
bravest are surely those who have the
clearest vision of what is before them, glory
and danger alike, and yet, notwithstanding,
go out to meet it. Dick– Joe– I’m sorry– Doc
McCloughan certainly knew the danger that lay before
him and his men, his brothers. However, not acting was
against his character. As an athlete with 11
high school and seven collegiate varsity letters, he
had been in several pressure situations before,
circumstances requiring a leader to rise above the occasion,
to make the great play, and to demonstrate
determination, and persevere despite the odds. In the face of death, in a
fury a persistent enemy fire, Doc rose to the occasion. Repeatedly, he risked his life
so other men would persevere. Without food, without sleep,
and using his own limited water to treat the wounded, Doc
persevered for his brothers. Wounded on the first day,
he had the opportunity to leave the battle. In fact, his commander
ordered him to do just that. But Doc wasn’t going to
abandon his men, his teammates, in their greatest
need, so he stayed. He was wounded twice
more the following day, yet he continued to treat
and inspire his men. And only after binding their
wounds, did he tend to his own. Jim is fond of telling
people that life is about the moments
of inspiration. Jim recalls having such a
moment in the heat of battle, so inspiring that I asked him
about it on a phone call this last Friday. And yesterday, President
Trump related the moment during the White House
Medal of Honor Ceremony, confirming the power
of the emotional story. While tending to
a wounded brother, Jim had a realization
that he hadn’t told his father that he loved
him since he was a little boy. And after all, the sons
didn’t tell fathers that back in the 1950s and ’60s. At that moment, Jim McCloughan
made a pact with God. He said, God, if you get
me out of this hellhole, I promise I will be
the absolute best father, best coach, and best
teacher I possibly can be. And I will hug my father and
tell him that I love him. Well, it appears
that they each upheld the end of the agreement. Jim is here with us today. He has been inducted into
six athletic coaching hall of fames. He and his wife, Cherie, have
raised incredibly accomplished children. Jim has coached 133
teams over 38 years, as well as officiating
wrestling for over 20 years, including numerous state finals. Jim taught psychology and
sociology for over 40 years. I did have one final
question, though. So during our call I
asked, did you finally tell your father you loved him? Jim’s response, oh, yes. As soon as I saw him at
the airport in Chicago, I gave him a huge hug
and told him I loved him. Jim’s story was particularly
touching for me, as I thought of my own dad. As a teenager, I lived
in Schilling Manor, Salina, Kansas– nickname, Waiting Wife’s Home. There was only there about
7,000 military families over the time period. Even as kids, we were keenly
aware of the notification wagon, the chaplain’s car
that would periodically slow down, drive
down the street, tightening the
chest of onlookers, praying that it would
continue past their home, who felt relieved when
it did pass, then ashamed that their
relief in the moment was another family’s future
would soon be destroyed. Identical scenes played out
across the military bases across our country. But for the families of
those drafted, many of whom preferred to remain
in communities, notifications were
sudden and unfamiliar, leaving families
devastated, without support. Jim McCloughan prevented
this from being the story for
countless families, families who today
don’t visit their sons, or their brother, their
father, or their husband, as a name carved in
a black granite wall just 3 and 1/2 miles from here. Jim is the 261st
recipient the Medal of Honor for actions
in Vietnam, 18 of which US Army Medical personnel. Eight of those earned
the medal posthumously, including Private
1st Class Daniel Shea, amazingly,
the other company medic at the Battle of Tam Ky. Jim McCloughan will
wear his Medal of Honor for those individual exploits,
whose courageous acts and whose valor in the
face of overwhelming odds, lost, consumed by the noise,
chaos, and confusion of battle. He, like every other
Medal of Honor recipient, is the first to say
he isn’t a hero. Rather, the heroes are the
ones that didn’t make it home. I think you’d get
plenty of argument from some of those
he has impacted. Because of Doc’s action,
productive lives were led, weddings were attended, children
and grandchildren were born, and untold achievements
were accomplished. Firsthand accounts credit
Doc with personally rescuing at least 10 Americans
at Tam Ky and saving the lives of many others
with his medical skill that he had with
other engagements. Several of those men
join us here today. Wearing the Medal of Honor is
certainly an enormous honor, but with it comes
distinct burden of having a constant reminder,
of reliving the worst experience of a
recipient’s life, memories being
hopelessly terrifying, the sights and sounds
of battlefield carnage, the screams of men,
their own painful wounds, and the permanence of death. Those who wear the Medal are
asked to recount these events over and over. Yet they do so
willingly, for it is how they’re best able to
honor their fallen brothers and sisters. Throughout the
process, verifying the individual
accounts of the battle, as well as the earlier
interviews Jim has done, he has been the
model of humility, constantly mindful
of the sacrifice made by others and the
legacy of their heroism. He has always been
unpretentious about the actions, to avoid diminishing others. To this day, he
remains adamant– he was simply doing
his job for his team. The Medal of Honor
is the highest award for valor in combat, and
Jim wears it proudly. But he’ll tell you that, despite
all the medals presented, to him, it means that his
actions over three days, over 48 years ago, were
recognized by his teammates. Their witness accounts and
steadfast determination to see heroic actions
properly recognized are his greatest honor. During the hours of interview
that Jim has provided, he remained absolutely
stoic, even as he recounted the battle tremendous details. In fact, he only gets emotional
when he speaks of the day that he left his battle buddies. Jim McCloughan is a proud
soldier for life and ambassador of the United States Army
and our sister services. Among the messages
he delivers is one of resiliency and preparedness. Jim’s parents instilled
him a sense of compassion and raised him to
consider others. Athletics provided Jim his sense
of teamwork and commitment. Athletics provided Jim his sense
of teamwork and commitment. His spirituality
provided him reassurance. The combination of
these makes it clear why Jim would not let others
down in their time in need where he summoned his physical,
mental, and emotional endurance to persevere under the
most extreme circumstances. If you prepare for the
unknown and the unknowable, when the unthinkable
happens, you’ll be ready. As Jim says, everyone
has their Vietnam. It isn’t only in war, life
also presents challenges. And being resilient allows
us to overcome these. Jim returned to athletics
and education after the Army. And he instilled the
principles into young people he coached, taught, and mentored. Now Jim has another
platform from which to continue to spread a message
of resiliency and readiness. And I’m certain he’ll
continue to inspire others. Jim, Doc, it is a distinct
honor to participate in your induction in
the Hall of Heroes. Thank you, for your lifetime
of service to our nation. You are an
inspiration to us all. [APPLAUSE] Ladies and gentlemen,
Secretary Mattis. [APPLAUSE] Good morning, ladies
and gentlemen. G.K. Chesterton
once said, “Courage is almost a
contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live
taking the form of a readiness to die. He must seek his life in a
spirit of furious indifference to it. He must desire life like water,
and yet drink death like wine.” Senator Peters, Deputy Secretary
Shanahan, Secretary Speer, wonderful words. General Milley, great words. Sergeant Major Daley,
but most of all to Charley Tigers and
Specialist Five Jim McCloughan– Cherie, you married well
to a most wonderful person. They met at The Messiah– a reminder for all you young
troops to go to church. [LAUGHTER] To the holders of
the Medal of Honor who are here today, between
you, Charlie’s Tigers, and Jim, you remind us of the gravity
of the decisions we make in this building, the support
we owe in this building, and the enduring
truths of combat, the need for a level
of physical stamina that goes beyond
words to describe it. And I would just tell you that
you, your example, your story, are welcome here,
with all the humbling impact it has on every one
of us, regardless of rank. You’re a comrade in
arms who reminds us what it is we’re all about. “Left unsung–” a Greek poet
wrote many, many years ago, a couple of thousand– “Left unsung, even the
noblest deed will die.” and thanks to the
US Congress, we are now going to make certain
that that story will not die when Charlie’s Tigers
move on to meet their buddies. We will not deprive
the rising generation of this vision of valor. For in the fullness
of time, they will give us the heroes that
we hold them up to be for life. And that’s exactly what will
happen in this building, as each generation of warriors
comes through the US military. Today Jim, we hold you up. And I’d tell you, sir, that
while this honor is long overdue, it comes in earnest. We are very, very honored
to have you, your bride, and your family here today. We stand in respect of you,
of your warrior brothers, and of your heroic sacrifice,
because you stand as a living example of America’s
awesome determination to defend herself, or what
President Trump called yesterday, and I quote,
“America’s unbreakable spirit.” This son of South Haven,
Michigan, a four-sport, as you know, varsity
athlete, lettered, a collegiate wrestler,
a football player, baseball player, he had planned
for himself a life of quiet excellence in the classroom–
giving 100% there, as your father had
taught you, Jim– as a teacher, as a coach. And then destiny tapped
him on the shoulder, as it does to some men. Jim McCloughan was drafted
in the Army at age 22. And I remember those days. I showed the Army. I ran down and joined the Marine
Infantry, when it came my way. [LAUGHTER] Not the brightest
draft dodger that ever walked the face of the earth. [LAUGHTER] But I would tell you, too, that
we look at your Army service, and we detect a higher
purpose unfolding. Your longtime love of athletics
had bestowed a basic knowledge of sports medicine even in you. And it was ideally situating
you for the medical specialist mission. With your competitive
spirit that still shines through loud
and clear today, soldier, and your physical daring, so
often displayed on the football field, you are going
to make yourself a lifeline on the battlefield. And 8,000 miles away
from his Michigan home, near Tam Ky, Vietnam,
in the most atavistic, and I would say primitive
environment, on Earth, Jim McCloughan lived the
contradiction of courage. There, the man his
comrades called Doc, stood tall, when
every human instinct would have kept the ordinary
man down flat on his stomach. And Jim, you were not ordinary,
nor were your battle buddies that day. With a heat index over 100
degrees as you assaulted into that area, Specialist
Four, Bill Arnold, was thrown in from
his helicopter when it was downed by enemy fire. And then Private McCloughan,
the varsity football player, ran 100 meters over
open ground, again, when any natural instinct
would have said just get down, dodging
crossfire to rescue his wounded brother in arms
and carry him to safety, carry him to safety. Remember, the size
of this soldier doing that in the midst of
that heat in that battle. Bill later wrote,
quote, “I had seen him do some unbelievable stuff
to save other soldiers before, but now he was risking
his life for me. Only Doc McCloughan would
run toward the enemy, while everyone else
was running away.” Hour after hour, Jim
would rise again and again over those days, when
his platoon was ambushed and wounded soldiers lay
exposed to enemy fire, as airstrikes rained metal
down on the enemy and all around them, the
wrestler from South Haven ignored a direct order
to remain undercover and went repeatedly into the
kill zone to save his comrades. And think of that
word, “repeatedly.” He was so close to the
assaulting enemy forces that Sergeant Joe Middendorf
and Doug Hatten, M60 machine gunners, feared they’d shoot
their own medic, who still remember to this day the machine
gun bullets flying by his head. They said, “I saw his clothing
move as shrapnel hit him, and Doc never flinched.” Though wounded, Private Jim
McCloughan refused to evacuate. In a firefight, it’s the combat
medic’s job to cheat death, and Jim knew it. When ordered to get on the
chopper, he replied simply, you’re going to need me. In fierce fighting
the following day, Jim was wounded by
shrapnel in small arms fire, while treating soldiers
in an open rice paddy. Night fell and supplies ran low. It was Private McCloughan
who volunteered to hold a blinking strobe light
in the dark, a beacon of hope to mark the place for
the resupply drop. It was also a beacon
for enemy fire. His lieutenant, Randall
Clark, accurately assessed the situation. McCloughan was a sitting duck. The fire was so
thick, they resupply bird could not make the drop. It left, riddled by more
than 20 bullet holes. When we think, Jim,
of you lying there with the rocket propelled
grenades flashing overhead, the Scriptures come
to mind, Psalm 91. “You will not fear the
terror of the night, nor the arrow that
flies by day.” Though many fell
around him, no harm could overtake Jim McCloughan. As darkness dragged towards
dawn, he continued to fight. He kept his boys alive for
the evacuation at sunrise. Kent Nielsen, now a professor
at the University of Texas at Dallas, was one of them. And he said, “Without
his aid, I believe I would have bled to death.” In 48 hours of close combat,
Jim sustained multiple wounds from shrapnel and
small arms fire. He voluntarily risked his
life nine separate times to rescue the wounded. Only providence and
soldiers like are here today who would not stop
fighting could bring him alive through
such hell on earth. We wonder how anyone could
have such confidence. In Jim words, quote, “To be
confident, you have to be fit– physically, psychologically. And your soul has to be fit. If you do the best that you can,
nobody can ask for any more.” He did his best in Vietnam. And his best back home
wasn’t too bad either. He saved the lives of 10 members
of his company on those days. On the battlefield, he
touched 10,000 lives over the next 40
years in the classroom and on the athletic field. He resumed his chosen path,
his dream job, as teacher and a coach. For his life’s work,
he’s been inducted into three Michigan high
school coaching halls of fame. Today, James McCloughan
takes his place in this hall, where
his name joins another hero of Nui Yon hill,
Private First Class Daniel Shea. In every significant way, we
have their warrior brothers to thank for this reunion. They petitioned that Jim’s
Bronze Star with Valor be upgraded to the
Medal of Honor. It puts Jim’s name
where it belongs. But he does not see
the honor as his alone. He says, quote, “It’s really
not a Jim McCloughan medal, it’s a Charlie Company medal. We’ll remember that message. To the boys of Charlie
Company, thank you. Jim held the beacon
that night in 1969. Today, he is the beacon. We in the Department of
Defense are humbled and honored to join you in holding him
high, a guide others to keep their souls fit and always
do the best they can, always serve each other. Thank you. God bless you and the
boys of Charlie Company. Thank you, very much,
ladies and gentlemen. [APPLAUSE] Thank you. Mr. Speer, General
Milley, Sergeant Major of the Army Dailey, and
Specialist McCloughan will now join Secretary
Mattis onstage for the induction ceremony. Ladies and gentlemen,
please remain seated during the presentations. The President of the
United States of America, authorized by Act of
Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the
name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Private
1st Class, James C. McCloughan, United States Army, for
conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at
the risk of his life above and beyond
the call of duty. Private 1st class
James C. McCloughan distinguished himself by acts
of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above
and beyond the call of duty, from May 13 through 15, 1969,
while serving as a combat medic with Company C, 3rd Battalion,
21st Infantry 196th Light Infantry Brigade,
Americal Division. The company air
assaulted into the area near Tam Ky and Nui Yon hill. On May 13, with complete
disregard for his life, he ran 100 meters in an open
field through heavy fire to rescue a comrade
too injured to move and carried him to safety. That same day, 2nd
Platoon was ordered to search the area
near Nui Yon hill, when the platoon was ambushed
by a large North Vietnamese Army force and sustained
heavy casualties. With complete disregard for
his life and personal safety, Private First class
McCloughan led two Americans into the safety of a
trench, while being wounded by shrapnel from a
rocket propelled grenade. He ignored a direct
order to stay back and braved an enemy
assault while moving into the kill zone on
four more occasions to extract wounded comrades. He treated the injured,
prepared the evacuation. And though bleeding heavily
from shrapnel wounds on his head and body, refused
evacuation to safety, in order to remain
at the battle site with his fellow soldiers
who were heavily outnumbered by North
Vietnamese Army forces. On May 14th, the
platoon was again ordered to move out
towards Nui Yon hill. Private First Class McCloughan
was wounded a second time by small arms fire and
shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade, while
rendering aid to two soldiers in an open rice paddy. In the final phases
of the attack, two companies from the second
North Vietnamese Army Division and an element of 700 soldiers
from a Viet Cong regiment descended upon Company C’s
position on three sides. Private First Class
McCloughan, again with complete disregard for his life,
went into the crossfire numerous times
throughout the battle to extract wounded soldiers,
while also fighting the enemy. His relentless and
courageous actions inspired and
motivated his comrades to fight for their survival. When supplies ran low,
Private First Class McCloughan volunteered to hold
a blinking strobe light in an open area as a
marker for a nighttime resupply drop. He remained steadfast while
bullets landed all around him and rocket propelled
grenades flew over his prone, exposed body. During the morning
darkness of May 15th, Private First Class
McCloughan knocked out a rocket propelled grenade
position with a grenade, fought and eliminated
enemy soldiers, treated numerous casualties,
kept two critically wounded soldiers alive during the
night, and organized the dead and wounded for
evacuation at daylight. His timely and
courageous actions were instrumental in saving the
lives of his fellow soldiers. Private First Class
McLuhan’s personal heroism, professional competence,
and devotion to duty, are in keeping with
the highest traditions of the military service
and reflect great credit upon himself, the Americal
Division, and the United States Army. [APPLAUSE] Ladies and gentlemen,
the Medal of Honor plaque will now be unveiled,
inducting Specialist McCloughan into the Hall of Heroes. [APPLAUSE] At this time, the
Medal of Honor flag will be presented to
Specialist McCloughan. On 23, October, 2002, Public
Law 107-248 Section 8143 established the
Medal of Honor flag to recognize service members who
have distinguished themselves by gallantry in action above
and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor flag
commemorates the sacrifice and bloodshed for our
freedoms and gives emphasis to the Medal of Honor being
the highest award for valor by an individual serving in
the armed forces of the United States. The light blue color with gold
fringe bearing 13 white stars are adapted from the
Medal of Honor ribbon. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Secretary Mattis,
Mr. Speer, General Milley, and Sergeant Major
of the Army Dailey. Ladies and gentlemen,
please be seated. Ladies and gentlemen, Specialist
Five James C. McCloughan. [APPLAUSE] Thanks to all who have
spoken before me today– General Milley, Acting Secretary
Speer, Secretary Mattis. Thank you, for your leadership
in the world’s most powerful military and the most
powerful country in the world. This medal is
special, because it has involved two presidents
and two secretary of defenses. My gratitude to President Donald
Trump and former President Barack Obama, former Defense
Secretary Ashton Carter, Defense Secretary General James
Mattis– good first name– former Senator Carl Levin,
who worked for years on this project, senator
Debbie Stabenow– my wife says give it to a
woman, she’ll get it done– and Gary Peters,
Congressman Fred Upton, other members of the Congress,
Department of Defense guests, Gold Star families– very important people– fellow
Medal of Honor brothers– I can now call you my brother– Lieutenant Clark, the men
of Charlie Company, who wrote the eyewitness
letters, and the Army team from the Pentagon,
who has helped my wife and I through this journey. I love you. Thank you, all, for recognizing
the extraordinary courage of the men I’m going to
talk about here today. Thanks to my sidekick, soul
mate, and wife, Cherie. You are my rock; my sons, Jamie
and Matt, and their wives; my stepdaughter, Cara, she has
a milestone birthday today, I’ll let her tell you which
one it is; my brothers, Mike and Tom, and their
families; my grandchildren; my extended family; fellow
colleagues; athletes; and friends; and
of course, the men of Charlie Company
and your families. I’d like to thank my Uncle Jack
back home, who couldn’t be here today, for being my idol, my
inspiration, and my encourager. And there’s two very
special spirits here today. My dad’s first name
was Oliver, but he was known as “Scotty” McCloughan. You know Scotty. Scotty and Margaret McCloughan,
who are looking down on this ceremony today. Thank you, Lord, for
making them my parents and giving them
a front row seat. I don’t know if some of
you– well, some of you will, others won’t. But in the ’70s, there
was a song that came out, and it was entitled “Short
People Have No Reason To Live”. [LAUGHTER] I think that this blows the
hell out of that theory, don’t you think so? [APPLAUSE] In an interview,
Friday, I mentioned that there were two things
that I never dreamed would happen in my life. One was that the
Medal of Honor would have my name attached to it. And the other was
that I never thought I would be interviewed
by a national TV network. I’ve never seen so many of them,
and people claiming they were. [LAUGHTER] Well, there’s a
third thing today that I thought would
never happen either. I never thought that I’d
be in a room (EMOTIONALLY) with so many of the
special people in my life while addressing the nation. This metal is about
love, a love so deep in the soul of the
Charlie Tiger brothers, and me, that it’s beyond measurement. I will be the caretaker of this
medal for the 89 men combat assaulted by helicopter into
Tam Ky for the Battle of Nui Yon hill on May 13, 1969,
whether they came out alive, or they didn’t. We came from many parts
of this great nation. Some were drafted. Some volunteered, but
all wrote a blank check to the people of the United
States of America and South Vietnam. We leaped out of those choppers
from 10 feet in the air into a place far different from
the home towns we grew up in. Each of us had a job. I’ve often said that
I had a positive job in a negative situation. I was able to save lives. I took my duties
really seriously, as did the brothers over
there from Charlie Company. As a medic, I followed
the lead of my dad, who told me, as a
small child, son, if you’re given a job to
do, never do it halfway. You do it to the
best of your ability and carry it out to the end. He not only told me
that, he showed me that. My dad walked the talk. And his guidance
is ingrained in me. All of us present that day
had pledged an oath of loyalty to the country, to the Army, to
the Constitution of the United States of America,
but we could never be prepared for what we were
about to face the next 48 hours. Our goal soon became
getting as many of us out of there alive
as we possibly could. Through the many battles we
had already faced together, our brotherhood had grown
stronger and thicker than blood. The bond we follow
today will also follow us to heaven and beyond. My father passed to me another
gift, a sense of humor. Along with the many things
I carry in my medical pack, I always carried a few
jokes or some funny comments that I would use, often
to lift the morale or keep the wounded soldier
from going into shock. I love to see and
hear people laugh. And I laugh at my own jokes
right along with them. [LAUGHTER] They’re funny. [LAUGHTER] I wouldn’t tell them,
if they weren’t funny. And– [LAUGHS] and Red Skelton
was one of my favorites. He laughed along
with his jokes too. I have continued
to use this gift, and will until the
day that I die. As a matter of fact, I
told my wife, Cherie, that I would like her to place
a piece of paper on my chest at the funeral with
a joke written on it. And I have requested that I
have a smile on my face, instead of that traditional
sober look, so that it appears that
I am laughing along with those who read the joke. [LAUGHTER] Let me give you a sample of
a joke that I might tell. [LAUGHTER] It’s one about a
Dear John letter. Those of you that maybe aren’t
military might not know, but a Dear John
letter is one that is sent from a
loved one back home, a girl, a significant other. And she is all of a
sudden turning and running in the other direction. Well, Private Smith received
one of those letters from his girlfriend, Marie. And she told him that
she no longer loved him. She even told him that she was
going with a guy that he knew, maybe even a best
friend, and that she wanted her picture back. So a good buddy of his, like
one of the Charlie Tiger guys over here, noticed
he was down in the dumps and asked him if he
could see that picture of that girlfriend, of
which he produced for him. And his buddy
walked off with it. He went to all of the
other Charlie Tiger buddies and asked if he could have a
picture of their girlfriend. And they said, sure,
they had some extras. Go ahead and take one. And his buddy wrote
this letter to Marie. “Dear Marie, I’m sorry that
you don’t love me any more. And I understand that you would
like to have your picture back, but I can’t remember
which one you are. [LAUGHTER] So would you– [APPLAUSE] [LAUGHS] –so would you please
take yours and send the others back? [LAUGHTER] However, those brutal
48 hours were not funny. We discovered we were not alone. The first night,
when my 2nd Platoon was ordered to search
and clear– now, we got two helicopters shot
down when we came in, right? And they’re telling
us to move out towards the enemy,
outside of our perimeter. I noticed and I glimpsed
up on Nui Yon hill, and in the distance the enemy,
looked like lava flowing down off the hill, coming
towards our position. We learned later that there were
anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 NVA and 700 VC on that hill. Fortunately, we had each other. And we were dedicated to duty. We also received help from the
other branches of the military. Our survival would depend on
a team much larger than ours, a team that was
equally dedicated. Wounded the first day, I
refused to board the medivac. The evening of May 13th,
as has been mentioned, an RPG exploded. And it did its job on me. But I would have rather
died on that battlefield than have heard later
that one of my men was killed because their
medic was not there. Sergeant Joe Middendorf also
refused to get on that chopper. He, along with
Sergeant Doug Hatten, became a huge factor
in keeping me alive and allowing me
to rescue others. They continued to cover
me for the last 24 hours with their machine guns. After nearly 50 years, the
Purple Heart that Joe earned, earned, earned, that
day on the battlefield was finally pinned on him Sunday
evening at the Army reception. Thank you, Joe, for your
service and sacrifice. [APPLAUSE] I’m sorry it took so long. I love you, brother. I owe much to my parents,
family, mentors, teammates and friends, for what I was
able to accomplish as a medic. My character was molded by them. And the mental discipline
I learned from athletics allowed me to maintain my
focus during our many battles. I also am thankful
for the job I had at a funeral home during
my high school years. It equipped me with the
experience of working emergency situations. As a matter of fact, we were
the emergency teams back then, that we’d take the hearse
out in emergency situations. And it taught me
how to handle death. Facing the death of
those I knew in my school and my community helped me to
cope with the responsibilities I had confronting
death in Vietnam. But again, nothing
could have prepared me for what I would
face in that war. The brave soldiers
who died in my arms will remain in my
mind and my thoughts for the rest of my life. I heard the last
words (EMOTIONAL) of 18, 19, and 20-year-old boys. Some thought I was their mother. I saw them take
their last breath. I wanted to save them
all, but I couldn’t. I still felt helpless
and inadequate, when it was impossible to do so. One of the best values I have
learned from those I mentioned earlier is that of integrity. Doing the right thing even
though nobody is watching has become automatic for me. However, my
upbringing and belief is that someone is
always watching. God is ever-present. I was grateful He was
close by in Vietnam. He gave me the faith and the
hope I needed to carry on. One of the most
important lessons in life I learned during the
Battle for Nui Yon hill– I was in a trench
contemplating how I was going to get one of
my men, who had been shot in the stomach,
through the crossfire and into relative safety
of our makeshift perimeter. All of a sudden, a thought
out of nowhere came over me. It had been since I was a
small boy that I had told my father that I loved him. I knew he loved me, and I
assumed he knew I loved him. But boys and men did not say
“I love you” to one another in those days. So I had a quick but profound
conversation with God. I told Him that if He would get
me out of this hell on earth so I could look my
father in the face again and tell him
that I loved him, I’d be the best father, the
best coach, the best teacher, I was capable of being. At that moment, an incredible
peace came over me. I knew that whatever
happened to me after that was God’s will, not mine. When I returned home, I ran to
my dad in the Chicago airport, hugged him, and told
him that I loved him. And he did the same. It became our gift of
greeting and departure for the rest of his life. He passed away September
4th, 1991, at age 68. I have encouraged my children,
my athletes, (EMOTIONAL) to do the same. My Charlie Tiger brothers and I
say it to each other as well . See you later, Joe. I love you. Talk to you tomorrow. Life is not measured by
the breaths that we take, but by the moments that
take our breath away. The men of Charlie
Company did things that would take your breath away. They looked into the
face of danger and death. And with backs to the wall,
we fought for each other, until the enemy was
beaten and went away. My long career as a teacher,
coach, and wrestling official, has allowed me to have many
breathtaking experiences, with students and
athletes performing extraordinary things. And some of those
athletes are here today, including my two sons. If you played for me, would
you stand at this moment? [APPLAUSE] The big guy down front
here is my grandson. I even got to coach
my own grandson. My journey through
life has taken me from the simplistic, early
rural life, to high school and college as a
student and an athlete, to being a soldier,
and back to education as a teacher,
coach, and official. I have been a part
of many groups that carry the label
“team,” teams made up of ordinary people who go
beyond the call of duty. I’ve seen them
accomplish the same– many, many different
kinds of things, to be possible
through hard work, selfless sacrifice, and
love for each other. When you hope and
believe, when you have faith in God
and each other, when you have love for
someone or something bigger than yourself,
anything can be accomplished. These men, my brothers,
are living proof. Faith, hope, and love abide, but
the greatest of these is love. Finally, as a retired teacher,
I want to give everyone here, and those listening to this
message today, an assignment. Thought you’re getting
away scot-free, didn’t you? If there is someone you have
neglected to say “I love you” to, do it today. You have so many avenues
by which to carry out this assignment, so do it. Do not wait any longer. We are not promised tomorrow. I almost waited too
long with my dad. God bless you all. God bless our military
and government leaders. And on a final note
to my fellow warriors, (SINGING) I would gladly
stand up next to you and defend her still today,
because there isn’t any doubt I love this land. God bless the USA. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Specialist
McCloughan. Ladies and gentlemen, please
remain standing and join in singing the Army Song. The words to the Army Song
can be found in your program. (SINGING) March
along, sing our song, with the Army of the free. Count the brave, count the true,
who have fought to victory. We’re the Army and
proud of our name. We’re the Army and
proudly proclaim– First to fight for the right
and to build the Nation’s might, and the Army goes rolling along. Proud of all we have done,
fighting till the battle’s won, and the Army goes rolling along. Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey! The Army’s on its way. Count off the cadence
loud and strong. For where e’er we
go, you will always know that the Army
goes rolling along. [APPLAUSE] Ladies and gentlemen,
please pause for a moment at your seats to allow the
official party, Specialist McCloughan, his family,
and battle brothers, to exit the auditorium. Ladies and gentlemen,
please continue to remain at your seats until
your row has been released. Thank you. And this concludes
today’s ceremony.

Reader Comments

  1. I am a veteran of the Air Force, but I was not given opportunity to serve in this manner. This man is such Hero, I have watched this with tears in my eyes. Thank God for men like these!

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