James C. McCloughan, 71, of South Haven, Mich. was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Donald J. Trump in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on July 31.
McCloughan was an Army medic who is credited with saving the lives of 10 members of his platoon during the Battle of Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam nearly 50 years ago.
Back in May 1969, McCloughan, then 23 years old, returned to the battlefield multiple times to retrieve wounded soldiers despite having been hit with shrapnel from a grenade and being shot in the arm.
“I think they thought that maybe if I knew how to tape up an ankle, and had gone through those strapping classes that I’d gone through, that I might have a little bit of a heads up on some things that I was going to be facing,” McCloughan said in a recent interview with the Army Times.
“I wouldn’t say that I wasn’t scared, because everybody’s scared. But I’ve always said that I owe it to high school and college football and college wrestling,” he said. “Those sports prepared me for the mental discipline I need in those situations, to go out and do my duty.”
After a discharge from the Army he earned a number of honors but from then on he served for 22 seasons as a high school wrestling coach. And as a Michigan High School Athletic Association wrestling official.
James C. McCloughan is not the first former wrestler to be bestowed with this honor. Tom Norris, former University of Maryland wrestler who won back-to-back Atlantic Coast Conference titles (1965, 1966) for the Terps, was presented with the Medal of Honor for his actions as a U.S. Navy SEAL in the ground rescue of two downed U.S. pilots in April 1972.