Saving a life may be a common bucket-list entry, but it's one that's rarely checked off. James McCloughan could've done so 10 times over two days in 1969. Ignoring his lieutenant's orders to evacuate Nui Yon Hill in Vietnam after shrapnel cut into his head and back and a bullet pierced his arm, the 23-year-old Army medic ran through "hell" and "gave it his all and then ... just kept giving," President Trump said Monday, bestowing McCloughan with the Medal of Honor almost 50 years after that intense battle. Five of the 10 men McCloughan pulled to safety while surrounded by 2,000 enemies looked on as the 71-year-old took his "place among legends," Trump said in his first time awarding the medal, per the New York Times.
"Jim made it out of that hell on Earth," said the president. "He made it; here he is." Trump told how McCloughan had run into an open field to retrieve a wounded soldier as bullets rained. Over the next 48 hours, he went without food, water, or sleep as he saved nine more men and helped load medevac helicopters. He finally collapsed from dehydration as one of 32 men left on the ground. After returning from Vietnam in 1970, the Michigan native received two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars, per Heavy.com. A meeting with Rep. Fred Upton years later, however, led to the recommendation that he also receive the nation's highest military honor, bestowed with special permission by Congress. "Jim's dad taught him a simple but powerful lesson: Never do anything halfway," Trump said. "Jim took that lesson very much to heart.” (Read more Medal of Honor stories.)