Distinguished Sailors –
John C. McCloy
Issue Date: February 4, 2010
First-day City: Washington, D.C.
Congressional Medal of Honor winners are never called to prove their courage, but on April 22, 1914, U.S. Navy Boatswain John C. McCloy (1876-1945) was doing so anyway. McCloy had already won the medal during China’s Boxer Rebellion in 1900. But 14 years later, he was leading three picket launches (small boats carrying soldiers) onto the shore of Vera Cruz, Mexico.
A diplomatic incident called the Tampico Affair arose in 1914, leading to the U.S. invasion of Vera Cruz. McCloy’s orders as “Beachmaster” (officer in charge of a beach section) were to set up a signal station to coordinate the landings and evacuate the wounded. Mexican forces concentrated their fire on McCloy’s position and inflicted heavy casualties. Shot in the thigh and surrounded by the dead and dying, McCloy held his position for 48 hours commanding his troops while under constant attack. He was cited for “emminent and conspicuous conduct” and “extraordinary heroism.”
McCloy was awarded the Medal of Honor for Vera Cruz, one of only 19 servicemen to receive it twice. He downplayed his first medal, saying, “Every man in the company deserved a Medal of Honor.” But at Vera Cruz, John McCloy again showed courage that serves as an inspiration to all sailors.