Kettles receives Medal of Honor for daring Vietnam War mission

by Travis J. Tritten
Stripes Guam
WASHINGTON – Vietnam helicopter pilot Charles “Chuck” Kettles saved dozens of soldiers’ lives during a daring rescue mission in 1967, setting an example of selflessness for the country as it now struggles with divisions and violence, President Barack Obama said Monday.
 
Kettles, 86, of Michigan became the latest recipient of the Medal of Honor – the nation’s highest military award for heroism – during a ceremony with Obama at the White House.
 
The retired lieutenant colonel was an Army flight commander who helped evacuate 44 fellow soldiers who were ambushed by larger North Vietnamese forces. During the rescue, Kettles piloted the lone Huey helicopter that returned to save eight more troops who had been stranded, despite enemy fire and a high probability of his overloaded aircraft being grounded on the battlefield.
 
“To the dozens of American soldiers that he saved in Vietnam half a century ago, Chuck is the reason they lived and came home, and had children and grandchildren,” Obama said. “Entire family trees [were] made possible by the actions of this one man.”
 

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