On July 18, 2016, retired Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles will walk up to President Barack Obama and he will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States of America’s highest military honor. This prestigious acknowledgement of valor above and beyond the call of duty comes nearly 50 years after Kettles was willing to sacrifice everything to save his fellow soldiers.
On May 15, 1967, during the chaos of the Vietnam War, then Major Kettles, led a platoon of UH-1Ds military helicopters to evacuate wounded soldiers near the district of Duc Pho. The 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, had suffered many casualties and injuries after being ambushed by a battalion-sized enemy force.
Kettles made several trips to the hot landing zone to rescue soldiers who were pinned down by enemy fire. While fleeing the dangerous landing zone, a machine gun sprayed Kettles’ helicopter, but “Maj. Kettles coaxed the helicopter and managed to fly us back to base camp,” said Roland J. Scheck, an Army specialist who was serving as a door-gunner on Kettles’ crew.
Kettles is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members.
Kettles will finally and officially be acknowledged for his bravery when he is inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes during the ceremony next month.
Kettles was drafted into the Army at age 21 and retired from the Army in 1978 as a lieutenant colonel. He resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife, Ann.
Thank you for your service Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles and your supreme selflessness to never leave any soldier behind.