50 Years Later, Vietnam Vet Awarded Medal of Honor for Harrowing Rescue
Nearly 50 years after he saved the lives of forty soldiers from an ambush, a Vietnam veteran will be receiving the Medal of Honor.
Lt. Col. Charles Kettles was a helicopter pilot during the war. On May 15, 1967 he volunteered to bring reinforcements to a brigade of soldiers who were trapped by Vietnamese forces.
Kitties made several trips into the live fire zone to evacuate wounded soldiers. He later returned to rescue an additional 40 soldiers and crew after the helicopter they were in was destroyed. Before he could get the final group of eight out, Kittles’ aircraft took heavy damage to its main rotor blade. Despite the damage, Kittles returned to rescue the final eight soldiers.
In a statement on Kittle’s actions, the army said, “Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield.”
In a statement, the White House expounded on the meaning of the Medal of Honor, saying the award is given for “great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life.”
Kittles, currently 86 years old, also served in Japan, Korea, and Thailand as an aviation commander. He went on to teach an aviation management program at Eastern Michigan University and work for Chrysler before retiring to his hometown in Michigan with his longtime wife Ann.
The ceremony is scheduled for July 18 at the White House.