YPSILANTI, MI (WLNS) – It’s not every day that the President hands out high honors to people who have served our country. But, that’s what is happening to one Michigan veteran.
Let’s take you back to May 15, 1967. Surrounded by gunfire. On a mission to keep people alive. That’s exactly what now Retired Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kettles faced on that day more than 50 years ago in Vietnam.
“The battalion commander requested the emergency extraction of those remaining. The 176 assault helicopter company had only one helicopter remaining,” said Lt. Col. Kettles.
Meaning it was Charles Kettles’ job to fly a helicopter and save 44 American troops who were up against a North Vietnamese battalion. And, it wasn’t easy. After believing he had all the men on board, he realized the work wasn’t done.
“The battalion commander advised me that there were still eight troops remaining in that LZ (Landing Zone) who had not gotten on board a helicopter because they had been in a defensive position to protect the loading troops,” said Lt. Col. Kettles.
So, for a second time Kettles landed in the war torn area to rescue the remaining soldiers. Somehow through the chaos and gunfire, he was able to get out of harms way both times.
Lt. Col. Kettles said, “we did get those 44 out and they are not on the wall in Washington D.C. And, that’s the only thing that really matters.”
An iconic hero right in our own backyard.
As a result of his bravery to save dozens of lives that day, President Obama will present Lt. Col. Kettles the Medal of Honor in Washington next month.