634 – Charles Kettles DSM upgraded to CMOH

Charles Kettles, vietnam veteran news, mack payne

Then-Army Maj. Charles Kettles stands in front of a 121st Aviation Company UH-1H Huey helicopter during his second tour of duty in Vietnam in 1969. For heroic actions in May 1967 during his first tour in Vietnam, Kettles received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony July 18, 2016. Courtesy photo

In this episode a story from defense.com, an outlet for the US Department of Defense, titled: Vietnam War Helicopter Pilot to Receive Medal of Honor by Elizabeth M. Collins will be featured. The story is about retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles who lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife Ann being cited for heroism in the Vietnam War. In addition to the primary story topic the writer was drawn  to it due to two additional facets. Number one, the writer also was an Army aviator in Vietnam. Number 2 and he was stationed at Duc Pho for several months about the same time this action took place – What a coincidence!!

Kettles was involved in an action against hostile forces on May 15, 1967, while serving as a helicopter commander in the 176th Aviation Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division. The Americal Division was based out of Chu Lai. Kettles aviation company of Huey Helicopters had inserted a force of 80 troops ( a light company) in river valley and it quickly became apparent the troops had landed in the middle of an overwhelming opposing force.

After several attempts were made to reinforce the embattled Americans it was decided to extract the force including the dead and wounded. As the last aircraft left the battlefield, it was discovered 8 Americans were left on the field. Kettles immediately returned to the scene with his aircraft and even though he encountered  withering anti-aircraft fire he was able to get all the men back to their home base at Duc Pho.

Kettles initially received the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor, for his actions that day. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism the day before — May 14, 1967 — and he earned 27 air medals while flying more than 600 missions during two tours in Vietnam.

His DSC was upgraded to the Congressional Medal of Honor and it was awarded to him by President Obama in a White House ceremony.


634 – Charles Kettles DSM upgraded to CMOH — 1 Comment

  1. Congratulations, Lt. Col. Charles Kettles. You truly earned this Medal of Honor.

    The selfless courage and steeled mettle you demonstrated at the Song Tra Cau riverbed on May 15, 1967 is mind-blowing heroism.
    Not just once, but four times, until the last soldier was rescued, you put your life on the line in great harm’s way. Flying in alone that last time with no tactical support and under mortar fire to rescue the last 8 soldiers, then expertly flying out a crippled helicopter makes you a man of legend.
    You said on June 23 “That award belongs to some 74 helicopter crew members each of which were requested to do their job. They did that and then some.”
    I hope that each of them has received the recognition they earned. Yet there is no denying that on that last trip, in the gravest of danger, it was YOU who was the hero.
    I humbly salute you, Lt. Col. Charles Kettles.

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