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.