Back in episode 634 retired Army Lt. Col. Charles S. Kettles was featured. He had just been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for something he did back in the Vietnam War. It was remarkable that it took so long for him to receive his award considering the heights of valor he displayed in saving 44 soldiers from death or capture by the enemy. About the only thing to be said here is – better late than never.
In this episode we will look at a follow-up story about how one of the soldiers who was saved by Kettles’ heroic actions on May 15, 1967 in Vietnam had a part in the efforts that resulted in the award ceremony in the White House. The story is found in an article in The Highlands Today titled: Sebring native helps hero receive Medal of Honor by Tony Judnich.
Sebring, Florida native and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Donald E. Long was on hand for the White House ceremony on July 18, 2016 where Kettles received the nation’s highest award for valor in combat. It was especially significant for Long to be in attendance because he was not only saved by Kettles’ bravery that day in Vietnam but he was also instrumental in getting Congress to pass a special law to make the award possible because of the statute of limitations on the date of the event. He wrote the cover letter for a letter-writing campaign started several years ago by the Ypsilanti Historical Commission and supported by then-U.S. Congressman John Dingell of Michigan. Dingell spearheaded the action through the Congress.
Donald Long, 76, graduated from Sebring High School in 1957 and served in the Army from 1960-1980, including as a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam War. He has two sisters who live in Sebring, and he and his wife, Marti, now live in Winter Park and Murphy, North Carolina.