Michigan Vietnam War Helicopter Pilot to Receive Medal of Honor
On July 18th, retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles of Ypsilanti will be at the White House to receive the Medal of Honor. Numerous people have been trying to get this done for the last 40 years. It's about time.
According to MLive.com, on May 15, 1967, then Major Kettles led a platoon of Huey helicopters from the 174th Assault Helicopter Company into a battlefield near Duc Pho, in the central highlands of Vietnam. The mission was to evacuate members of the 101st Airborne who had been ambushed and were outnumbered by the North Vietnamese Army. After making several trips in to evacuate soldiers, the Hueys of the 174th all left.
That's when somebody discovered that there were eight more wounded men still on the battlefield.
Major Kettles had room on board his helicopter, so he turned around and went back in. Just his helicopter, alone, with one side gunner. No support from Army gunships or the Air Force. Of course, his helicopter was a sitting duck when they got to the battlefield, but they landed, got the eight on board, took a mortar round that blew out the windshield and took a round to the tail boom. And then had to lift off while the Huey was now 600 pounds overweight and all shot up. Somehow, they made it out.
And what does Lt. Colonel Kettles say about how scary that must have been?
"I was too busy trying to keep everything running to actually be shaking or getting excited about that. It's no real surprise that that was happening," he said. "The enemy was as serious about the whole thing as I was and the rest of us. That's war."
God love him. Somebody in Ypsilanti - give this guy a hug for me.
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