Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Pilot Long Due for Medal of Honor, Delegates Say
Members of the Michigan congressional delegation have proposed awarding the Medal of Honor—the highest award given for U.S. military service—to a retired helicopter pilot decades after his heroic service during the Vietnam War. S.2250, a Nov. 5 bill introduced by Sen. Gary C. Peters with support from Rep. Debbie Dingell and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, proposes to waive the five-year time limitation on awarding the medal to retired Army Maj. Charles S. Kettles for his actions on May 15, 1967, in Vietnam's Song Tra Cau riverbed. According to the Military Times, Kettles volunteered to lead multiple flights of helicopters behind enemy lines to provide supplies and reinforcements to a stranded airborne company and rescue its wounded. After taking passengers onboard and lifting off to conclude his third flight, Kettles learned via radio transmissions that eight more servicemen were stranded and elected to maneuver alone under heavy fire to their position. “We were already 15 ft in the air, but we decided to go back and get the others,” Kettles told The Detroit News. “The helicopter was already overweight, and it flew like a two-ton truck, but we were able to get up in the air and get everyone to safety.” Kettles' actions that day earned him in 1968 the Distinguished Service Cross—the second-highest U.S. Army award next to the Medal of Honor.