By Don Jarosz, TACOM Public AffairsNovember 13, 2017
DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. -- The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command held a Veterans Day Observance event on Wednesday, November 8. The keynote speaker for the event was Army Lt. Col. (Ret.) Charles Kettles, Medal of Honor recipient.
Kettles spoke before a full house at the Detroit Arsenal Auditorium talking about the events that ended with him receiving the Medal of Honor. He is credited with saving some 44 lives in one day, May 15, 1967, while serving as a helicopter commander in the 176th Aviation Company, 14th Combat Aviation Battalion, in the vicinity of Duc Pho, in Vietnam's central highlands.
"It is important to understand that the Medal of Honor, though that I received myself, belongs to about 174 helicopter crew members who were involved in that mission that day," Kettles stated. "I am just the caretaker for this award."
Former President Barack Obama presented the award during a White House Medal of Honor Ceremony on July 18, 2016. He cited that Kettles led three flights into extremely hostile territory to deliver supplies, reinforcements, and evacuate the wounded and trapped. During the final flight, shortly after leaving the landing zone, Kettles was informed that eight soldiers remained on the ground. Without hesitating, he returned on his own, without regard for his own safety and with no other support, to rescue the remaining men. All totaled on that day, his actions saved the lives of 40 soldiers and 4 crew members from the 176th Aviation Company after their helicopter was destroyed.
"The bottom line is when we are sorting up the dust is simply this, there are 44 names that survived this mission that day and that if our helicopter crew members had not participated those names would probably be on the Vietnam War wall in D.C.," Kettles said. "And frankly that is all that matters."