Medal of Honor Recipient Made 'Entire Family Trees' Possible
Charles Kettles helped to save 40 soldiers in Vietnam battle
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2016 12:33 PM CDT
President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honor to retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles of Michigan during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 18, 2016.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – A Vietnam War veteran who helped save 40 soldiers under enemy fire was presented with the Medal of Honor on Monday. Retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles of Ypsilanti, Mich., led helicopter flights that brought reinforcements to soldiers and evacuated those who were injured, the AP reports. He repeatedly returned to a landing zone that was under heavy fire near Duc Pho on May 15, 1967, and during the final evacuation effort, he found out that eight soldiers hadn't been able to get to the helicopters. He went back for them without artillery or tactical aircraft support. His helicopter was damaged by enemy fire, but even so, he got the final group of soldiers to safety.

"As many people have said, nobody deserves it more than Charles Kettles," President Obama said during Monday's ceremony at the White House, per USA Today. "Many believe that, except for Chuck," the president continued, noting that the 86-year-old said a big deal "was made about something that happened 50 years ago." But, Obama noted, there "are entire family trees made possible by this man." Kettles had already been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second-highest military honor for bravery. But an amateur historian learned about Kettles' rescue mission and got the Army to reopen his case, which led to his Distinguished Service Cross being upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the country's highest military award for valor.