On May 15, 1967, northwest of Duc Pho Airfield in Vietnam’s central highlands, orders came in for Charles “Chuck” Kettles, commander of the 176th Assault Helicopter Company’s first platoon, to evacuate 44 soldiers pinned down by the North Vietnamese Army in a battle that wasn’t going well for the Americans. Eight choppers landed, the soldiers scrambled aboard, and the helicopters were airborne with minutes – mission accomplished. So everyone thought.
As the helicopters lifted to 2,000 feet and pointed toward Duc Pho, word came over the radio that eight men remained on the ground. Without hesitation or a second thought, Kettles, who had only one man aboard his UH-1D, turned around and swooped back into the mostly evacuated battlefield, providing dozens of North Vietnamese guns a large, easy, sitting target. The soldiers sprinted toward and climbed aboard the suddenly overloaded and badly shot up helicopter. After a few attempts, it lurched into the air while absorbing mortar rounds and enemy fire that pocked its fuselage.
Against the odds, Kettles got the helicopter airborne, saving the eight men and his crew. For his actions that day he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest decoration a soldier can receive.
Now, 48 years later, Kettles is up for the Medal of Honor, the US Military’s highest decoration, for the rescue. Sec. of Defense Ash Carter recently approved the action, and it only needs Congress’s approval before President Obama’s signature makes it final. And…
The Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), the voice of women in the military, today announced its participation in a new movement to give back to those who have given so much for the United States: our nation’s 22 million veterans. On Veterans Day, November 11, SWAN will take part in #DayForTheBrave the nation’s first online Giving Event to exclusively raise funds and awareness for charities serving the needs of veterans, service members and their families. SWAN is a member-driven community network advocating for the individual and collective needs of service women past, present and future.
All Gave Some. Some Gave All.