Medal of Honor given to retired Lt. Col. for bravery during Vietnam War

WASHINGTON D.C. (KUSI) — President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to a retired Lieutenant Army Colonel who served during the Vietnam War.

Charles Kettles, a UH-1 helicopter commander, is credited with saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his crew members back in 1967.

Mister Obama called Kettles’s story, "a wonderful inspiration."

"It should be a creed for all of us," Obama said at a White House ceremony. "This is a country that’s never finished in its mission to improve, to do better, to learn from our history, to work to form a more perfect union. And at a time when, let’s face it, we’ve had a couple of tough weeks, for us to remember that goodness and decency of the American people and the way we can all look out for each other, even when times are tough, even when the odds are against us, what a wonderful inspiration."

Kettles was 37 at the time of the encounter.

According to CNN, Kettles volunteered to lead a platoon to bring reinforcements to a brigade cornered by Vietnamese forces near Duc Pho on May 15, 1967.

He made several trips in his "Huey" to take wounded soldiers to a safe spot. He rescued 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members who were stranded after their helicopter was destroyed in an enemy attack.

According to CNN, Kettles discovered that eight soldiers had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters due to Vietnamese fire and returned to assist them, despite damage to his helicopter’s tail boom, main rotor blade and windshields.

An Army statement said Kettles exhibited "complete disregard for his own safety" during the mission. "Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield."

"I didn’t do it by myself," Kettles said in a video released by the U.S. Army. "There were some 74 pilots and crew members involved in this whole mission that day. So it’s not just me."

Kettles went on to develop an aviation management program at Eastern Michigan University’s College of Technology and work for Chrysler Pentastar upon his return to the U.S, according to CNN.

He is 86 years old.

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