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Lt. Col. (Ret.) Charles Kettles was an Army veteran from Ypsilanti who passed away on January 21, 2019 at the age of 89. Mr. Kettles was a helicopter pilot in the Army during the Vietnam War. In 1967, he led a series of daring rescue missions in his helicopter after American troops were ambushed in South Vietnam. He ultimately saved the lives of over 40 people. For these heroic acts, Mr. Kettles was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2016.

In 2006, Mr. Kettles recorded an oral history interview with Bill Vollano as part of the Veterans History Project through the Library of Congress and the Ypsilanti District Library. According to the New York Times, this interview helped make his story more well-known, eventually leading to him receiving the Medal of Honor. Click here to view the interview online through the Library of Congress.

For more information about Mr. Kettles’ life and the rescue missions, here is his obituary from the New York Times.

The Ypsilanti District Library is proud of our Veterans History Project collection, which features oral history interviews with armed forces veterans from the Ypsilanti area. We encourage our patrons to explore this important collection. Please click here to see a list of available interviews in our catalog.