ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Legislation passed to rename the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) in Ann Arbor after Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles.
Kettles was a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti. He died in January of 2019. He served in the Vietnam War as an Army helicopter commander and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2016 for leading a rescue operation that saved 44 soldiers.
The lawmakers’ legislation passed the House of Representatives in October. The legislation now goes to the president.
The story of LTC Charles Kettles’ selfless bravery must be told and cherished for generations. By engraving his name above the VAMC in Ann Arbor, not only will people learn of his courage, but the doctors, nurses, and staff within those walls will carry on his mission of caring for his fellow servicemembers and veterans.
Over the years, LTC Kettles was more than a hero to me, he became a close friend who I miss dearly. With this lasting honor, we will listen to the wishes of a community that wanted to celebrate the legacy of one of their neighbors.Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
LTC Kettles’ bravery and commitment to his fellow servicemembers embodied the values that make our military – and nation – so strong.
I was honored to help pass this legislation to recognize LTC Kettles for his contributions to Michigan and our nation. Michigan will be forever proud to call him a native son – and his selflessness and exemplary service will continue to inspire generations to come.U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)
Decades ago, Lieutenant Colonel Kettles courageously went back into enemy territory to save the lives of 44 of his fellow servicemen. It is a fitting tribute to rename the Ann Arbor VA hospital for a hometown hero. The President should sign this bill right away. We are forever grateful for his service to our country.Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
In May of 1967, Lieutenant Colonel Kettles led three rescue flights into enemy territory to deliver supplies, reinforcements and to evacuate wounded airborne soldiers who had been ambushed by Northern Vietnamese forces.
After Kettles was informed during the middle of his final flight that eight soldiers remained on the ground, he immediately returned without any support to rescue the remaining men.
His actions saved the lives of 40 soldiers and 4 crewmembers from the 176th Aviation Company.
In 2015, Dingell led legislation to waive time limitations that deemed Lieutenant Colonel Kettles ineligible for consideration of the Medal of Honor. After the bill was enacted, President Obama awarded Kettles the Medal of Honor on July 18, 2016, nearly 50 years after his heroic actions.
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