Vietnam Veteran retired Army Lt. Col. Charles Kettles received the Medal of Honor on Monday for a 1967 mission where he led a UH-1D helicopter platoon on a mission that ultimately saved 44 lives. “In a lot of ways, Chuck Kettles is America,” Obama said at the White House ceremony. “And to the dozens of American soldiers he saved in Vietnam half a century ago, Chuck is the reason they lived, and came home, and had children and grandchildren, entire family trees made possible by the actions of this one man.” On May 15, 1967, then-major Kettles led the platoon in support of the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, which was ambushed by a battalion-sized force near Duc Pho. Kettles flew into enemy fire to rescue a squad-sized group of soldiers who were pinned down. Kettles, who is now 86, retired in 1978 and served three tours in Vietnam. “The Army’s warrior ethos is placed on a simple principle, a soldier never leaves his comrades behind,” Obama said. “Chuck Kettles honored that creed. Not with a single act of heroism, but over and over and over. And because of that heroism, 44 American soldiers made it out that day.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.