[116th Congress Public Law 317]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

[[Page 5065]]


[[Page 134 STAT. 5066]]

Public Law 116-317
116th Congress

                                 An Act

To designate the medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in 
  Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the ``Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles 
    Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center''. <<NOTE: Jan. 5, 
                         2021 -  [H.R. 7347]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
                              DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS 
                              MEDICAL CENTER.

    (a) Findings.--Congress finds the following:
            (1) Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles was born in 
        Ypsilanti, Michigan, on January 9, 1930.
            (2) Lieutenant Colonel Kettles was drafted to the Army at 
        age 21, and after attending Officer Candidate School, earned his 
        commission as an armor officer in the United States Army Reserve 
        on February 28, 1953.
            (3) Lieutenant Colonel Kettles graduated from the Army 
        Aviation School in 1953 before serving active duty tours in 
        South Korea, Japan, and Thailand.
            (4) Lieutenant Colonel Kettles volunteered for active duty 
        in 1963 when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War.
            (5) Some of the awards and decorations earned by Lieutenant 
        Colonel Kettles include the following:
                    (A) The Medal of Honor.
                    (B) The Distinguished Service Cross.
                    (C) The Legion of Merit.
                    (D) The Distinguished Flying Cross.
                    (E) The Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
                    (F) The Air Medal with numeral 27.
                    (G) The Korean Service Medal.
                    (H) The Vietnam Service Medal with one silver 
                service star and one bronze service star.
                    (I) The Master Aviator Badge.
            (6) The Medal of Honor citation for Lieutenant Colonel 
        Kettles states, ``Major Charles S. Kettles distinguished himself 
        by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving as Flight 
        Commander, 176th Aviation Company (Airmobile) (Light), 14th 
        Combat Aviation Battalion, Americal Division near Duc Pho, 
        Republic of Vietnam. On 15 May 1967, Major Kettles, upon 
        learning that an airborne infantry unit had suffered casualties 
        during an intense firefight with the enemy, immediately 
        volunteered to lead a flight of six UH-1D helicopters to carry 
        reinforcements to the embattled force and to evacuate wounded

[[Page 134 STAT. 5067]]

        personnel. Enemy small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire 
        raked the landing zone, inflicting heavy damage to the 
        helicopters; however, Major Kettles refused to depart until all 
        helicopters were loaded to capacity. He then returned to the 
        battlefield, with full knowledge of the intense enemy fire 
        awaiting his arrival, to bring more reinforcements, landing in 
        the midst of enemy mortar and automatic weapons fire that 
        seriously wounded his gunner and severely damaged his aircraft. 
        Upon departing, Major Kettles was advised by another helicopter 
        crew that he had fuel streaming out of his aircraft. Despite the 
        risk posed by the leaking fuel, he nursed the damaged aircraft 
        back to base. Later that day, the Infantry Battalion Commander 
        requested immediate, emergency extraction of the remaining 40 
        troops, including four members of Major Kettles' unit who were 
        stranded when their helicopter was destroyed by enemy fire. With 
        only one flyable UH-1 helicopter remaining, Major Kettles 
        volunteered to return to the deadly landing zone for a third 
        time, leading a flight of six evacuation helicopters, five of 
        which were from the 161st Aviation Company. During the 
        extraction, Major Kettles was informed by the last helicopter 
        that all personnel were onboard, and departed the landing zone 
        accordingly. Army gunships supporting the evacuation also 
        departed the area. Once airborne, Major Kettles was advised that 
        eight troops had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters 
        due to the intense enemy fire. With complete disregard for his 
        own safety, Major Kettles passed the lead to another helicopter 
        and returned to the landing zone to rescue the remaining troops. 
        Without gunship, artillery, or tactical aircraft support, the 
        enemy concentrated all firepower on his lone aircraft, which was 
        immediately damaged by a mortar round that shattered both front 
        windshields and the chin bubble and was further raked by small 
        arms and machine gun fire. Despite the intense enemy fire, Major 
        Kettles maintained control of the aircraft and situation, 
        allowing time for the remaining eight soldiers to board the 
        aircraft. In spite of the severe damage to his helicopter, Major 
        Kettles once more skillfully guided his heavily damaged aircraft 
        to safety. Without his courageous actions and superior flying 
        skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have 
        made it off the battlefield. Major Kettles' selfless acts of 
        repeated valor and determination are in keeping with the highest 
        traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon 
        himself and the United States Army.''.

    (b) Designation.--The medical center of the Department of Veterans 
Affairs in Ann Arbor, Michigan, shall after the date of the enactment of 
this Act be known and designated as the ``Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. 
Kettles Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center'' or the 
``Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles VA Medical Center''.
    (c) Reference.--Any reference in any law, regulation, map, document, 
paper, or other record of the United States to the medical center 
referred to in subsection (b) shall be considered to be a

[[Page 134 STAT. 5068]]

reference to the Lieutenant Colonel Charles S. Kettles Department of 
Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

    Approved January 5, 2021.


            Sept. 23, considered and passed House.
            Dec. 10, considered and passed Senate.