Jul 18, 12:14 PM EDT

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War who is credited with helping rescue more than 40 American soldiers under heavy fire

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama has bestowed the Medal of Honor on retired Lt. Col. Charles Kettles, a Vietnam War veteran.

Kettles received the nation's highest military honor during a ceremony at the White House on Monday morning. Kettles led helicopter flights carrying reinforcements to U.S. soldiers and evacuated the wounded after they were ambushed in combat operations near Duc Pho in May 1967.

Obama says Kettles serves as a great inspiration for Americans at a time when the country has been suffering through a rough couple of weeks. He said Kettles shows how Americans look out for each other even when times are tough and even when the odds are against them.

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