DEARBORN — An extraordinary hero who waited 50 years for full recognition for saving the lives of eight men in Vietnam and assisting in the rescue of 36 others is the grand marshal of Dearborn’s Memorial Day Parade on May 28.

The parade theme is “Medal of Honor,” and for good reason. The grand marshal is retired Lt. Col. Charles “Chuck” Kettles, who received the Medal of Honor for piloting a helicopter during four harrowing flights under enemy fire to reach 44 doomed soldiers in 1967.

Although he received other accolades at the time, it wasn’t until 2016 when President Barack Obama presented him with the Medal of Honor, the highest commendation a military veteran can receive.

Kettles, who has Dearborn roots, will lead the city’s 94th annual parade, which travels along Michigan Avenue and begins at 10 a.m. on May 28. He will offer the key note speech at the solemn ceremony that follows at noon at the city’s Veterans Park and War Memorial.

His story is a compelling one.

On May 15, 1967, three months after volunteering for duty in Vietnam, Kettles offered not once, but four times, to fly into heavy enemy fire to help reach 160 stranded members of the 101st Airborne.

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