Kettles’ was the only helicopter that was still able to fly, so he was on his own returning to the battle. Even after army gunships that provided covering fire for the helicopter had left the area, Kettles entered the landing zone to rescue the last eight soldiers that had been unable to reach the evacuation helicopters earlier due to intense fire from the enemy. His helicopter was a big, single target for the enemy and received a great deal of damage, including a mortar round to the tail and rotor blade. Kettles was able to keep control of the aircraft until all eight men were on board, and then took them to safety. Without him, those soldiers would have died on the battlefield.