b. 03/09/1922 Etna, Pennsylvania. d. 02/04/2006 Washington DC.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 02/10/1969 Kien Tuong Province, Vietnam.
He was born in Pittsburgh-area town of Etna, Pennsylvania, the son of Croatian immigrants, and grew up during the Great Depression.
At the age of 19, Novosel joined what was then the Army Air Corps. That was just ten months prior to Pearl Harbor, and by 1945, he was a captain flying B-29 Superfortress bombers in the war against Japan. He left the service for a brief time due to reductions in force after the war was over and settled in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, to raise his family.
Novosel joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve and went back on active duty to again serve his country during the Korean War. He left the service again in 1953 and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserve in 1955.
In 1963, Novosel was working as a commercial airline pilot when he decided to return to active military duty. By then, he was 41 and the Air Force did not have space for any more officers in the upper ranks. Novosel made the decision to give up his rank of lieutenant colonel in the Air Force to join the Army and fly helicopters as a chief warrant officer (CW4) with the elite Special Forces Aviation Section. He served his first tour in Vietnam flying medevac helicopters (Dustoff) with the 283rd Medical Detachment. His second tour in Vietnam was with the 82nd Medical Detachment. During that war, Novosel flew 2,543 missions and extracted 5,589 wounded personnel, among them his own son, Michael J. Novosel, Jr. (the following week Michael J. Novosel, Jr. returned the favor by extracting his father after he was shot down).
When Novosel retired as the senior warrant officer with the Warrant Officer Candidate Program in 1985, he had been a military aviator for 42 years and was the last World War II military aviator in the U.S. to remain on active flying duty. Novosel accumulated 12,400 military flying hours, including 2,038 in combat.
While residing in Enterprise, Alabama during his retirement, Novosel remained active in the military community. He frequently was invited as an honored guest for military lectures and ceremonies across the nation. He co-piloted the liftoff of the In the Shadow of the Blade mission in 2002. His book, Dustoff – The Memoir of an Army Aviator, was published in 1999.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. CWO Novosel, 82d Medical Detachment, distinguished himself while serving as commander of a medical evacuation helicopter. He unhesitatingly maneuvered his helicopter into a heavily fortified and defended enemy training area where a group of wounded Vietnamese soldiers were pinned down by a large enemy force. Flying without gunship or other cover and exposed to intense machinegun fire, CWO Novosel was able to locate and rescue a wounded soldier. Since all communications with the beleaguered troops had been lost, he repeatedly circled the battle area, flying at low level under continuous heavy fire, to attract the attention of the scattered friendly troops. This display of courage visibly raised their morale, as they recognized this as a signal to assemble for evacuation. On 6 occasions he and his crew were forced out of the battle area by the intense enemy fire, only to circle and return from another direction to land and extract additional troops. Near the end of the mission, a wounded soldier was spotted close to an enemy bunker. Fully realizing that he would attract a hail of enemy fire, CWO Novosel nevertheless attempted the extraction by hovering the helicopter backward. As the man was pulled on aboard, enemy automatic weapons opened fire at close range, damaged the aircraft and wounded CWO Novosel. He momentarily lost control of the aircraft, but quickly recovered and departed under the withering enemy fire. In all, 15 extremely hazardous extractions were performed in order to remove wounded personnel. As a direct result of his selfless conduct, the lives of 29 soldiers were saved. The extraordinary heroism displayed by CWO Novosel was an inspiration to his comrades in arms and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the U.S. Army.
BURIAL LOCATION: ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA.
Section 7A, Lot 178-C
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