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Michael Joseph Novosel

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U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Vietnam

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As commander of a medical evacuation helicopter, Chief Warrant Officer Novosel unhesitatingly maneuvered his helicopter into a heavily fortified and defended enemy training area where a group of wounded Vietnamese soldiers were pinned down. Flying without gunship or other cover and exposed to intense machinegun fire, he was able to locate and rescue a wounded soldier. Since communications with the beleaguered troops had been lost, he repeatedly circled the battle area, flying at low level under continuous heavy. They recognized this as a signal to assemble for evacuation. On six 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, he attempted extraction by hovering backward. As the man was pulled on aboard, enemy automatic weapons opened fire at close range, damaged the aircraft and wounded Novosel. 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.

Mike Novosel first flew combat in World War II, and piloted one of the B-29s the flew over the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo on September 2, 1945.  He resigned his Air Force Reserve commission when the Air Force refused to recall him to duty in Vietnam, joining the Army as a Warrant Officer. He and his son were the only father/son medical evacuation pilots in Vietnam, together evacuating more than 8,000 wounded and, over the span of a few weeks, rescuing each other after their helicopters went down. When Mike Novosel retired on March 1, 1985, he was the last World War II aviator still on active duty.

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