Army Aviator, Michael J. Novosel, actually joined the U.S. Army Air Corps on February 7, 1941. He flew bombers in World War II, applied for active duty status for the Korean conflict and in 1963, was in Atlanta employed by Southern Airways. It was then, out of a deep-seated strain of patriotism, that he gave up his Air Force Reserve rank of lieutenant colonel and joined the Army.
His intent was to instruct new Army Aviators; instead, the Army sent him to Vietnam as a Dustoff pilot. He would eventually log two tours, 2,038 combat flight hours, 2,543 missions which saw to the evacuation of 5,589 wounded. And he would be accorded the Medal of Honor.
On October 2, 1969, Novosel and his crew set about rescuing Vietnamese wounded trapped at Kien Tuong Province, near the Cambodian border. Under heavy fire, Novosel landed numerous times to pick up wounded troops. On six occasions, the intrepid aviator was forced out of the area due to relentless VC fire, only to find another way to being his Huey in.
It was on the last trip that disaster nearly struck. While picking up the last of the wounded, a VC popped up, only 30 yards away. The insurgent emptied his AK-47, holing the windscreen, wounding Novosel. The warrant officer, with help from his co-pilot, managed to lift off and clear the area, with a rescued trooper riding the skids.
On June 15, 1971, in the East Room of the White House, President Richard M. Nixon, draped a Medal of Honor round the neck of CWO Michael J. Novosel, saying, “Congratulations, Mr. Novosel. I and the nation are proud of you.”
Sources: “CWO Michael J. Novosel,” Office of Medical History, U.S. Army Medical Department, history.amedd.army.mil/moh/novoselm.htm
Greenwood, John T., Ph.D., “Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Novosel, Office of Medical History, U.S. Army Medical Department, May 16, 2006.
Novosel, Michael J., Dustoff: The Memoirs of an Army Aviator, Ballantine Books, New York, 1999.
Novosel, Michael J., Medal of Hopnor Recipients, Vietnam War, Center of Military History, United States Army, http://www.army.mil/medalofhonor/