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Michael Novosel, Sr. (left) and Michael Novosel, Jr. (right) were both invited to the prestigious Gathering of Eagles in 2000. Following are excerpts from The Gathering of Eagle’s program in 2000 at Maxwell AFB.



Michael J. Novosel, Sr.

Michael J. Novosel, at age 48, earned his nation’s highest award for valor when he rescued 29 soldiers from certain death! Born and raised in Etna, Pennsylvania, Novosel became an aviation cadet in the Army Air Force (USAAF). After earning his pilot wings and commission on 15 December 1942, he instructed in the North American AT-6
Texan at Laredo Army Airfield, Texas. Detached from the USAAF in 1943, he trained for a classified mission, but soon returned to instructor duty. By December 1944, he had logged over 800 hours in the Consolidated B-24 Liberator supporting aerial gunner training. He then went to Maxwell AFB, Alabama, to check out in the Boeing 29 Superfortress. Following crew training in New Mexico, in July 1945, he left for Tinian in the Pacific and flew four combat missions with the 58th Bombardment Wing (Very Heavy). After the end of World War II (WWII), he flew two missions to drop food to allied prisoners of war in Japan. During the surrender ceremony on the USS Missouri, Novosel flew a B-29 in a 462-ship fly over! He then took command of the 99th Bombardment Squadron (VH) and remained in the Pacific until the fall of 1947. Posted to Eglin AFB, Florida, he was a B-29 flight pilot until 1949, when he left active duty and joined the Air Force Reserve. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War but, instead of flying, he was sent to Air Command and Staff School. As the war in Southeast Asia escalated, Novosel volunteered again, but the Air Force deemed him too old, so he joined the Army as a warrant officer. He learned to fly helicopters and soon returned to combat. He served two tours in South Vietnam and flew 2,543 missions in the Bell UH-1 "Huey." As the "dustoff" pilot, he airlifted nearly 5,600 medical evacuees. During his second tour, he was nominated for and later received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Following his heroic service in Vietnam, he served three years at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a chief test pilot for the Army's Golden Knight parachute team. He jumped with the team on occasion to maintain proficiency. Later, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, Novosel lectured in the Warrant Officer Career College and then became Senior Tactical Officer in the Warrant Officer Candidate Program. In 1985, he was the last WWII pilot actively flying and was known as the "Dean of the Dustoff pilots." During his retirement ceremony, he received a rare honor for a living hero: the main street of Fort Rucker became Novosel Avenue. In 1992, he marched with other WWII veterans from around the world across Red Square in Russia's Victory-in-Europe parade. Novosel actively lectures now on his autobiography, Dustoff, the Memoir of an Army Aviator.


Note from the Michael J. Novosel Wikipedia page...

Diagnosed with a recurrent cancer in November 2005, he had undergone a series of highly successful treatments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The cancer tumor had been greatly reduced in December 2005 and January 2006. In February 2006, Novosel concluded chemotherapy and other treatments and waited to regain strength in preparation for surgery on March 7,. His prognosis appeared excellent. Despite new and innovative procedures to reduce trauma, he never fully recovered from the shock of the surgery. He died on April 2, 2006 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on April 13, 2006.


Michael Novosel’s military career started in 1941, spanned three wars, and, at the time of his retirement from the military in 1985, was recognized as the last World War II pilot on active duty, designated “Last Eagle.” His awards and decorations include The Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with “V” Device and 60 Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with two Battle Stars, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with two Hour Glass Devices, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Philippine Independence Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Gold Star, Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, Air Force Command Pilot Badge, Army Master Aviator Badge and the Air Assault Badge. CW4 Novosel was inducted into the Army Aviation Hall of Fame in June 1975, designated as “Elder Statesman of Aviation” by the National Aeronautic Association of America in November of 1988, member of “The Order of Military Medical Merit” and inducted into the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.



Michael J. Novosel, Jr.

Mike Novosel, JR. is the only pilot to fly in the same helicopter unit with his father in combat! Born in 1949, at Eglin AFB, Florida, Novosel grew up around pilots and aircraft. As a teenager, he took every opportunity to be down on the flight line. In 1968, at the peak of war in Southeast Asia, he graduated from high school in North Carolina and, at 19, enlisted in the Army. After basic training, he reported to Fort Wolters, Texas, for flight school and training in the same flight in which his father had served as a contract instructor earlier. Novosel graduated, recieved appointment to warrant officer one, and earned his wings in 15 December 1969. It was exactly 27 years after his father earned his wings! He volunteered for duty in Vietnam, and, when he arrived, requested assignment to the 82nd medical Detachment. With his father's approval, he joined the unit. His father gave him a "dollar ride," an auto-rotation check, an "in-country" flight evaluation, then cleared Novosel, Jr. to fly the Bell UH-1 "Huey." The tow Novosels suspended a normal father-son relationship for the next few months, but when Novosel, Sr. completed his tour, his son flew him to the departure processing base. In July 1970, Novosel, Jr. became an aircraft commander and inherited his father's call sign "Dustoff 88." In a year tour, he flew 1.736 missions, earned 37 air medals, and rescued more than 2,500 allied airmen, sailors, and soldiers. He returned to the States as a chief warrant officer (CWO-2), married, and was assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After serving at Pusan, Korea, he flew the "Huey" and the Bell OH-58 Kiowa with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Bliss, Texas. Posted to Fort Rucker, Alabama, Novosel earned an associate degree in Aviation Safety and then went to the 377th Medical Detachment at Camp Walker, Korea. In 1981, he returned to Fort Rucker as a flight instructor and earned a degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Next, he was Aviation Safety Officer for 2nd Infantry Division in Korea and then became a classroom teacher and intsructor pilot back at Fort Rucker. After assignment to the 12th Aviation Brigade in Germany, Novose's final duty was Installation Safety Officer at Fort Bragg; he retired as a CWO-4 in 1991 with over 5,500 flying hours. In a varied second career, he has fown spotting missions for fishing fleets in the south Pacific, crop dusted, and hauled timber. Since 1991, Novosel has flown support for offshore oil exploration and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico. With almost 11,000 hours between the oil platforms and his home and wife, Margaret, in Florida.

Michael Novosel, Jr. retired from his job flying helicopter support for offshore exploration in 2005. After his father’s death, he made numerous personal appearances on behalf of his father and devoted time to creating and furthering the Michael J. Novosel Foundation. He traveled from his home in Florida to Pennsylvania for a D-Day event honoring his father and dedication of a handicap accessible deck at American Legion Post 106 in Sharpsburg where his father had been a member, was Grand Marshall of the Veteran’s Day Parade in Harrisburg, was present for the renaming of the Vietnam Veterans Association in Harrisburg from Capital Chapter to Michael J. Novosel Chapter and he was an active member. He presided at unveilings of busts of his father at Soldiers and Sailors Military Memorial Hall and Museum, Oakland, Pa. ; Headquarters Company- Fort Rucker, Alabama where both he and his father had been instructors; Fort Bragg, N.C. at the Golden Knights, Maxwell Air Force Base and at the Novosel VVA. His Foundation work included meetings with veterans, politicians, VA officials and Health Care providers. Mr. Novosel attended the 2009 Clay Shoot fundraiser. In 2009, Mr. Novosel was engaged in research and development of geothermal energy and involved with the U.S. Navy in a rocket design project. Mr. Novosel had his 60th birthday on November 19, 2009 and that month was diagnosed with cancer. On December 9, 2009 Michael Novosel, Jr. received his father’s Medal of Honor flag at a ceremony at his home in Shalimar, Florida. Michael Novosel, Jr. passed away on December 10, 2009. He was buried with full military honors at Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola.