Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Michael J. Novosel is "Dean of the Dustoff Pilots" --the legendary breed of helicopter flyers whose record in rescuing wounded men during battle is one of the proudest chapters in the Vietnam War. He earned his title by evacuating more than 5,500 wounded soldiers during his tours in Vietnam. A native of Etna, Pennsylvania, CWO Novosel began his military career in 1941 with the Army Air Corps. After he received his wings in 1942, he was assigned to the Pacific Theater where he piloted B-29s on missions over Japan.
He left active duty in 1949 after commanding the 99th Bombardment Squadron on Tinian. He voluntarily returned to active duty during the Korean War and reached the rank of major before the hostilities ended. When the Vietnam conflict began to build in the early sixties, Mr Novosel again sought to serve his country. Since the Air Force was overstrength in his reserve grade of lieutenant colonel in 1964, he took 4 years of military leave from Southern Airways and joined the Army as a warrant officer.
On 2 Oct 1969, CWO Novosel maneuvered his helicopter into a heavily fortified enemy training area to evacuate 29 wounded Vietnamese soldiers pinned down by a large enemy force. He performed 15 extremely hazardous extractions and was wounded on the last attempt. At the age of 48, he became the oldest member of the Army to receive the Medal of Honor in Vietnam.