Tuesday, April 11, 2006

good-bye to a Warrior

taken directly from http://intheshadowoftheblade.blogspot.com/
(I couldn't write it any better. My husband knew this fine man when we were stationed at Ft Rucker.) I once shook his hand and he was kind to me. Heaven has welcomed him Home.

A Salute to A Hero and A Friend

If you felt America sigh today, it was because, sadly, she had to give up one of her best. With grief for the nation's loss, and celebration for the great life he lived, we honor hero and friend retired Chief Warrant Officer Mike Novosel, Sr., who passed from our world to the next April 2, 2006 at the age of 84.

Mike Novosel, whose buddies engaged in elaborate schemes to "stretch" him enough to meet minimum height requirements for flying, was a giant in Army aviation, serving our country in World War II as a B-29 Super-fortress pilot, in Vietnam as a Huey "DUSTOFF" pilot, and as an instructor pilot and safety officer at home. So great is his contribution to Army aviation that observant visitors to Fort Rucker will note that they drive down a street called Novosel.

During his two tours piloting DUSTOFF missions in Vietnam, Mike Novosel logged 2,038 combat hours, extracting 5,589 wounded. Among the many dramatic stories of his life is that he and his son and namesake served together in the same unit and are the only father-son team in history to evacuate each other from combat.

On 2 October 1969, CWO Novosel earned the nation's highest honor when he "unhesitantingly maneuvered his helicopter into a heavily fortified and defended enemy training area where a group of wounded Vietnamese soldiers was pinned down by a large enemy force. Flying without gunship or other cover and exposed to intense machine gun fire" Novosel, who was wounded in the action, extracted 29 men that day. At 48, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon.

One might expect that a hero of Novosel's stature had earned the right to be aloof, but everyone who met him, whether it was a kid at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial or a wounded soldier freshly returned from Iraq or a filmmaker who wanted to take a Huey across America, would soon learn that this man who wore a medal-adorned blue ribbon around his neck was not only a true American hero but also the nicest guy in the world. He spent his last years fully engaged in the fight to award combat flight recognition to the DUSTOFF medics and crew chiefs he so fully respected.

Mike Novosel life was a monument to the twentieth century, but he wore it with a twinkle in his eye and a joke on his lips. We are very honored to have met him. He was a gem.

On October 2, 2002, exactly 33 years to the day after the heroic Vietnam War mission which earned him the Medal of Honor, CWO Mike Novosel took the left seat of Huey 091 on the maiden leg of her flight across America. On this symbolic flight from the home of Army Aviation in Fort Rucker, Alabama to a first landing to honor the war dead at Wall South in Pensacola, Florida, Mike Novosel represented all the life savers who flew Hueys and all the lives men like him had saved. Dressed in the flight suit he'd worn on his first duty day as an Army aviator, Novosel helped set the tone for "In The Shadow of The Blade's" symbolic mission of healing and reconciliation. And he was there when 091 made her final landing on The Mall in Washington, D.C.

Today, America sighed, but heaven must be singing, for it has been joined by an indomitable, twinkly-eyed, good-to-the-core spirit who will make a very, very fine angel.
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1 comment:

Sue said...

Beautiful tribute to one who must have been a wonderful man....