Monday, March 05, 2007

Welcome to the new ITSOTB site!

If you're new to the ITSOTB community, welcome! If you're an old-timer...always great to see you. Please join the discussion either in our new forum or here in the comments section of the blog. Please remember that our website is frequented by young people studying the Vietnam War, as well as by veterans, families, and civilians, and therefore all discourse should be respectful, clean, and worthy of the dignity of the project. Inappropriate entries will be deleted and posters will be blocked. We've taken every possible action to prevent spam and bad language; please understand that sometimes this will delay your posts.

Hope you'll take some time to browse through the whole site, which is still being updated. Make sure to visit the video gallery frequently, as we'll be changing clips frequently.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name....

As part of the Army's reorganization of medevac helicopters into general aviation units, a recent ceremony marked the end of an era...sort of.

When the colors of the 57th Medical Company, "The Originals," were rolled up and put away, the Vietnam veterans weren't the only ones with tears in their eyes. As those who served under the command of rambunctiously committed Army major who'd bucked orders not to fly at night or into hot landing zones to evacuate wounded listened to his son's poignant words as DUSTOFF was retired, they had to be as proud as they were sad. Because it was very clear that the tall-standing young soldiers who'd inherited their legacy would carry it on--no matter what it was called. Things change. Blackhawks have replaced Hueys. Women pilot medevacs. Landing Zones are sandy. But wherever the wounded wait, the legacy of DUSTOFF lives on. Watch this video we shot to see for yourself.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

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.

Visit the Arrowhead site starting Monday to view video tributes to Mike.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Join Us at LBJ Library

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum invites you to a public screening of the documentary film "An Ocean Away," Tuesday, April 11, 7:00 p.m. LBJ Auditorium, 2313 Red River Street. Free and open to the public. Program includes keynote address by Lieutenant General (U.S. Army Retired) Randolph House, and comments by Loretta Matocha Eiben and documentary director Patrick Fries. Master of Ceremonies: Mickey Batsell, Texas A&M Class of '67.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

An Ocean Away Public Screening in April

Developing.....At the invitation of the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, "An Ocean Away" will screen at the library auditorium on Tuesday, April 11, just a week after the 38th anniversary of that day on Hill 166 when LT Donald Matocha lost his life and the Marines of his recon patrol found theirs forever changed. This event will be free and open to the public. More details to come.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Mission Is Complete

Tonight. 8 eastern 7 central. The Military Channel.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Just Don't Miss It"

An Ocean Away...Thursday...8 p.m ET...The Military Channel.

San Antonio Express-News Review:

" One of the most unique and moving postwar stories I've ever encountered airs on national TV Thursday. Watch it, tape it, TiVo it. Just don't miss it.

Granted, "An Ocean Away" — premiering at 7 p.m. Thursday on the Military Channel (Time Warner Cable digital Channel 217) — first caught my attention because of its ties to San Antonio and South Texas.

Once I watched the preview tape, however, the specifics were lost in the universal humanity of the tale. There's heart, horror and more than a little irony in this hour...." Read the rest.