The Home of Army Aviation in Alabama became Fort Novosel during a redesignation ceremony April 10, 2023, at the post’s Veterans Park.
The post formerly known as Fort Rucker is now named in honor of CWO4 Michael J. Novosel Sr., a veteran of three wars, a Medal of Honor recipient, an Army Aviation legend, a treasured citizen of the Wiregrass and an incredible man, according to Maj. Gen. Michael C. McCurry, Fort Novosel and U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence commanding general, who hosted the ceremony.
“Fort Novosel is where future Soldiers will come to turn their dreams of becoming aviators and leaders into reality,” McCurry said during the ceremony. “And it is fitting that we are redesignating the post after a true hero, an Army aviator, and a warrant officer of impeccable character and extraordinary competence.”
Three of Novosel’s children, Jeannee Vinyard, John Novosel and Patty Clevinger, and also several grandchildren and great grandchildren, joined the various local community leaders, representatives from state and national legislatures and the senior Army representative, Gen. Gary Brito, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command commanding general, for the ceremony. Novosel’s eldest son, Michael J. Novosel Jr., also a UH-1 pilot who flew with his father in Vietnam, died in 2009.
Novosel’s three children stood with McCurry at the ceremony to operate a cyclic control from a UH-1 Huey, the aircraft the elder Novosel flew during the Vietnam War, to symbolically change the name to Fort Novosel and drop canvasses covering the post’s three main gates.
The family also presented Novosel’s Medal of Honor to McCurry so it can be put on display in the U.S. Army Aviation Museum for all time.
“I know if my father were here today, he would be humbled and honored that his name was associated with the Home of Army Aviation and the surrounding community, which he cherished so much. My father was a patriot all his life, and his sense of dedication and obligation to the service of our country began early as a son of Croatian immigrants — he was born in 1922, over a century ago,” John said at the ceremony. “While the length and achievements of his service in Army Aviation are remarkable in their own rights, his impact to the United States Army, the Aviation Center of Excellence and the Wiregrass are equally noteworthy.
“After he took off the uniform of our nation, my father continued in service long into his retirement,” he added. “He stayed connected to this post and to the local community by sharing his story with generations of Army Aviators training here. This genuine connection was steadfast, evidenced by being invited several times each year to speak to Soldiers and community members, and to attend events as a distinguished guest throughout the U.S. and even in Europe until his health declined and it made it impossible in 2006.
“This is why it is fitting that his Medal of Honor, which he proudly wore, should be permanently displayed here to continue his storied legacy and be put on display to inspire past, present and future generations of Army Aviators,” John said.
Col. Robert J. Holcombe, garrison commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher T. Doss, garrison command sergeant major, also cased the Fort Rucker flag and uncased the Fort Novosel flag during the ceremony.
Towards the end of the ceremony, a UH-1 Huey flew over the ceremony, operated by the Friends of Army Aviation.
McCurry spent much of his speech discussing Novosel’s career and his impact on the Army, Army Aviation, Fort Rucker, the Wiregrass and the Novosel family.
“While we can be here all day recounting the people, units and communities Mr. Novosel influenced over his 83 years on this Earth, I will leave you this,” McCurry said. “The relationship between this post and the community will continue to grow. From this day forward, CW4 Novosel’s name will be the first thing our Soldiers and aspiring aviators see when they drive onto this post, and his name will be the last thing they see when they are handed their graduation certificate and leave to serve our nation – and uphold the sacred trust with the Soldier on the ground.
“His legacy of service and patriotism is a spark to those in uniform striving to be all they can be. He will inspire those in the surrounding community to take up the challenge and serve as part of the Army,” he added. “As the son of immigrants that rose to be a legend in Army Aviation, his story is the American dream — it proves that we can achieve greatness with hard work and dedication if we seize the endless possibilities provided by serving in the Army.
“Mr. Novosel was a proud father, husband, Medal of Honor recipient and the very definition of an American serving his nation. And from today forward, his name will be synonymous with Army Aviation,” McCurry said.