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Thomas Rolland Norris


U.S. Navy (SEAL)
Medal Of Honor, Vietnam

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Lieutenant Norris completed an unprecedented ground rescue of two downed pilots. On one night he led a five-man patrol through 2,000 meters of heavily controlled enemy territory, located one of the downed pilots at daybreak, and returned to the Forward Operating Base. The next day, after a devastating mortar and rocket attack on the small FOB, Lieutenant Norris led a three-man team on two unsuccessful rescue attempts for the second pilot. The next afternoon a forward air controller located the pilot and notified Lieutenant Norris. Dressed in fishermen disguises and using a sampan, Lieutenant Norris and one Vietnamese traveled throughout that night and found the injured pilot at dawn. Covering the pilot with bamboo and vegetation, they began the return journey, successfully evading a North Vietnamese patrol. Approaching the FOB, they came under heavy machinegun fire. Lieutenant Norris called in an air strike which provided suppression fire and a smoke screen, allowing the rescue party to reach the FOB.

The two pilots rescued by Lieutenant Norris were Mark Clark (son of the famous WWII general) and Iceal Hambleton, whose story was told in the movie "Bat 21".  Lt. Norris highly classified rescue was omitted from the screenplay. The Vietnamese SEAL who accompanied him was one of only two Vietnamese awarded the Navy Cross during the Vietnam War.

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Tom Norris and Nguyen Van Kiet, the South Vietnamese LDNN who received the Navy Cross for accompanying Norris on his MOH rescue mission.

 Read the Story of Tom Norris and Mike Thornton 

 

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