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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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Vietnam War - U.S. Navy

Thomas Rolland Norris

  • Rank: Lieutenant
  • Conflict/Era: Vietnam War
  • Unit/Command:
    Strategic Technical Directorate Assistance Team, SEAL Advisor,
    U.S. Military Assistance Command, Headquarters
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Navy
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: April 10 - 13, 1972
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Quang Tri Province, Republic of Vietnam

Lt. Norris completed an unprecedented ground rescue of two downed pilots deep within heavily controlled enemy territory in Quang Tri Province. Lt. Norris, on the night of 10 April, led a five-man patrol through 2,000 meters of heavily controlled territory, located one of the downed pilots at daybreak, and returned to the Forward Operating Base (FOB). On 11 April, after a devastating mortar and rocket attack on the small FOB, Lt. Norris led a three-man team on two unsuccessful rescue attempts for the second pilot. On the afternoon of the 12th, a forward air controller located the pilot and notified Lt. Norris. Dressed in fishermen disguises and using a sampan, Lt. Norris and one Vietnamese traveled throughout the 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 machine-gun fire. Lt. Norris called in an air strike which provided suppression fire and a smoke screen, allowing the rescue party to reach the FOB. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, undaunted courage, and selfless dedication in the face of extreme danger, Lt. Norris enhanced the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval service.

Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: March 6, 1976

    The White House, presented by Pres. Gerald R. Ford

  • Born: January 14, 1944, Jacksonville, Duval County, FL, United States

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