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Widow receives husband's Distinguished Flying Cross for WWII

  • Published
  • By Carl Bergquist
  • Air University Public Affairs
On behalf of her husband, Mrs. William Norred received the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor from Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, before a group of family members, friends and well wishers April 13.

The ceremony took place at the Butler County Commission in Greenville, Ala., and the medal was presented for Capt. William Norred's actions during World War II.

General Peck told Mrs. Norred the honor is "not given lightly," and a correction to military records is a "significant event."

In December 2008 the Air Force Board for Correction of Military Records reviewed the evidence and corrected Captain Norred's records by directing he be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"This ceremony represents justice delayed, but justice done," General Peck told Mrs. Norred. "It's an honor for me to be sure this is done right. Captain Norred follows in the footsteps of Charles Lindbergh, who was the first to receive the DFC, the Wright Brothers and those who have served with valor in combat."

He told the audience Captain Norred, who died in August 2008, exemplified Air Force Core Values, and the general also thanked a group of school children for attending.

"It's great to see youngsters here today," he said. "We are losing our World War II veterans at the rate of about 1,000 each day, so I'm glad you could make it to this ceremony."

Mrs. Norred described the event as an emotional time. She said she really appreciated General Peck traveling to Greenville to make the presentation and knew her husband would have appreciated it as well.

"I know my husband is looking down, a little embarrassed perhaps, but pleased with this," she said. "I can only think of two words to say, thank you."

Butler County Commissioner, Jesse McWilliams, speaking for the commission, said he was truly honored to be at the ceremony, and, for him, there was also a personal reason.

"I grew up across the road from the Norreds," he said. "Mr. Norred was a good man his whole life, and in his last days, he was a class act."

Greenville Mayor Dexter McLendon said he, too, was honored to take part in the medal presentation because this was, "a wonderful family and a wonderful occasion."

"We would not be here today if not for people like Mr. Norred," he said. "We would not have the freedom we enjoy."

Navy Admiral Clyde Marsh, retired Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs commissioner, described Captain Norred as, "A hero who has flown into the sun for the last time," he said there was no where else he would want to be than at the ceremony.

"It is men like him who have paved the way for us," he said. "I salute Captain Norred who made the crucial effort to make our country safe, and I salute you the family for believing in him as a husband and a father. He was the embodiment of courage and honor and is a great American who will not be forgotten."

The citation that accompanied the medal said Captain Norred distinguished himself by heroism and outstanding professional skills during an aerial flight as a B-26 Marauder pilot in the African Theater, June 15, 1943. It said he "contributed singularly" to the success of his group as flight leader and formation commander.

During the mission over Rizzo Airdrome, Sicily, the captain's plane was damaged by intense anti-aircraft fire, but he "masterfully" maintained control of the B-26, led the formation through evasive actions and completed a "devastating" bombing run. Captain Norred's unescorted aircraft was then attacked by 12 enemy fighters. He was able to outmaneuver the fighters, five of which were destroyed.

"On this and many other missions his resolute leadership and skilled flying technique have reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Army Air Corps," the citation said.