“Thank you, God, for always making Fred Norman, ‘Just right,’” said Mountain Valley Hospice Chaplain Dr. Bill Johnson, in his invocation.
Several community members and dignitaries, including North Carolina Senator Don East and Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, gathered at Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital to honor Fred Norman. The helicopter pad outside of the hospital’s emergency center was given to by Dr. Jim and Isabel Harrell in Norman’s honor.
“Fred was there when Patton landed and all the way through to the end of the war with him. Few soldiers were able to go all the way through the war with Patton,” said Harrell. “Isabel and I decided we would give money in order to name the pad after Fred. Fred Norman has the greatest war hero record in this community or anywhere else around.”
A plaque outside the helicopter pad reads: In honor of Fred Charles Norman. A great American World War II veteran who serviced in the tank corps from the beginning to the end of the war with General George Patton’s Third Army. Given by Jim and Isabel Harrell.
At the dedication, Harrell spotlighted Norman’s military career while fighting in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne under General Patton.
Norman was drafted, at the age of 19, and sent to California for training in February 1943. He went overseas to England in February 1944 and first saw combat on July 16, 1944, with General George S. Patton.
Norman and his division fired the first shots across the Moselle River in France into Germany in September of 1944. In December, Norman was part of the Siege of Bastogne that helped relieve the 101st Airborne Division surrounded by Germans. The siege lasted from December 20 to 27.
One Christmas day, the men rode all day in their tanks until 9 a.m. until they came to a large mess hall.
Each soldier was handed a Christmas greeting card. On one side was a Christmas greeting from Patton. The other had a prayer written for Patton during the Battle of Bastogne to clear up the weather. Norman still keeps the card in his daily devotional Bible. The next day, the heavy fog over Bastogne lifted.
Norman was there at the end of the war in the European theater and entered Berlin, Germany on July 4, 1945, with Britain and French troops; Russia was already there. The Potsdam Conference was held in Berlin 12 days later.
As the war ended, Norman and his division liberated the German concentration camp, Buchenwald.
Norman was released from the military in May 1945 and married his sweetheart Nan “Hon” Johnson on Dec. 1, 1945.
In 1967, the original Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital was condemned and Norman was on the board to help raise money for a new hospital.
“Jimmy and I have been lifelong friends,” Norman said after Harrell’s presentation. “We were born in the same room and went to school together from first grade to high school.”
Norman said he has had a great life and it could not have been better.
“My love and thanks to the Harrell family,” he said. “And my love and thanks to everyone who attended this ceremony today.”
Reach Jessica Pickens at 835-1513 ext. 18 or email@example.com