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First Name: Lauris

Last Name: Norstad

Birthplace: Minneapolis, MN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Date of Birth: 24 March 1907

Date of Death: 12 September 1988

Rank: General

Years Served: 1930-1963
Lauris Norstad

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1930

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Lauris Norstad
General, U.S. Air Force

Lauris Norstad was born on 24 March 1907 in Minneapolis, MN. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy on 12 June 1930 and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Cavalry. In September 1930, he entered Primary Flying School at March Field, CA, and graduated from Advanced Flying School and was transferred to the Air Corps in June 1931. In January 1932 he was assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group at Schofield Barracks, HI; he assumed Command of the Group in July 1933. In March 1936 he was named Adjutant of the Ninth Bomb Group there. Entering the "short course" at the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, AL, in September 1939, he graduated three months later and returned to Mitchel Field as Officer-in-Charge of the 9th Bomb Group Navigation School.

Moving to Langley Field, VA, in July 1940, Norstad was Adjutant of the 25th Bomb Group and, the following November, he was named Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of General Headquarters Air Force there. In February 1942 he was appointed a member of the Advisory Council to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces at Washington, DC.

World War II

In August 1942, Norstad was named Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the 12th Air Force, going to England with it the following month in support of Operation Husky; then to Algiers, North Africa in October 1942.

In February 1943, he assumed the additional duty of Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the Northwest African Air Forces. In December 1943, he was appointed Director of Operations of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces at Algiers, moving with it to Caserta, Italy, two months later.

Norstad was promoted to Brigadier General in the fall of 1944 and transferred to Washington, in August 1944, where he was Deputy Chief of Air Staff at Army Air Force Headquarters with added duty as Chief of Staff of the 20th Air Force. He was relieved of this additional duty 8 May 1945, and assumed additional duty as Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Plans at Army Air Force Headquarters.

Relieved of assignment as Chief of Staff of the 20th Air Force in February 1946, he continued as Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Plans until the following June, when he was appointed Director of the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department in Washington.

On 1 October 1947, following the division of the War Department into the Departments of The Army and The Air Force, Norstad was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of the Air Force, and the following May assumed additional duty as Acting Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.

SHAPE Leadership

In October 1950, Norstad became Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), with Headquarters at Wiesbaden, Germany. On 2 April 1951 he assumed additional duty as Commanding General of the Allied Air Forces in Central Europe under the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE).

On 5 July 1952, Norstad was promoted to the four-star rank of General. He was designated Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander of SHAPE on 27 July 1953.

Relieved of duty as Air Deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander of SHAPE on 20 November 1956, President Eisenhower appointed General Norstad to become Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and Commander-in-Chief, U.S. European Command. As such he initially encouraged France to develop its own nuclear capacity, but then defected on the idea once he grew disillusioned with French President Charles de Gaulle's interference with NATO.

General Norstad retired on 31 December 1963.

Medals and Awards

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)
Silver Star Medal
Legion of Merit (2 Awards)
Air Medal
French Legion of Honor (by decision of General de Gaulle himself)

He was rated a Command Pilot, Combat Observer, and Technical Observer.

Death and Burial

General Lauris Norstad died on 12 September 1988. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 30.

Honoree ID: 802   Created by: MHOH




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