Thursday, July 19, 2012

TFH 7/19: Captain Norman L. Wells, USAF

Norman Louross Wells was born on March 7, 1933 in Annapolis, Maryland. He enlisted in the United States Air Force on April 18, 1952. Two and a half years later, he received his pilot's wings and a commission as a Second Lieutenant via the Aviation Cadet program.

He initially flew two North American Aviation products, the F-86 Sabre and the F-100 Super Sabre. In the early 1960s, Wells transitioned to the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. He was flying them from Bitburg Air Base in Germany from 1963 to 1966 when he was sent to fly and fight in Vietnam.

On July 19, 1966, then-Captain Wells led a flight of F-105s from the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing's 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron on a strike mission. He was awarded the Air Force Cross for both penetrating the enemy's defenses to deliver his bombs on target then for courageously engaging and destroying an enemy fighter after the bomb run.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Captain Norman Louross Wells (AFSN: 0-3037386/13430498), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, in action near Phuc Yen, North Vietnam, on 19 July 1966. On that date, Captain Wells led a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs against a heavily defended petroleum products storage area ten miles northwest of Hanoi. After penetrating a curtain of exploding steel to deliver his deadly ordnance on this vital target, Captain Wells then shot down one of two MiGs who were attacking the second element of the formation. After a much-needed aerial refueling, Captain Wells provided top cover for a successful rescue by helicopters of a friendly pilot who had ejected over hostile territory. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Captain Wells reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Norman Wells was also decorated with the Silver Star and five Distinguished Flying Crosses for his combat service in Vietnam.

About one month after his Air Force Cross mission, Wells was shot down on August 21, 1966. He bailed out over the Gulf of Tonkin and was rescued. Eight days later, he wouldn't be so lucky. During his 75th combat mission, Wells was shot down again on August 29th. This time he was captured by the North Vietnamese and remained as their prisoner until his release on March 4, 1973 - 2,379 days. Wells retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, having been promoted through the ranks during his captivity, soon after his release on November 1, 1973. He is still living.

Wells' Vietnam-era squadron is today known as the 354th Fighter Squadron. The squadron is part of the 355th Operations Group, 355th Fighter Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon, Arizona. They currently fly the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II for close-air support missions against the enemies of liberty.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.