My father fought and was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. I am also an honorary Marine. My brother Aaron served in the U.S. Army in Korea. And our brother, Wieland, served in the U.S. Army, as well, in Vietnam, where he paid the ultimate price on June 3, 1970. (His name is etched among the 58,000 fallen service members on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.) Wieland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with "V" device (first oak leaf cluster) for his heroism Aug. 27, 1970.
The official correspondence about the award from Adjutant General Thomas E. Minix details Wieland's heroism in this way: "For heroism in ground combat against a hostile force in the Republic of Vietnam on 3 June 1970. Private Norris distinguished himself while serving as assistant machine gunner in Company A, 2d Battalion (Airmobile), 506th Infantry, during combat operations near Fire Support Base Ripcord, Republic of Vietnam. When his platoon made contact with an enemy reconnaissance team, Private Norris volunteered to walk in the lead position to inspect the area after the enemy was engaged by aerial rocket artillery. Approaching the top of a hill, he noticed two hostile soldiers waiting in ambush. Private Norris immediately shouted a warning to his fellow soldiers, drawing the hostile fire to himself, mortally wounding him. His alertness prevented the insurgents from inflicting numerous casualties on his platoon. Private Norris' personal bravery and devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army."
On the day Wieland sacrificed his own life, I lost my best friend and brother, and the hearts of my mother and my other brother, Aaron, and my own were torn in two. That day, we unwillingly joined the ranks of those families of fallen warriors.
It has been 41 years since my brother left for his heavenly home, and we miss him and are as proud of him today as we were back then. This Memorial Day week (which concludes with the anniversary of his death), we again honor and commemorate his sacrifice and courage, along with all our other valiant patriots.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Todd W. Weaver and my brother Pvt. Wieland Clyde Norris are just two stellar examples of hundreds of thousands of fallen warriors who are worthy of our thanks and honor. They all serve not only as our heroes but also as reminders that our liberties and republic are worth fighting for.
About such patriots, Gen. George S. Patton was right: "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived."