Cerro Gordo County

T/Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist



Staff Sgt. Lyle Norquist, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 First street southeast, has been transferred from Gowen field, Idaho, to Orlando, Fla., to take special training in the army air force’s school of applied tactics.  Sergeant Norquist is an aerial engineer on the crew of a B-17 bomber, and this group was selected from a squadron of 30 as a model to take the training.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, March 9, 1943

Tells of Experiences in Training as Gunner on “Flying Fortress”

Sgt. Lyle Norquist, aerial gunner on a Flying Fortress, related to members of the Lions club some of the feats of the ships, as well as some of the training necessary to pilot them, when he was interviewed by W. H. “Pete” Rees of the Mason City Brick and Tile Company Wednesday noon at the Mason City Country Club.

Members of the club bombarded him with questions, although perhaps with far less accuracy than he hopes to bombard targets overseas within a short time. Sergeant Norquist, formerly an employe of the Western Grocer company here before entering service 14 months ago, has completed his training and is now on furlough before leaving for overseas duty.

Secretary C. E. Gilman of the club introduced Sergeant Norquist to the club members before Mr. Rees began the interview.  President Leo Davey presided.

“I am sold on the heavy bombers and on precision bombing,” Sergeant Norquist told his audience, “and Sioux City (where he completed the last six weeks of his training) has the nicest base of all.  I enjoyed my work there more than in any other place in my training.”

Under questioning by Mr. Rees, Sergeant Norquist took the members of the club on a training tour of the various camps and bases he had been during the past 14 months.

From his induction at Fort Des Moines (before the WACs took over), Sergeant Norquist told his audience of his training at Shepard Field, Texas, where he received the fundamentals of the airline mechanics. From there he went to Santa Monica, Cal., where he entered the Boeing School for training in the mechanics of the “Flying Fortress.”

Upon graduation from this school, he went to Salt Lake City with qualifications for a ground crew member.  There he entered the school of gunnery and was placed in the 29th bombardment group at Boise, Idaho, where he received his first base training for overseas duty. After a month of training, assigned to a combat crew, he moved with his group to Orlando, Fla., where they received training from an experienced member of the royal air force.

Upon finishing his training in tactics, he went to Utah, where he encountered his first night flying, and then to Sioux City.

Sergeant Norquist said that he would go into combat duty with all new equipment and that he hoped he would see action in China.  Sergeant Norquist said that the crew of a Flying Fortress consists of 10 members, who remain with the unit for the duration.

Many incidents of interest concerning the operation of these ships were given by Sergeant Norquist, who acts as engineer as well as gunner.  Their average bombing range is between 18,000 and 20,000 feet. This is not out of reach of anti-aircraft fire, but they are able to outmaneuver it.  The ship’s average flying speed is from 170 to 180 miles an hour. They take off at 130 miles an hour and land at 120 miles an hour and are very sensitive in control.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, July 8, 1943


Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist of 643 First street southeast, received word from their son, S. Sgt. Lyle Norquist, that he has been sent from the air base at Sioux City to the Scribner air base at Hooper, Nebr. 

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, July 23, 1943 (photo included)

Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist Wounded in Action Overseas
Parents Receive Word He Is in Hospital Somewhere in England

Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st S.W., have received word that their son, Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, engineer and gunner on a B-17, has been wounded in action and is in a hospital somewhere in England.

In a letter written to his parents on Dec. 29, he had told of being invited with 4 other boys to a rabbit dinner at one of the oldest inns in that part of England. The meal, he had written, was served in courses with cherry wine after each course. He said that he had an enjoyable Christmas, that the people over there “had surely put themselves out to make us boys feel at home.”

Sgt. Norquist had stated that if the people back home could see planes explode in the air, they surely would think twice before they walk out on their work.  Norquist enlisted in the army in March, 1942, and was graduated from the aerial gunnery school at Wendover, Utah,  in February, 1943.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 18, 1944 (photo included)

Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 641 1st S.E., have received word that their son, Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, has been transferred to the 5th general hospital in England and is getting along fine.  He was presented with the Purple Heart medal on Feb. 2.  Sgt. Norquist was wounded in action on the European front in January. He was an engineer and gunner on a B-17.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, February 15, 1944 (photo included)

“I’ve resolved never, never to go duck hunting again in my life when the war is over,” wrote T. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist from a hospital on a European battle front to Secretary Gilman of the Y.M.C.A.

“I know just how a duck must feel now and it isn’t the best of thoughts,” he added, after having stated that he was struck while on a flying mission on Dec. 31.

“However, I’m well on the mend now and I feel that within another month or so, I will be back flying again.”

Source:  Mason City Globe-Gazette, March 11, 1944

Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist Missing in Action in Germany
Telegram States He Had Been Missing Since May 27

Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st S.E., has been missing in action over Germany since May 27, according to a telegram received from the War Department Tuesday evening.  The message signed by the adjutant general read:

“The secretary of war desires me to express his deep regret that your son, Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist has been reported missing in action since May 27 over Germany. If further details or other information are received you will be promptly notified.”

Tech. Sgt. Norquist had last written home on May 15. At that time he had fully recovered from wounds received in action over southern France and was ready to go out on missions again any day. He had been hospitalized in England for 4 months.

Tech. Sgt. Norquist enlisted in the army on March 30, 1942, and had been overseas since last October, based in England.  He was awarded the Purple Heart on Feb. 2, 1944. His brother, Chief Warrant Officer Stanley Norquist, is stationed at Fort Crockett, Tex.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, June 7, 1944 (photo included)

Describes Raid Over France in Which He Was Wounded 

A letter from Tech. Sgt. Norquist, written to his brother, Chief Warrant Officer Stanley Norquist, from England at the time Sgt. Norquist was hospitalized there in February describes the raid over southern France in which the sergeant was wounded.  Tech. Sgt. Norquist, since that time, recovered from his wounds and had gone on active duty again, when word came that he had been missing in action over Germany since May 27. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st S.E.

“I believe it is safe to give you a little dope on my last raid,” Sgt. Norquist had written his brother. “We were down in southern France after an important target. The trip wasn’t too eventful until we started our bomb run and then all hell broke loose.

“The first thing they hit, was our number one engine, knocking it out and we lost about 2,000 feet of altitude. Then engine number 5 was knocked out with another loss of about 2,000 feet. That time we all were really sweating it out plenty.

“Just about the same time our supercharge of number 2 engine was hit reducing our power there about 50 per cent and an oil line in number 3 engine was broken.  With all this we dropped to about 12,000 feet with our bomb load still on board.

“Just as ‘bombs away’ was given, I felt a sting in both legs as if a bee had hung one on me. I poked the other waste gunner and told him I was hit and needless to say there was blood running all over the floor. The boys were swell and gave me a shot of morphine and I went up to the radio room.

“Just as I sat down the bell rang for ‘prepare to bail out’ so I put my chute on and went back to the main entrance door, which the fellows had released by then. What I mean I prayed plenty while waiting for the bail out order and then to my relief I heard the pilot say he thought we could make it back to England. I then went back to the radio room and the bombardier came back to put a dressing on my legs.

“It was then I learned that the hydraulic system and oxygen system in the nose and cockpit had been hit and exploded causing a fire up there. It was while were waiting for the bail out order that they fought the fire, putting it out. Everyone in the front part had his eye lashes and eyebrows burned off and other burns on faces and necks.

“We were a hell of a looking mess but our spirit was higher than it had ever been. As I sat in the radio room looking out over the great holes in the wings and fuselage where flak had gone through, I thanked God for His divine care in bringing us through that hell of fire.

“All the other ships slowed down to a speed so we came back in formation for our protection.  Jerry attacked us on the way back, but only shot a few holes through the fuselage back near the tail. They missed the tail gunner, for which we were grateful.

“We put down at the first base we came to that had a runway long enough for us. The crew except for the pilot and co-pilot were in the radio room sweating out a landing with no brakes. Just as the wheels hit the ground we lost our number 3 engine, the one with a broken oil line, and rolled off the runway into a field where we spun around until the plane stopped.

“We were at an English base and they were swell. There was an ambulance out to the plane before we stopped spinning to take us to a first aid station. By that time the morphine I had was wearing off so they gave me another shot and fixed me up for the trip to one of our own hospitals.

“It was only a matter of about 3 hours after we landed when I was on the operating table being taken care of. Really, Stan, the only thing that bothered me was being a liability to the crew from noon, when I was hit, until 4:30 when we landed.

“Well, you wanted to know so I’ve given you a complete account of the story. I hope you can use some of it in training our men in defending the western gulf.

“My progress is much slower than I had hoped but maybe it is for the best. On the straight and level, I can walk quite good but going up and down stairs is quite a problem. However, I’m going to lick that before long.”

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, June 26, 1944

Lyle A. Norquist Killed in Action Over Germany
Had Been Listed as Missing Over Germany on May 27

Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st. S.E., who was previously listed as missing in action over Germany since May 27, was reported by the War Department to have been killed in action over Germany on that date, according to a telegram received by his parents Thursday.

“Report now received from the German government through the International Red Cross states your son, Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, who was previously reported missing in action was killed in action on May 27 over Germany,” stated the telegram signed by the adjutant general. 
“The secretary of war extends his deep sympathy. Letter follows.”

The last letter the Norquists had received from their son was written on May 15. At that time he had been hospitalized in England for 4 months from wounds received in action in southern France but had fully recovered and was ready to go out on missions again. It was on one of these missions that he was reported missing.

Tech. Sgt. Norquist enlisted in the army on March 30, 1942, and had been overseas since last October based in England. He was awarded the purple heart on February 2. A brother, Chief Warrant Officer Stanley Norquist is stationed at Fort Crockett, Tex.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, September 8, 1944 (photo included)

Four Awards to Norquist Posthumously

Four awards for Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, killed in action in the European theater of operations last May 27, have been received here by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st S.E.

The awards presented posthumously are the purple heart, air medal, and one oak leaf cluster, a citation of honor and a memorial plaque.

The plaque, signed by the President of the United States, reads as follows:

“In grateful memory of Tech. Sgt. Lyle A. Norquist, who died in the service of his country in the European area, May 27, 1944. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow and increase its blessings.  Freedom lives and through it he lives—in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”

The citation accompanying the air medal with oak leaf cluster stated that it was given “for exceptionally meritorious achievement while participating in sustained bomber combat operations over enemy occupied continental Europe. The courage, coolness, and skill displayed by this enlisted man upon these occasions reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces of the United States.”

The purple heart was given for wounds received in action resulting in his death May 27, 1944. He had previously received the purple heart in February for the first time he was wounded in action.

The citation of honor, U. S. Army Air Forces read:

“Who gave his life in the performance of duty, May 27, 1944. He lived to bear his country’s arms. He died to save its honor. He was a soldier. . . and he knew a soldier’s duty.  His sacrifice will help to keep aglow the flaming torch of liberty. And we who pay him homage and revere his memory in solemn price rededicate ourselves to a complete fulfillment of the task for which he so gallantly has placed his life upon the altar of man’s freedom.”

It was stated that the decorations would be forwarded to the commanding general 7th service command, Omaha, Nebr., who would select an officer to make the presentation, according to the wishes of Mr. and Mrs. Norquist.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, November 22, 1944

Class of ’33 Gives 37 to War Service 

Only 1 boy from the Class of 1933 was called upon to make the supreme sacrifice for his county. He is Lyle Norquist and he served in the army air corps. Lyle was also the holder of the order of the purple heart, air medal, oak leaf cluster, and a memorial plaque has been erected to his memory.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, January 6, 1945

Tells of Plane Crash and Burial of Son at Clefcy

Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 1st S.E., have received a letter from the mayor of Clefcy, France, in an answer to a request for some information in regard to their son, T/Sgt. Lyle Norquist, who was buried there following his death on a combat of planes near the village.

The letter, written in French, was translated by Miss Frances Forster, instructor in languages in the Mason City high school.  The heading of the letter, she says, shows the writer to be in the cattle feed business.

“Dear American Friends,” the letter dated Feb. 24 began, “I have the honor of receiving your letter dated Jan. 11. Here are the details which I can give you on that which is near to your heart.

“Saturday, May 27, 1944, towards noon there was a combat of planes over our village.  Suddenly a Flying Fortress fell on a mountain in our community at the place called “La Maxerelle.” From this plane we saw 3 bodies jump out in parachutes. But unfortunately the plane fell in a little woods and caught fire. This then was the tragedy.

“ The following day, the day of Pentecost, an endless procession kept going to the places of the accident to render homage to these brave aviators. Monday evening the putting into caskets of these 7 bodies took place.

“All information was carefully kept to identify each body contained in each casket, arranged in known order. This information was put in safe keeping in the village town hall, unknown to the Germans, naturally.

“Tuesday, May 30, the services took place at 8 in the morning amidst an enormous crowd. Each person present brought a wreath of flowers and I can assure you that the caskets were hidden under a mountain of flowers.

“Each Frenchman witnessed thus the homage which he rendered to our allies who had given their lives to liberate us from the barbarous Germans. Before such a crowd the Germans forbade the immediate burial and didn’t authorize it until 2:30 in the afternoon.

“Under the debris of the plane of the plane an 8th body was discovered with was buried Wednesday with the same honors as his comrades with the attendance of a large group of men and women under the eye of the German occupant.

“This burial took place in our village cemetery in the shadow of our old church belfry very near the church. The caskets were placed side by side and form a large tomb carefully kept, which has flowers all the year and which receives many who came there on pilgrimages.

“Following your request I shall be happy to send you the photograph you ask. Unfortunately at this moment the country is buried under snow. I have myself a Kodak . . . . One finds it difficult to get films but as soon as I shall be able to do it, I shall send it.

“Alas, of all the information collected, nothing remains now because Clefcy, little village of 300 inhabitants, was evacuated and then almost entirely burned by the Germans.

“You can judge by the photo enclosed the condition in which they left the town hall of Clefcy.  In spite of our ruins, we have not forgotten our brave friends and in June, 1945, a religious service was held in their memory in church, which was spared by the fire. At the beginning of this service a talk recalled the bravery of our allies and a wreath was placed on their tomb.

“I can assure you that the tomb will always be faithfully cared for. I extend my most sincere sympathy to you in your sorrow. Please accept the homage of my most respectful sentiments,” the letter ended. It was signed, “The Mayor—Marcillat.”

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, April 4, 1946 (village photo published with this article)

Norquist Grave in France Transferred to American Cemetery

The body of Lyle Norquist, late son of Mr. and Mrs. E. N. Norquist, 643 First S.E., who was buried along with other members of his crew at Clefcy, France, after being killed in an airplane crash near there, has been moved to the American cemetery in the village of Dinoze, Vosges, close by.

Word of the removal came to the Norquists from the caretaker of the graves at Clefcy, who stated that the Amercian service of the military burials came to transfer the bodies.

“In spite of that,” the former caretaker wrote, “we shall preserve a reverent memory of those who have fallen on our township for our liberation. At Clefcy we shall always keep alive the memory of our dear friends having died for our cause and each time that we shall be able we shall recall this remembrance on the anniversary dates of that tragic day.”

The Norquists were also sent some snapshots showing the common grave of the 8 air force men killed in the crash.  Norquist was a technical sergeant.

Source: Mason City Globe-Gazette, December 17, 1946