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Monday, April 6, 2009

Flags flown at half staff for Norman

Gov. Bob Riley has authorized Alabama’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Abner C. Blalock, to direct flags be flown at half staff at all Alabama National Guard state facilities in honor of Maj. Gen. Joel W. Norman.

The flags will be flown at half staff on Tuesday, April 7, the day of Norman’s funeral and interment. A Crenshaw County native, Norman passed away Friday, April 3, in Pensacola, Fla. after an extended illness.

“Gen. Joel Norman built a proud and distinguished legacy of service to his state and nation as a member of the Alabama Army National Guard,” said Blalock. “The Alabama Guard is better because of his many years of dedicated service. Lowering the flags on National Guard facilities is a formal way of recognizing this great warrior’s distinguished service in war and peace."

“He came from a family of patriots which had several members that served their state and nation with honor. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Blalock said. He noted that both of General Norman’s sons are currently members of the Alabama Army National Guard.

Norman’s Guard career began in 1957 and spanned more than 42 years. He spent four years as an enlisted man before being commissioned a second lieutenant in June 1961 after completing the state OCS program, the Alabama Military Academy.

Most of his early career was spent in field artillery units where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel and was assigned as commander of the 2nd Battalion 117th Field Artillery.

In April 1988, he was promoted to colonel and assigned as commander of the 226th Theater Area Support Group in Mobile. The 226th was activated and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq in 1990 in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The 226th was lauded by many senior commanders as one of the best units in the Persian Gulf Theater.

He was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as deputy adjutant general in the Alabama Guard state headquarters in March 1993. His next assignments were as deputy commanding general of the 167th Support Command in Birmingham and as commander of the 31st Chemical Brigade in Northport.

He was promoted to major general in August 1997 and assigned as commander of the 62nd Troop Command in Montgomery. He retired from that assignment on September 30, 1999.

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I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 


As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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