Capt. James R. “Bob” Normile passed away Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013.
He was born Aug. 17, 1918. Bob Normile was a “Mustang,” U.S. Army Air Corps Aviation Cadet Officer. He originally enlisted with the Illinois National Guard, 33rd Infantry Division, 108th Quartermaster Regiment, in 1937, separating as a technical sergeant in 1939. He subsequently re-enlisted in the regular U.S. Army as a private in March 1942. In April 1943, he was selected as an aviation cadet. He obtained his commission and earned his pilot wings in June 1944.
He attended 64 weeks of cadet aviation training, including: U.S. Army Air Forces Aircraft Armament School, at Lowery Field, Colo., for 12 weeks; Power Turret School in St. Louis, Mo., for four weeks; Cadet Training at the College of Idaho for 12 weeks; Pilot Pre-Flight School in Santa Ana, Calif., for 10 weeks; Pilot Primary School in Hemet, Calif., for 10 weeks; Pilot Basic in Merced, Calif., for 10 weeks; Pilot Advanced School in Douglas, Ariz., for 10 weeks and General Army Administration School there for three more weeks.
During cadet training he flew PT-22 Ryan Recruits, the XE-108, the L-5, the North American L-17A Navion and BT-13B Vultee Valiant single-engine aircraft. He also trained on the Cessna UC-78B multi-engine Bobcat, designated AT-8 by the Air Corps.
As a pilot, Capt. Bob Normile was assigned to Office of the Chief of Staff, Gen. MacArthur’s headquarters in the South West Pacific Theatre of Operations as a flying staff officer. He subsequently went on to fly C-46s, C-47s, C-54s, B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-17Cs, B-24 Liberators and the B-25 aircraft. He completed 1,244 hours of flying time. He flew 13 combat missions, completing 79 hours of combat time, and served overseas in the Asiatic-Pacific theatre for 18 months.
After graduation from flight school in June 1944, he flew directly to Nadzab, New Guinea, to Gen. MacArthur’s HQ. He visited Luzon, Manila, Australia, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo, Brisbane, Fiji, Hawaii, Kwajalein, Guam and other exotic places, eventually flying the Pacific six times.
During his aviation career, he experienced three single-engine plane failures, two multi-engine failures and one crash landing. In that situation, he lost power and crash-landed a single-engine L-5 off New Guinea on a small island near Wadke Island, where, as luck would have it, his old IL NG 33rd Division was engage fighting the Japanese.
While in Japan from August 1945 to March 1946, Capt. Normile witnessed and lived history. In late August 1945 he flew Gen. MacArthur from the Phillipines to Okinawa on his way to Japan to sign the surrender documents. Later, after flying into Japan, Capt. Normile literally drove Gen. Krueger, 6th Army Commander, and Gen. Wainwright, who surrendered American troops at Corregidor, from Atsugi Airfield to Yokohama in an old Dodge car for the World War II surrender ceremonies. Gen. Wainwright signed the same Philippine peso “short snorter” note that Gen. MacArthur, his wife and son signed.
Capt. Normile participated in the New Guinea, Luzon and Southern Philippines battles and campaigns. His decorations and citations include the Philippines Liberation Medal with one Bronze Star, World War II Victory Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal with three Bronze Stars and the American Theatre Medal. He separated from service on May 11, 1946, at Camp McCoy, Wis.
Capt. Bob Normile graduated from the College of Idaho in 1943 after completing Army Air Forces College training program. He was married for a total of 59 years, 28 years to Audrey Normile, with whom he had seven children.
Capt. Bob Normile is survived by his current wife of 31 years, Maureen; sons, Michael, Paul and Daniel Normile; daughters, Kathy Normile, Nancy Mont Blanc, Linda Petty and Colleen Drago; 15 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Contributions: In lieu of flowers, please contribute to Tidewell Hospice, 5955 Rand Blvd., Sarasota FL 34238.