One of Maryland’s Congressional Medal of Honor recipients, former Lt. Thomas R. Norris, will be among the 44 medal recipients in Annapolis this week for a convention of those who have received the nation’s highest military honor for gallantry and bravery in combat.
This will mark the first time the event for Medal of Honor recipients will assemble in Annapolis, and the honorees will have a private lunch with Naval Academy midshipmen, review the formal parade of the brigade, and attend Saturday’s Navy football game against Lehigh.
Cmdr. David McKinney, a Naval Academy spokesman, called the visit “an honor and privilege.”
“The Medal of Honor recipients provide an inspiration for midshipmen to emulate as they have been tested and their honor, courage and commitment allowed them to prevail in the most difficult of circumstances,” he said.
On Friday evening, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society will host a dinner at Dahlgren Hall at the Naval Academy to present Patriot Awards to four individuals “who exemplify the values and principles of the Society and the nation.”
Those being recognized are Secretary of Defense James Mattis, comedian Jay Leno, television news anchor Chris Wallace, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Among those attending is Norris, of Silver Spring. A University of Maryland graduate, Norris is one of three Navy SEALs to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for service during the Vietnam War.
An Atlantic Conference wrestling champion in 1965 and 1966, Norris joined the SEALs in 1969. In 1972, Norris led what his citation called “an unprecedented ground rescue of two downed pilots deep within heavily controlled enemy territory.”
One pilot was located behind enemy and returned to safety. To rescue the other pilot, the citation describes how Norris, dressed in fishermen disguises and using a sampan, traveled through the night and found him.
“Covering the pilot with bamboo and vegetation,” he overcame heavy machine gun fire to complete the rescue. The other pilot was located behind enemy lines and returned to safety.
“By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, undaunted courage, and selfless dedication in the face of extreme danger, Lt. Norris enhanced the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service,” said the citation, awarded on March 6, 1976, by President Gerald Ford.
The convention will provide an opportunity for the public to meet Norris and other Medal of Honor recipients. A number of them will sign autographs and pose for photos with members of the public from 3 to 5:10 p.m. Thursday at the Westin Annapolis Hotel. Tickets can be found at Event Brite. The event is first come, first serve.