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Lauris Norstad
1907 (1907) – September 12, (2010-09-13) 1988 (aged 80–81)
Lauris Norstad NATO photo.jpg
General Lauris Norstad
Place of birth Minneapolis, Minnesota
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service 1930-1963
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Commands held Supreme Allied Commander Europe
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star
Legion of Merit (2)
Air Medal
French Legion of Honor

Lauris Norstad (March 24, 1907–September 12, 1988) was an American General in the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force.


Early life and military career

Lauris Norstad was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1907. He graduated from the United States Military Academy June 12, 1930 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Cavalry. In September 1930, he entered Primary Flying School at March Field, California, and graduated from Advanced Flying School and was transferred to the Air Corps in June 1931. Going to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, in January 1932, he was assigned to the 18th Pursuit Group, assuming command of it in July 1933. In March 1936 he was named adjutant of the Ninth Bomb Group there. Entering the "short course" the Air Corps Tactical School at Maxwell Field, Alabama, in September 1939, he graduated three months later and returned to Mitchel Field as officer in charge of the 9th Bomb Group Navigation School.

Moving to Langley Field, Virginia, in July 1940, General Norstad was Adjutant of the 25th Bomb Group, and the following November he was named Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence of General Headquarters Air Force there. In February 1942 he was appointed a member of the Advisory Council to the commanding general of the Army Air Forces at Washington, D.C.

World War II

In August 1942, General Norstad was named assistant chief of staff for operations of the 12th Air Force, going to England with it the following month in support of Operation Husky, and to Algiers, North Africa in October 1942.

In February 1943, he assumed the additional duty of assistant chief of staff for operations of the Northwest African Air Forces. In December 1943 he was appointed director of operations of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces at Algiers, moving with it to Caserta, Italy, two months later.

Transferred to Washington, D.C. in August 1944, General Norstad was deputy chief of Air Staff at Army Air Force Headquarters with added duty as chief of staff of the 20th Air Force. He was relieved of this additional duty May 8, 1945, and assumed additional duty as assistant chief of Air Staff for Plans at Army Air Force Headquarters.

Relieved of assignment as chief of staff of the 20th Air Force in February 1946, he continued as assistant chief of air staff for plans until the following June, when he was appointed director of the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department at Washington, D.C.

On October 1, 1947, following the division of the War Department into the Departments of The Army and The Air Force, General Norstad was appointed deputy chief of staff for operations of the Air Force, and the following May assumed additional duty as acting vice chief of staff of the Air Force.

SHAPE Leadership

Joining the U.S. Air Forces in Europe in October 1950 General Norstad was commander in chief, USAFE, with Headquarters at Wiesbaden, Germany. On April 2, 1951 he assumed additional duty as commanding general of the Allied Air Forces in Central Europe under the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Powers in Europe. He was designated air deputy to the supreme allied commander, Europe, SHAPE, on July 27, 1953.

Relieved of duty as air deputy to supreme allied commander, Europe November 20, 1956, the president appointed General Norstad to become Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and commander in chief, U.S. European Command. As such he initially encouraged France to develop its own nuclear capacity, but then defected on the idea once he grew disillusioned with French President Charles de Gaulle's interference with NATO.

His decorations included the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Air Medal, and the French Legion of Honor by decision of General de Gaulle himself. He was rated a command pilot, combat observer, and technical observer.

General Norstad retired on December 31, 1963. He died on September 12, 1988.


External links

Further reading

  • Jordan, Robert S. Norstad: Cold War NATO Supreme Commander—Airman, Strategist, Diplomat St. Martin's Press, 2000. 350 pp.
Military offices
Preceded by
Gen. Alfred Gruenther
Supreme Allied Commander Europe (NATO)
Succeeded by
Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer


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