US Navy Captain
On December 7, 1941, Petty Officer Robert (Bob) Norman was sitting on his bunk aboard the battle ship USS Nevada docked in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when the Japanese launched their sneak attack on the naval base.
The ship was torpedoed and hit with ten bombs sinking it into the shallow harbor.
After the second wave of attacks and while the ship was on fire, Bob climbed up the outside of a mast to rescue a stranded ensign who had been critically injured. In so doing Bob’s clothes caught on fire, scorching his back as he strapped the ensign to a stretcher, tied it to the mast, and slowly lowered it down to the deck—all the while bullets and bombs were flying around their heads.
That ensign, Joseph Taussig, like Bob, survived and had a long, fruitful career in the US Navy.
As Captain Norman finished his career he held two of the navy’s top four medals for bravery. He was awarded a Bronze Star for a rescue off North Vietnam, and the Silver Star for his actions during the Pearl Harbor attack.
Robert Norman was 93 when he died August 19, 2013. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.
Interview with Robert Norman
Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Date Created: November 24, 2009
Date Published: December 2, 2016
Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.
Tags: Battleship, USS Oklahoma, USS Arizona, USS Nevada, Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, USS Iowa, Japan attack, December 7, 1941, Naval ship yard, military base, Ford Island, Japanese bombs