24 Oct 1937 24 Sep 1968
Hostile death, Vietnam,
aged 30 years
Interment: Oakwood Cemetery,
Class Memorial Pages\D-1 Norm Cunningham.pdf
Taps Memorial Article:
MAJOR NORMAN NORTHRUP CUNNINGHAM was born 24 October 1937 (his fathers birthday) in Van Nuys, California, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Merle C. Cunningham. His childhood and youth were characterized by an eagerness and enthusiasm for everything he did. He has a strong desire to excel.
Norman was in the Boy Scout program Cubs, Scouts, and Explorers. In high school he was in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), and the National Guard. At the University of California at Los Angeles he was also in the ROTC and he spent one summer in the training program of the Marines at Quantico-then the Academy. His brother says: He must have had a hang-up on uniforms. During part of this time, he was also very active with his age groups at church. Unfortunately, he fell away from religion, to a large extent later on.
Special mention should be made of his achievements in high school ROTC. In each of his three years he won first place in the manual of arms competition, sponsored by the American Legion, among all the ROTC units in the Los Angeles area. One year there were 4,500 cadets competing. Once his award was presented by General of the Army Omar N. Bradley. When he was commander of his ROTC company, it was judged the best drilled in the British-United competition among some twenty schools. He was a delegate to Boys State in his junior year, sponsored by the American Legion.
After two years at the University of California at Los Angeles, Norman obtained a principal appointment to the U.S. Military Academy from Congressman Joe Holt. He did this entirely on his own without even our knowledge. He enjoyed his four years there very much. He went in for wrestling, tennis, and skiing the latter became his favorite recreation in later years. He thought he had a good average mind, but not brilliant. Academics did not come easyily for him. However, by dint of strenuous effort he was able to graduate in about the middle of his class.
When commissioned, he chose Armor. Then came Fort Knox, special training courses, three years in Germany, and another year at Fort Knox training recruits. Before going to Vietnam the first time, he studied Vietnamese at the Monterey Language School. He spent the first half of his tour as an advisor in the MACV program and the second as a liaison officer. He liked the Vietnamese people, but thought their army, at that time, was not nearly aggressive enough.
On returning, he asked for flight training, which he had desired for some time. This was granted, and he spent a period at Fort Rucker and another at Hunter Army Air Field learning to fly helicopters. He was then assigned to Fort Knox until an Advanced Officer Training Course opened in April 1969. After arriving there, he decided that that duty did not appeal to him and managed to get his orders changes for a second tour in Vietnam. Probably he thought this service would advance his career and give him a chance to use his flight training. He also felt that we had a moral obligation there, and he wanted to be where the action was.
Norman was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry regiment. On 24 September 1968, he was on a reconnaissance flight in a fixed-wing plane piloted by an Air Force officer. The plane did not return, and his body was found about two months later. In April 1969, Cunningham Street at the Blackhorse Base Camp was named for him. In that connection his last commander, Colonel George S. Patton, wrote:
Norman was an outstanding soldier, a professional in every sense of the word. His loyal service and devotion to duty have set an example for all men of this command.
Normans awards include the bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal with fourteen oak leaf clusters, and the National Order of Vietnam. He is survived by his parents, a brother Marvin B. Cunningham, and a sister Mrs. Gary (Gwendolyn) McDaniel.
Thus ended a promising career. What can one say? We can only hope and pray that the investment in this officers training and the sacrifice of his young life will not be in vain. May he be at peace wherever he is commanded today among the legions of the Eternal Kingdom.
Merle C. Cunningham
Gladys N. Cunningham
ASSEMBLY, Summer 1970
Maj Norman Northrop Cunningham served with
Air Cavalry Troop, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Vietnam when he was killed on
Sept 24, 1968.
He now rests peacefully in Oakwood Cemetery, Chatsworth, CA.
11th ACR Researcher