Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Norstad, Lauris (1907–1988)

U.S. Army Air Forces general. Born on 24 March 1907 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Lauris Norstad graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1930. Commissioned in the cavalry, he was soon assigned to the Army Air Corps. After a series of operational assignments in the Air Corps, he graduated from the Air Corps Tactical School in 1939 and was promoted to captain the next year. In November 1940, he was the assistant chief of staff for intelligence at General Headquarters, Air Force. He was promoted to major in June 1941 and to lieutenant colonel in January 1942. In February 1942, Norstad served as a member of commander of Army Air Forces Lieutenant General Henry Arnold's personal advisory council and conducted studies on strategic issues. He was promoted to colonel in July 1942 and became the assistant chief of staff for operations of the Twelfth Air Force. In this capacity, he traveled to London and helped plan the air component of the invasion of North Africa, Operation torch.

After the invasion, Norstad also assumed broader responsibility as assistant chief of staff for operations for Northwest African Air Forces. Promoted to brigadier general in March 1943, that December he became director of operations of the Mediterranean Allied Air Forces. He helped plan and direct the air operations during the invasions of Sicily and Italy and air support for the campaign in Italy, including the interdiction efforts of Operations strangle and diadem.

In August 1944, Norstad returned to Washington with dual responsibilities as chief of staff for the Twentieth Air Force and deputy chief of the air staff. His staff responsibilities changed when he was made assistant chief of the air staff for plans in May 1945. The next month, he was promoted to major general. In his Twentieth Air Force role, Norstad was directly involved in planning the final bombing campaign against Japan, including the dropping of the atomic bombs.

After the war, Norstad served as the director of plans and operations of the War Department, and in 1947 he became the first vice chief of staff for operations of the new U.S. Air Force. In October 1950, General Norstad began a series of senior European assignments in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He initially served as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe (1950–1953) with combined responsibility as Commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe. In July 1952, he was advanced to full general. He was then elevated to air deputy to the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (1953–1956) and then to Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (and to commander in chief of U.S. European Command when it was created). He served as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, from November 1956 until he retired in January 1963. Norstad died in Tucson, Arizona, on 12 September 1988.

Jerome V. Martin


Further Reading
Jordan, Robert S. Norstad: Cold War NATO Supreme Commander: Airman, Strategist, Diplomat. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2000.; Sherry, Michael S. The Rise of American Air Power: The Creation of Armageddon. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1987.
 

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