Baseball fans applaud Bob Norton for service
Ninety-seven-year-old Bob Norton, of Wyoming, looked over 25,000 fans from the plaza at Target Field Thursday, Aug. 15, before the Twins’ 4-3 comeback win against the Chicago White Sox.
All eyes were on the World War II veteran, as he stood up from his wheelchair to raise the American flag as part of the pre-game ceremony.
Norton enlisted in the Navy shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor as a pharmacist mate aboard a landing craft tank headed to Morocco and Casablanca. Norton trained as a medic in North Africa before his unit battled its way through Sicily and Salermo Beach in Italy.
Norton’s unit was among the first waves of Allies to hit Omaha Beach on D-Day before its landing craft tank ran into trouble and broke apart just before shore. The medic later traveled to the South Pacific in late 1944 to prepare for a battle against Japan that never came.
Last week, longtime friends Mark Holl, of Forest Lake, and former Wyoming resident Dale Sandahl escorted Norton to the evening game after calling Twins officials to arrange the flag-raising honor. They stood by Norton’s side as numerous baseball fans shook the veteran’s hands and thanked him for his service. Holl said Norton’s reply is always humble in nature despite his years and miles in the Navy.
“He’s not the kind of guy who makes light of everything,” Holl said. “But when asked, he’ll tell you the story and say ‘that’s all I did.’”
As a Minnesota Twins event manager secured the final ties to the flag pole, Norton took a step back, looked up and saluted to the red, white and blue.
Later, Norton simply smiled and said, “It was just great.”