Skip to comments.Navy gunner honored
Posted on 08/16/2006 8:00:37 PM PDT by biggerten
A member of the greatest generation will be honored Friday for service to his country during World War II. A flag will be raised in memory of Daniel Norkunas, a longtime Chaffey resident, in front of the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center at 9 a.m. Friday as part of the Flags of Honor program.
During WWII, Norkunas served in the U.S. Navy. Aboard the USS Laub (DD-613) he participated in convoys across the Atlantic. In July 1943, while bombarding the shore during the invasion of Sicily, Laub downed an enemy aircraft attacking the invasion fleet. He recalled feeling the heat and smelling the smoke as the burning aircraft passed overhead before crashing into the sea.
Off Algeria in November, enemy planes attacked on Laubs convoy. Once the raid was over, Laub rescued 341 survivors. In 1944, when he was still only age 19, the Laub was bombarding the Anzio beachhead when she was cut in half by a collision with the cruiser Philadelphia. Norkunas suffered a broken arm while setting depth charges to safe as the crew frantically tried to lighten the ship. One depth charge detonated beneath the stern, but both halves of the Laub continued to float. She eventually rejoined the war.
Norkunas transferred to the USS Clark (DD-361) and finished the war on convoy duty.
Norkunas mother was a gold star mother for her son, Charles, who was killed in World War II.
After the war, Norkunas continued sailing on the Great Lakes, until he became the proprietor of the Drydock Tavern south of Superior on Highway 35, which he operated with his wife Shirley for the next 40 years.
In addition, he served as a boiler operator and engineer at several local hospitals, and finally retired as chief engineer from Alberta Gas and Chemical in Duluth in 1989.
Norkunas passed away on April 18, 2006, at the age of 81.
He was preceded in death by wife Shirley (Eastman), son Daniel, parents Charles and Ursula, brothers Charles, Alfred, Eugene and Wallace and grandson Robert Latvala. He is survived by sister Ann Mizinski, brother Theodore, stepchildren Linda (Tom) Johnson (Holmes), Michael (Jill) Holmes, James (Beth) Holmes, sons Edward, Thomas (Lucille), Christopher and daughter Elizabeth (John) Eastman. He left 21 grandchildren, 16 great grandchildren, two great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. He was greatly appreciated and will be sadly missed.
The Flags of Honor program honors one deceased World War II veteran every week. A flag in the veterans memory is lofted on a Friday by members of Post 435 and members of the Thomas F. Stein VFW Post 1091. It is lowered the following Friday. The ceremony takes place in front of the heritage center and is open to the public.
Were losing 1,800 World War II veterans a day nationwide, said Daniel Knight, post adjutant of American Legion Post 435. We need to honor these veterans and keep their memories alive.
There is no cost for the program. A biography and picture of the veteran to be honored are required, but there are flags available at the center that can be flown for a veteran if the family is unable to send one.
For more information on the Flags of Honor program or to set up a time for your loved ones flag to fly, call the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center at (715) 392-7151 or Knight at (218) 624-6231.
God Bless your Dad. May he rest in peace.
My uncle Danny....