Rep. Mike Coffman honored John Norris, Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe’s father.
“A few months ago, I mentioned to Congressman Mike Coffman that my father, John Norris, had recently celebrated his 95th birthday and that I wanted to do something special for him that would honor and recognize his distinguished, 30-year military career. After that, Congressman Coffman began the process of working to fly a West Point flag at the Academy then give that to me to, in turn, present to my father Col. John Norris. I am extremely grateful to Congressman Mike Coffman for honoring my father in this very special way. Although my father’s health is failing, his attendance at the U.S. Military Academy was one of the most memorable and important times in his life,” said Sharpe
Norris, second to the youngest of seven children, grew up on a farm outside of Calhoun Falls, S.C. He graduated high school at age 16 and then headed to the University of South Carolina for college. While he was studying at the university, war broke out in Europe. With a brother already at West Point, Norris decided that service to his county and a career in the military would be his calling.
In 1939, after receiving a Congressional appointment, John Norris entered West Point. The Army, at that time, was small with only about 130,000 men. According to historians, this time was the beginning of many changes from the “old Army” to the new. What didn’t change, however, was their precept of Duty, Honor, country. Because the United States was heavily involved in the war, Norris’ West Point class graduated in January of 1943 rather than June.
“My father’s military career began when he served in World War II, 102nd Infantry Division. His division entered combat in Europe with the Ninth Army in October of 1944 and was on the Elbe River in Germany when the war ended. He also served in Korea (1962-63) where he commanded the 2/20th Rocket-Howitzer Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division and in Vietnam with the 54th Artillery Group, II Field Force (1967-68) during the Tet Offensive,” said Sharpe. “My father will say that any story about his life would not be complete without talking about his love, my mother, Irene. While he protected and supported our family for many years, she did the same. She raised my sister, brother and me on her own when he was deployed and moved our family more than 10 times adjusting to a new home herself and ensuring that we did the same. Today at 90, she is our father’s primary caregiver and is one of strongest people I know.
“I am extremely fortunate that my father, who always demonstrated to his family and those with whom he served, the traits of hard work, honesty, integrity and love for this county. Those values were instilled in him by his parents and cemented into his character by his experiences in the military. – Duty, Honor, Country.”
A Marine Corps combat veteran, Coffman serves on the House Armed Services Committee and House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. He is the only member of Congress to have served in both Iraq Wars.