Col. Norman J. Eckert, Bronze Star
Edward (Ed), Col., U.S. Army,
William (Bill), Lt, Col., U.S. Army
Richard (Dick), Capt., USAR
My dad enlisted in WWI to follow his older brother Jack P. Eckert. He rose from private to sergeant and received a commission as a 2nd Lt. in 1920. He rose in rank as acting commander of the 25th Division artillery in WWII.
The Field Artillery Journal of 1944:
The 25th as part of the XIV Corps was then committed to operations to seize the remaining Japanese held islands in the Northern Solomons. From 3 July 1943 through 6 October 1943 the Tropic Lightning participated in the seizure of the islands of New Georgia, Vella LaVella, Sasavele and Kolombangara. Upon the conclusion of the Solomons campaign the 25th Division was sent to New Zealand for rest and training and then moved to New Caledonia on 8 February 1944 to prepare for the invasion of the Philippines. COL. NORMAN J. ECKERT Bronze Star, for conducting the fire of his unit in a sound and intelligent manner on New Georgia from 5 Aug to 3 Oct 43. As Acting 25th Division Artillery Commander of an infantry division, and in spite of serious obstacles and rugged and difficult terrain, he conducted his operations efficiently and skillfully. In all operations he displayed superior qualities of leadership and technical skill. Address: 3042 Newark St. St., NW, Washington D.C, (Source Bronze Star Award The Field Artillery Journal DECEMBER, 1944—Vol. 34, No. 12 page 865)
As his son Dick grew older and reflected back on the height of the Cold War with Russia in the ‘50s, he realized the USA deployed the toughest and most experienced combat veterans in command positions from WWII to confront Russia. His dad, an experienced combat artillery commander in WWII, was deputy post commander of one of the largest concentration of American troops preventing Russian forces from entering western Europe. At the time, several miles away in reserve were battlefield low-yield nuclear M65 artillery cannons that kept several thousand Russian tanks from attacking.
Dick’s dad had a spiritual side that he recognized as a teenager, when he observed him kneeling down to say night prayers before going to sleep each night – it left a lasting impression on him for the rest of his life. As a lieutenant in the ‘30s Dick’s dad played competitive equestrian horseback polo with the future Gen. Patton. Patton came from a wealthy family and never accepted military pay.