Norman Northrop CunninghamMajor
AIR CAV TROOP, 11TH ARMORED CAVALRY, USARV
Army of the United States
24 October 1937 - 24 September 1968
Van Nuys, California
Panel 42W Line 004
The database page for Norman Northrop Cunningham
Norman Northrop Cunningham was a Forward Airborne Observer and was lost sometime in September 1968. His CASDATE is 19680924, a month before his 31st birthday. He was listed as Missing In Action until they discovered his plane nearly two years later and recovered his remains and those of his pilot.
I was a fellow member of the ROTC Unit at Van Nuys High School, Van Nuys, California. I enlisted in the US Navy after High School, Norman was accepted into the Corps of Cadets at the USMA West Point. The last time I saw Norman was in the summer of 1959. I was attending college after release to inactive duty, (Kiddy Cruiser), and Norman was on leave before reporting for duty after graduation. We had lunch, talked about our classmates at Van Nuys and said goodbye and good luck.
It was a shock to see the news that he was listed as an MIA and then the bittersweet knowledge that his remains had been found. Thirty-two years after the fact is late to be doing something like this and I apologize for that. I really didn't know that no one had made an entry for his memory and I thank you and your corps of volunteers for this opportunity.
There is a very moving memorial in the Capital grounds in Sacramento that lists the men and women lost in Vietnam by the county or residence. It doesn't say that this blonde and blue-eyed young man was funny, smart and a good comrade. I could strip an M-1 blindfolded faster than he, but he had the stripes, MR1 vs Major, Navy vs Army, a fleet sailor vs the college boy.
We had our own little bicycle club in school and rode all over the San Fernando Valley and into Hollywood for shows or Simi Valley to the movie backlots called Corriganville then.
One always wonders at the great loss to this country and the world when you see that list of people on the Wall. There was the unknown potential to do so much for themselves and others and we have only fading memories.
My deepest appreciation to you and all the people who make such memorials as these possible.
Norman and I served together in the 2d Battalion, 70th Armor, Augsburg, Germany 1963-65. He was a friend and a good trooper. Rest in Peace.
A Note from The Virtual WallTwo men were killed on 24 Sep 1968 when their O-1G "Bird Dog" (serial 51-4570) went down while on a FAC mission near Phu Giao, 15 miles north of Bien Hoa:
Oddly, the Air Force categorized Captain Cunningham's loss as due to hostile action, while the Army carries Major Cunningham's loss as an operational (non-hostile) loss. The Virtual Wall cannot offer any explanation for the difference in classification.
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 02 Aug 2000
Last updated 08/01/2006