Norman William Soltow

Staff Sergeant
Army of the United States
24 November 1937 - 17 November 1965
Chicago, Illinois
Panel 03E Line 095

Combat Infantry

Purple Heart, Army Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign
Norman W Soltow

The database page for Norman William Soltow

22 Sep 2003

My name is Jessica Brannon and my grandfather was SSGT Norman W Soltow. He died when my mom was 4 and we only have maybe 2 or 3 pictures of him. I would just like to hear from someone who knew him or had any memories of him.


10 Jan 2006

The Meaning of Sacrifice
By Jessica Brannon

In Memory of SSGT Norman W Soltow

Giving one's life for his country. It's something we hear about every day, but have you ever stopped to think of what that sacrifice really means to the soldier who does the sacrificing? It's more than that brief moment on the battlefield when life slips away. It's not giving your death, although that is a part of it. It is literally giving your life. The life that you will no longer have the chance to live.

When my grandfather died in the valley on November 17th, 1965 there were many things he gave up. He gave up his chance to see his little girl go off to school on the first day of kindergarten, to see her marry, to see his grandchildren born, and to grow old and enjoy the life he had worked to build. What would be worth the sacrifice of all these things? I can sum it up in one word - freedom. When you are sacrificing for freedom you are no longer giving these things away. You are trading them for something that you believe is worth it. The chance for that little girl to grow up and live in a free society, not threatened by communism, terrorism or anyone else who would challenge the rights and freedoms that men and women all throughout the history of this country have fought and died to defend.

As always, the things with the most value come with the highest price tag. A price that takes great courage to pay. But those men believed that it was worth it, and I believe it is worth our sincere gratitude.

From his grandaughter,
Jessica Brannon
24 Sep 2003

You may know Norman Soltow as your friend, but to me he was daddy. The time we had together was brief, only 4 years. The memories few, like pieces of a dream. Sitting in the comfort of his lap watching Walter Cronkite, drinking root beer with him from a frosted mug at a fast food drive in, and getting choked after accepting a puff off his pipe. There is not a day that passes that I do not miss him.

From his daughter,
Lisa Brannon

23 Jan 2006

Dear Daddy,

I miss you every day. I haven't seen you since I was 4 years old and you were 28. When you were killed we moved from Chicago to Kentucky to live with Mamaw. I remember waking up at night and crying for you. Mom put all of your things in the attic. It was really just a little closet at the end of a long room. You had to bend over to get in there. Sometimes I would sneak in there and shut the door and look at your Purple Heart and other things, wishing that you were there.

Since I was so young when you were killed I don't have a lot of memories of you. The ones I have, I rehearse over and over in my mind and heart so that I don't lose them. I remember living at Fort Dix in New Jersey and at Fort Benning here in Georgia before you were shipped out. I remember you taking me to the drive-in and us sitting there drinking root beer in frosted mugs. I loved those! I remember sitting on your lap in our small apartment watching Walter Cronkite with you. You would be smoking your pipe, once you asked me if I wanted to smoke it too. It was gross! I still love that smell though. It always reminds me of you. I remember you polishing your boots.

After you died Mom hardly ever talked about you. The older I got the more questions I had about you. She never really wanted to talk so I kept them to myself. When I turned 21 I received the insurance money you had left to me. It made me miss you more. I tried and tried to find your brother and sister. Finally in 1993 I found them! Uncle Carl has told me all kinds of stuff that the two of you got into in Chicago. I thought the one about y'all breaking into the Army/Navy Store was especially funny!!! Shame on you!!! =) He said that you always wanted to be in the military as long as he could remember.

Then in 2003 I was able to find some of the men that you were in Vietnam with. George Forrest, your CO, Fred Owens, Sabas Amaya and Paul Welch. Paul was in Korea with you too. I think Paul knows you best, but the horrors of war have kept him from sharing with me. Maybe someday he will be able to tell me about you. Fred told me a story of how you wrote a letter to Mayor Daly in Chicago and asked him to send you guys an ice machine and in no time a big crate arrived with what else, but an ice machine!

They made a movie about the battle you were in. It is called "We Were Soldiers". I have tried to watch it, but I just can't make it through. I hope you understand. All the guys who made it through the battle there at X-Ray and Albany and the the families of those who didn't, have a huge banquet and reunion in DC every year on Veterans' Day. It's awesome. Gen Hal Moore speaks. Everyone just loves him. All the guys act like it is so wonderful that I come. They act like I am the special one. THEY are the special ones. They all tell me that if I ever need anything - day or night - to call them and they will be there. That's the Brotherhood for you! I feel honored to be in their company.

I have been married now for almost 26 years to a wonderful man. From what Mamaw and Fred have told me about you, I must have married someone like my Dad! He is a kind, quiet, easy-going man. You have two beautiful granddaughters! Jess is almost 25 and Ash is almost 23. They are both very proud to be Americans and proud of you and every man and woman who has defended the cause of freedom around this world. We have the picture that I left here today, in our living room. You were so handsome. There is not a day that passes that I don't think about you. I miss you more every passing day. I am very proud of you and the life you chose, I just wish that it hadn't ended so soon.

I love you with all my heart!

From his daughter,
Lisa Soltow Brannon
McDonough, Georgia
27 Sep 2003

Norman was with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th US Cavalry, Airmobile. He was one of 17 men killed within the A/1/5 as they were walking to Landing Zone Albany from Landing Zone Xray. He served in the same company as my Uncle, Sgt. Ronnie T. Mathis. Recently, I have become good friends with the surviving family of Norman W. Soltow. I am blessed to know them and they are a comfort to me as I hope I am to them. If anyone knew this soldier and can share information with his surviving family please, please contact them.

5079 Rennes Drive Marrero, Louisiana 70072

01 Oct 2003

Norman was one of those guys that you don't forget even though I only got to know him for a very short time before we departed for Vietnam. Norman was a gentle man who spoke very softly but could be very forceful when the time came. Going over on the USS ROSE and climbing down the net for our shore landing was great, but that eventually turned serious as we engaged in our daily patrols. He had no fear as we departed for Albany for we all thought "What are we doing walking through this tall grass?" then hell broke loose and for the next fourteen hours we all fought for each other. Norman died a hero, the Third Platoon bore the brunt of the assault on Alpha Company and lost most of their NCOs. I shall share some other moments with you in DC. Hold your head high because you had a very proud father. We share your pain every day because we will never forget those "brothers" who made the supreme sacrifice for our freedom. "Black Knights to the rescue"

Freddie J. Owens
Company A 1/5 Cavalry
LZ X-Ray/Albany

Staff Sergeant Norman W. Soltow
died in the fighting in the
Ia Drang Valley
November 1965.

Visit the
Landing Zone X-Ray site

and The Virtual Wall's
Ia Drang Memorial

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 08/10/2009