By the early 1970s, the U.S. was winding down its involvement in Vietnam. Nevertheless, there were still troops putting their lives on the line. And for Navy SEAL Thomas Norris, his heroism and refusal to abandon downed pilots would result in his being awarded the Medal of Honor. His incredible story was later made into the blockbuster film BAT-21, starring Gene Hackman. 

Lt. Thomas Norris was an extraordinarily brave and quick-thinking SEAL. He was assigned to MACV-SOG Danang Naval Advisory Detachment and conducted several operations over April 9-13, 1972 to rescue downed Air Force pilots. 

Thomas Norris was born in Jacksonville, Florida but grew up in Wisconsin and Washington DC. After graduating high school, he attended the University of Maryland. He graduated in 1967 with a degree in sociology with a specialty in criminology. He was also an ACC Wrestling Champion in 1965 and 1966.

Thomas Norris initially hoped to join the FBI. But when his draft deferment ran out he joined the Navy. He volunteered for Navy SEAL training and graduated BUD/S Class 45. He joined SEAL Team Two and on his first tour of duty in Vietnam was awarded a Bronze Star with a “V” for valor device.