Aviation Electrician Petty Officer
2nd Class Norman Elvig
Service Branch: United States Navy
Combat Action: Korea
Home Town: Omaha
Military Specialty: Attack Aircraft Electrical Maintenance & Repair
Unit: Navy Fighter Squadron VF-191, USS Oriskany CVA-34,
U.S. Seventh Fleet
Decorations, Citations, and Awards: - National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, China Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal
VF-191, VF-192, VF-193, and VA-195 comprised USS Oriskany’s Carrier Air Group 19 or CAG-19 throughout its Korean War cruises in the Sea of Japan. VF-191 flew F-6f Cougars, VF-192 flew F-9f Panthers, VF-193 flew F-2h Banshees, and VA-195 flew AD-4l Skyraiders. AE2 Norm Elvig was rated on Cougars and Panthers, but assigned to VF-191, he maintained and repaired Cougar electronic components and electrical assemblies, almost exclusively.
During flight operations, Norm worked either on the Hangar Deck or the Flight Deck, depending on the rotation. The previous generation of aircraft carriers from World War II consisted of little more than floating runways. The new Ticonderoga Class was designed to launch and recover jet aircraft. The flight deck had a lot more moving parts and, consequently, more hazards. Steam catapults rocketed planes off the deck in less than 700 feet, accelerating them from 0 to 180 knots in three seconds. Self-retracting arresting cables snaked across the deck as recovering planes landed. When the duty rotation assigned Norm to the flight deck to check aircraft systems prior to launch or after recovery, his safety depended on his being hyper-aware of everything happening around him.
On such an occasion, one of VF-193's Banshees was on short final to land. Oriskany was headed into the wind to facilitate flight operations, but she was in heavy seas. As the plane neared the fantail, the bow dipped, sharply raising the stern. The Banshee undershot the landing, crashed into the stern, and careened down the deck in a ball of fire. Fortunately, the fireball hit the jet barrier, saving Norm and the other deck hands from being engulfed by burning debris. Miraculously, the pilot was rescued and sustained only minor injuries. He flew a mission the next day.
In 2006, the USS Oriskany was intentionally sunk off the coast of Florida to create a sea wildlife habitat. The first U.S. naval vessel to be laid to rest for that purpose, it has been appropriately renamed the Great Carrier Reef.
Under 270 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, the habitat is accessible only by submarine or with deep water gear. Norm has no plans to visit.