LOUISBURG, N.C. (WNCN) — Retired Air Force Brigadier General Norman C. Gaddis celebrated his 100th birthday in Louisburg on Saturday.
Nearly 200 friends, family, dignitaries as well as current and former military members gathered at the Triangle North Executive Airport in Franklin County to celebrate the former Vietnam Prisoner of War.
General Gaddis received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine during the celebration, in addition to well wishes from Gov. Roy Cooper, both U.S. Senators from North Carolina and President Joe Biden.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine award is for persons who have made significant contributions to the state and their communities through their exemplary service and exceptional accomplishments.
Joining General Gaddis to celebrate a century were fellow former Vietnam Prisoners of War Norm McDaniel, Joe Milligan, Tom McNish and Ted Sienicki.
Norman Gaddis was born in 1923 in Dandridge, Tennessee and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1942. He entered the Aviation Cadet Program in July 1943, receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1944.
In November 1966, General Gaddis began flying combat missions in Vietnam. He was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 73rd combat mission on May 12, 1967. He spent more than six years as a Prisoner of War of the North Vietnamese and was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973.
General Gaddis retired from the Air Force in 1976 with more than 4,300 flying hours. He flew aircraft including the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang, F-80 Shooting Star, F-84 Thunderjet, F-86 Sabre, F-100 Super Sabre, F-4 Phantom II, T-33, T-34 Mentor, and T-38 Talon.
Happy Birthday, General Gaddis, thank you for your service!