“I Hope Alaskans Remember What We Did”
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski today is releasing her 8th Veteran Spotlight installment featuring Father Norman Elliott, a U.S. Army veteran of World War II. Now nearly 94-years-old, Elliott recalls living in Michigan at age 22 when the war broke out and the calling he felt to defend his country - putting seminary school on hold to join the National Guard and then the U.S. Army in 1941. Nine months later, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor led the United States to join the Allies in WWII.
In his interview, Father Elliott shared his stories of the grit and resourcefulness of troops in 1941 – using 1917 Howitzers and training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, which he said was “built on gumbo mud.” He also shared his observation that America was not adequately prepared in those days, and that “the Japanese could have gone into any port along the [Pacific] coast and not been stopped.”
Father Norman Elliott, U.S. Army Veteran, WWII
(Click on image for excerpt of Father Elliott talking about a mission that took him deeper into Germany than any other Allied soldier. CLICK HERE for the extended interview)
“I remember good times, I remember bad times. I remember times where I barely escaped by the skin of my teeth,” said Father Norman Elliott. “You never forget. I remember, and there are things that I wish I had done, or didn’t do. I hope that as a whole, Alaskans remember what we did, because as a nation, we are losing our remembrance of WWII.”
Father Elliott served in the 89th Infantry Division, 341st Field Artillery Battalion, B Battery during WWII
Before Father Elliott’s unit was sent to Europe, they were chosen to serve in an experimental “light unit” modeled after the German Light Divisions. After a year of research and training in the swamps of Louisiana and the mountains of California, Elliott was shipped to Europe where he fought the German Army in France, Luxembourg, Germany and England. After the war concluded, Father Elliott returned to the United States and devoted his life to God and the Episcopal Church. In 1952, he was stationed in Alaska, where he would spend the next 50 years traveling and ministering for the Episcopal Church throughout the state. Father Elliott retired in 1990 but remains active in the community, and was recently appointed to Anchorage’s Military and Veterans Advisory Commission.
“Father Elliott has been a beloved priest and key leader in interreligious relationships throughout Alaska since he arrived in 1952,” said Senator Murkowski. “But what he did in WWII isn’t as widely known in our state. We owe it to veterans like Father Norman Elliott to honor their legacy through sharing their stories, and we owe it to ourselves to learn from the high levels of patriotism, commitment and service these heroes demonstrate for us.”
The “Veteran Spotlight” project is Senator Murkowski’s monthly focus to honor and draw well-deserved attention to an Alaska veteran of American conflicts worldwide. Today’s installment is the eighth in the series that began on Memorial Day weekend of 2012. Every month, Senator Murkowski posts a biography and an interview with an Alaskan who served our country abroad in conjunction with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project. You can watch them all by clicking here.
Senator Murkowski invites all Alaskans to nominate a veteran from the 49th state to be featured in the Veteran Spotlight project. If you have a family member or friend in the community you think has a story to share, email Spotlight@Murkowski.Senate.Gov.
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