John E Norvell is a graduate of Hobart College, Geneva NY with High Honors in American History (1966) B.A. He is a member of the Druid Society, the Senior Honor Society of Hobart College. He earned an M.A. from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1968.
He is a former Assistant Professor of American Social and Military History at the US Air Force Academy, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, and decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He is a Master Navigator and Weapons System Officer who flew six years in the F-4 Phantom II and then served as an Instructor Nav on the T-43 jet aircraft at the Air Force Academy and later Mather AFB. (Photo as a Captain in 1973.)
As a member of the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron stationed at U Dorn RTAFB in 1973, he flew on the last “unofficial” F-4 bombing mission of the Vietnam War to launch from that base.
Before his retirement, he served as the Executive Officer for the Historian of the United States Air Force in Washington, DC. (picture below as Lt Colonel about 1985)
After his retirement from the Air Force, he served as director of alumni relations at Hobart College from 1993-2002. He has also written for various newspapers including the Washington Post, and history journals around the county.
His new book Fighter ‘Gator (fighter navigator) was released to the public on Veterans’ Day 2021 and details how as a GIB he flew in combat and later in Alaska. It is available on Amazon and other sites on line.
He is a member of
The Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Virginia
The Company of Military Historians
The Air Force Navigator Observer Association
The F-4 Phantom II Society
The Red River Valley ” River Rats” Association
The Order of the Daedalians, Flight # 61st (George “Bud” Day).
He and his wife live in the Finger Lakes area of New York State.
Excellent article! Thank you!
Ground pounder, here.
F-111D, Cannon AFB, NM
F101B, F-4D, North Dakota Air National Guard
The Happy Hooligans
John, I read about your AF experiences with interest. I was trying to place your tour at Mather as T43 instructor. I was a former Sqdn cc and DO at Mather circa 1972 – 1976, 1977- 1980. As far as I know, a rarity, navigator DO. Pilots weren’t wild about it. Curious re the T43 Nav trainIng at USAFA. I know the 73s got misused and eventually at Randolph. Now rest with AMARC in Tucson. Sad at best.
I was at Mather from 82-25 in the 451st, later head of Int Nav training. Flew the T-43 at US Air Force Academy as an IN and then at Mather.