Ret. Army Sgt. Norman Lipscomb Talks Freedom & Pays Tribute To Vietnam Hero In Annual Lanett Program

Story by Gator Kincaid

Photo credit to Bee TV & Narfunda Ross 1033 Photography


LANETT- On Friday, Lanett Mayor Jamie Heard and Council held their annual Veterans Day ceremony from City Hall recognizing local veterans. Mayor Heard thanked the Veterans with opening remarks followed by the presentation of the flags by the Lanett High School JROTC, and Tonya Frank's rendition of the National Anthem and “America the Beautiful".


Ret. Army Sgt. Norman Lipscomb was the keynote speaker During the ceremony, Lipscomb, a 1972 graduate of West Point High School spoke on his time in the Army with the US Army Security Agency. as well as his career with Michigan State Police. Lipscomb served in the Criminal Investigation Division, and later, on government security detail.


“I’ve had an opportunity to rub shoulders and touch wings with at least four presidents,” said. Lipscomb. As impressive as his career was, Lipscomb wanted to speak on the life and heroic tales of his friend the late Robert “Thunder” Thornton. Thornton.


Thorton served in Vietnam as well as the Michigan State Police Department where he met Lipscomb when he worked as an undercover officer.


Now if you think my life was interesting? Let me tell you about Thunder", said Lipscomb


Thornton was a member of the 1st Force Reconnaissance Battalion Company. While serving multiple tours of duty in Vietnam he was awarded two Purple Hearts, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat at "V", the Vietnam, Cross of Gallantry with Palm, a Vietnam Service Medal with three Battle Stars, a Vietnamese Campaign Medal, a Combat Action Medal, A Presidential Unit Citation, A Navy Unit Citation, and A Good Conduct Medal. Upon his honorable discharge from active duty, his loyalty to the United States Marine Corps did not end. Robert signed on and continued his military career with the Marine Corps Active Reserves in Detroit, Michigan ultimately being assigned as the Rifle Platoon Leader and obtaining the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Once his military career ended "Thunder" joined his brothers in blue and served forty-plus years with the Michigan State Police where he earned two Bravery Awards, a Meritorious Service Award, the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police Distinguished Service Medal, a Son of the American Revolution Medal for Heroism, an Honorable Mention Award and a Unit Citation.


"Thunder passed away on Tuesday, May 24, 2016. He was 70 years old", said a tearful Lipscomb.


The Ret. Army Sgt., concluded his remarks by reminding us of the freedoms have, and that the reason we enjoy such freedoms is because of a veteran, a veteran like Robert “Thunder” Thornton.

Local Veterans were recognized including Veteran Gary Harris who performs “Taps,” for Lanett’s veteran’s program every year.


Councilwoman Tamalita Autry also presented a commemorative plaque to this year's keynote speaker Ret. Army Sgt. Norman Lipscomb and thanked him for his service.





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