Before July 4th, we celebrate Flag Day on June 14. It’s a day to honor the American Flag. It’s also the birthday of a 94-year-old Milton native,Norris Gwin, 94.
“I’m looking for 95 now. I figured I had a good year I would get another one.
Gwin talks about the lessons in the fight for life, liberty and happiness.
He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Florida.
“I picked strawberries for $5 a quart when I was 12 or 13 years old,” he said. Norris said when he was a young man when he enlisted in the service. “I was 17 when I left high school and joined the Marines,” Gwin added.
Norris’ military journey landed him in many places. Gwin’s tour of duty included Saipan, Guam, Pearl Harbor, Midway, just to name a few.
“We ended up in a little place called Majuro Atoll. It had an airstrip. It had a few Japanese left on it and we had taken charge of that.”
He says after eliminating 98% of the enemies in the Marshall Islands, his squadron received the Presidential U.S. citation, which is awarded to units of the uniformed services for extraordinary heroism in action. “When you’re that young, all you can think of is that we’re going to fight. We’re going to win and then we’ll go home,” he said.
Norris recalls advice from a drill instructor. “Save your life. It’s kill or be killed. That’s all there is too it.” A tough lesson for a young man but a necessary one when in war.
“You toss your emotions out the window. You just can’t afford to let down in combat,” Gwin said.
In terms of a career, Norris had an unusual one. He spent 60 years at the race tracks as a racing official, racing secretary, director of racing, racing steward; he’s done it all.
In fact, he played a part in opening numerous race tracks including he says Evangeline Downs. “I helped open racing in Texas.”
After 94 years of a full life, Gwin says living a clean life likely contributed to his longevity. “Take care of yourself and someone around you. Just keep moving and don’t ever take no for an answer.”