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Tigers: Tracking a Legend
Col. Norman Appold was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 3, 1917 and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in chemical engineering. After completing his studies, he voluntarily joined the U.S. Army Air Corps immediately before Pearl Harbor.
He graduated from the Aviation Cadet Training Program in 1942, commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. After completing pilot training, he served as a B-24 pilot in the 376th Bomb Group Association, completing 63 missions.
Appold was involved in Operation Tidal Wave, code name of the historic low-level attack of oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on August 1, 1943. This was the first large-scale, low-level strike by heavy bombers against a well-defined target of World War II up to that time. B-24's of the 8th and 9th Air Forces undertook the 2,400 mile flight from Benghazi, Libya. Due to heavy defenses and the low altitude of the raid, casualties were high, with 53 of 178 B-24s lost, and 440 crew members killed and 220 captured or missing.
Appold, piloting G.I. Ginnie, leading four other aircraft through intense ground fire, bombed the Concordia Vega refinery and successfully returned to Libya. Appold received the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism that day.
After retiring from the Air Force in 1963, Appold joined the Lockheed Missiles and Space Company where he was instrumental in the development of the C-5 and C-141 aircraft. He retired from Lockheed as a Vice President in 1984. In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Appold was awarded the Silver Star, Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, an Air Force Commendation Medal, as well as numerous service awards. Appold was enshrined in the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame on April 19, 2008.