Flag Flies for Norman Friedman

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In its ongoing mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local veteran every month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to World War II veteran Norman Friedman by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of December.

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Friedman for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen.

The American flag was raised during a ceremony at Hampton Bays Elementary School on Dec. 11, where high school honors band members performed and middle school students Ava Aube and Diego Vivar read their VFW Patriot’s Pen Contest essays.

Born in New York City in 1925, Mr. Friedman spent most of his youth in Jackson Heights and Astoria, Queens, graduating from Townsend Harris High School in 1941.  Upon graduation, he enrolled at the City College of New York, but was soon drafted into the Army.

In 1942, Mr. Friedman was accepted into the Army Specialized Training Program, or ASTP. He began basic training in Texas before being transferred to Johns Hopkins University in Maryland for further training. Shortly thereafter, the ASTP initiative was cancelled and Mr. Friedman was reassigned as an infantryman in the 84th Infantry Division, stationed in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Soon after arriving in Louisiana, Mr. Friedman was sent overseas to England and then to Normandy. His “baptism of fire” was set to begin as he and his fellow soldiers took part in the battle to liberate Paris. After intense combat, Paris was liberated on Aug. 25, 1944. Mr. Friedman and the 84th Division battled their way across France and into Germany, where Mr. Friedman again found himself in the thick of battle in the infamous Battle of the Bulge.

On Nov. 29, 1944, Mr. Friedman was awarded the Army’s Silver Star for gallantry in action for saving the lives of many of his fellow soldiers.  

With temperatures well below freezing for weeks at a time and soldiers living in fox holes, Mr. Friedman contracted “trench foot,” a condition in which a person’s feet freeze and, without immediate treatment, become gangrene.

Mr. Friedman was evacuated from Belgium and sent to England before being transferred back to the United States for care. He spent six months in the hospital before receiving an honorable medical discharge.

Upon being discharged, Mr. Friedman returned to civilian life in Queens. He held jobs as a real estate and insurance agent for several years. It was during that time that he met his wife, Lucille. The pair married in 1946 and have one son and two granddaughters.

In 1968, Mr. Friedman decided to change professions and went back to school to learn computer programming. He worked as a computer programmer, system designer and computer manager for various companies before retiring in 1994.

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Friedman and his family began visiting Hampton Bays for their summer vacations. They loved the area so much that in 1969, they bought a small summer condominium in the area. Soon after, they purchased a small second home, and in 1994, they moved to Hampton Bays permanently.

Since Lucille passed away, Mr. Friedman spends his days fulfilling a myriad of interests, such as staying fit by exercising in the cardiac fitness program at Southampton Hospital three times a week.