Norton, Austin J.


Norton, Austin J.
Austin J. Norton
William Vollano
Austin Norton was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan on June 15, 1924. His family was in the florist business, in which he admits he had no interest. After completing high school, he enrolled in Michigan Normal, later becoming Eastern Michigan University. While at EMU, he took courses that covered weather predicting. When he was drafted, they placed him in the Navy. After extensive training in weather forecasting, he was assigned to an aircraft carrier, the USS Bunker Hill. His job was to forecast weather for the flights. The Bunker Hill was the Flag Ship for the Admiral. On May 11, 1945, at sea near Okinawa, his ship came under attack. Sensing the critical moments of WWII, the Japanese began using their planes and pilots for Kamikaze attacks. Nobody saw the planes coming. Two huge explosions rocked the ship. The first plane hit the flight deck. The second hit the super structure close to where Austin was working as weather engineer. There were explosions all over the ship. Austin was trapped inside a burning area. He was able to free himself eventually and then helped the crew fight the fires. The carrier burned for 24 hours. The ship was eventually returned to Hawaii. Austin was discharged in March, 1946. He returned to Michigan and enrolled at Michigan State University, where he met his wife, Dorothy. He majored in Horticulture. He eventually went into the family florist business. Austin still feels honored by being invited to participate in a special recognition for the crewmen of the USS Bunker Hill. He was the only member of the original crew that was physically able to travel. He currently lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan, with his wife Dorothy.
Date Span
Dates of Service
Enlisted; United States Navy; USS Bunker Hill (CV 17); World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - Pacific Theater
Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Collection Location
Spatial Coverage
Second World War - Pacific Theater
Item sets