Combat Controller inducted in Commando Hall of Honor

  • Published
  • By Rachel Arroyo
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
A former Air Force Special Operations Command combat controller and command chief was recognized for more than 45 years of service to the special operations community through induction into the Commando Hall of Honor May 15.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Norrad was inducted into the United States Special Operations Command Hall of Honor during the 2013 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference gala dinner in Tampa, Fla.

The Commando Hall of Honor recognizes the accomplishments of individuals who have distinguished themselves through unique and prestigious contributions to the special operations community.

Norrad is credited as one of the developmental pioneers of combat control and pararescue, responsible for helping shape the joint special operations team into what it is today.

He developed High Altitude High Opening parachute insertion procedures, worked to instill special duty assignment pay for combat controllers and pararescuemen, and secured the Valor device for Air Force Commendation and Achievement Medals so junior enlisted Airmen could be recognized for their actions in combat.

Norrad was on the ground in Panama in pursuit of Manuel Noriega during Operation Just Cause and was the senior special tactics noncommissioned officer during combat operations in Desert Shield and Storm. He was also the combat controller who opened Kuwait City International Airport under enemy fire before the close of the conflict.

When he found out he was being inducted into the Hall of Honor, Norrad said he was extremely humbled his name will be counted alongside those of men like Col. John Carney and Brig. Gen. Harry "Heinie" Aderholt.

"It's not just me getting this award," Norrad said. "It's everyone who has trained with me, been to war with me, touched me. They are part of your makeup, and so when I'm going into these awards it isn't really just me. It's my whole team going in."

Norrad, of Saco, Maine, has maintained that sense of leadership, quiet professionalism and commitment to the mission throughout his career.

He was only one of two Airmen on his team who had seen combat prior to jumping into Rio Hato, Panama during Operation Just Cause.

He recalls it as one of the most intimidating moments of his career because the team had received reports combatants knew special operations forces were on the way.

A chief in charge of his combat control team, Norrad said he had to be the calming voice for his teammates.

"Okay guys, we're one minute out," he said over the radio. "Good luck, be safe, and don't forget you still have to do your job. I'll see you on the ground."

Norrad, 66, is still doing his job since retiring from active duty service. He works as a program analyst and public affairs liaison at the 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field, Fla., and is active in the Combat Control Association and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

"Wayne is an icon in AFSOC and continues to serve as a leader both in the military as well as in the civilian community," said Col. Robert Armfield, Commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

Though his accolades include such prestigious honors as the National Defense Industrial Association DeProspero Lifetime Achievement Award and induction into the Air Commando Hall of Fame in 2004, Norrad does not cite these individual honors when asked to recount his proudest moments.

The first that comes to mind is when one of his Airmen was selected as one of the Air Force 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. Another is securing the Valor device for commendation medals.

He often reminds up-and-coming special tactics Airmen to let their actions do the talking while at home base and when working as a member of a joint team.

"Being humble in special tactics is a big asset because, if you're not, those team members you are trying to work with are not going to appreciate you..." he said. "We have to be humble to be effective, so we miss out on the limelight a lot with the media, and sometimes that is best for us. Being the quiet, humble professional goes a long way."

Another quiet professional and former AFSOC pararescuemen inducted into the Hall of Honor alongside Norrad is retired Master Sgt. Scott Fales.

Fales is also a recipient of SOCOM's highest honor, the Bull Simons Award, which is a lifetime achievement award recognizing the spirit, values and skills of the unconventional warrior.

In addition, Fales earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroic actions during a search and rescue mission in Mogadishu, Somalia in August 1993 when Black Hawk helicopter "Super 6-1" went down.

"From his time on the streets of Mogadishu in 1993 to merging combat development technologies in his current job, Mr. Fales epitomizes the can-do culture of AFSOC and represents the best of America," Armfield said.