On Sunday we found out that a guy we went to high school and played in the band with died in Iraq. He was a funny guy who will be missed by many…
His family and friends are in our thoughts. If you would like to add a thought or would like to reminisce about Byron, use the comments link below…
In an effort to avoid everyone having to sign up on the AAS website to view the article (I hate signing up to have to read stuff!), here is the article from the Austin-American Statesman…
By Steven Kreytak
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The phone calls and e-mails and instant messages from their son in Iraq stopped Nov. 5, as the military imposed a blackout before the U.S.-led offensive into the insurgent-ridden city of Fallujah.
Still, Janet and Bill Norwood slept with a baby monitor next to the computer in their Pflugerville home, the receiver next to their bed. They didn’t want to miss the knocking sound their instant messaging program made when their 25-year-old son Byron, a Marine sergeant, jumped online to write home.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning a knock came, but not from the computer. There were two Marines at their front door.
“Through the window I could see the brass buttons on the dress blues,” Janet Norwood said Monday. “I thought if I didn’t open the door it wouldn’t be true.”
Marine Sgt. Byron Wayne Norwood, a graduate of Pflugerville High School, died Saturday during combat in Iraq, the Defense Department announced Monday.
It was the news that Bill and Janet Norwood dreaded during their son’s first tour of duty in Iraq at the start of the war last year. It was the news they thought they had dodged when they met him with balloons at the Austin airport as he returned home after six months. It was the news they began to fear all over again when he returned to the fight in July.
“I always had the feeling that once we got him home safe and sound after the first time, that sending him again we were just kind of tempting fate,” Janet Norwood said.
She spoke as a stream of friends and co-workers came to the house to offer their condolences and food and drinks, each pausing at the dining room table to view an array of family photos showing Byron as a boy.
A UPS deliveryman knocked on the door with a box containing a Marine Corps flag that Janet Norwood had ordered. Bill Norwood had once told the deliveryman to announce “UPS” upon knocking, so as not to scare his wife, who had constantly feared news of her son’s death. Monday, Bill Norwood told the deliveryman, a Gulf War vet, that their son had died.
The circumstances of his death have not been disclosed. A Defense Department news release said only that it was “the result of enemy action in Al Anbar province.”
Al Anbar province is west of Baghdad and includes the city of Fallujah, where a major offensive against insurgents began more than a week ago. U.S. and Iraqi officials have declared that they now control most of the city, although pockets of resistance remain. At least 38 American soldiers have died in the offensive, The Associated Press reported.
Norwood was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Through patching together news reports, Bill Norwood believes that his son’s battalion entered Fallujah from the northwest last week, captured the train station and has been involved in house-to-house fighting for the past several days.
“He believed strongly in keeping the fight on terrorism over there,” Bill Norwood said. “He said, ‘We fight the battles over there so you don’t have to fight them at home.’ ”
Byron Norwood was determined to make the United States safer, to bring freedom to the Iraqi people and to make the world a better place, his family said.
And he made it clear that he wasn’t afraid to die.
“Byron understood the consequences,” said his older brother Grant Norwood, 26. “There was no unfinished business with the family. We all understood that he might not come back.”
In addition to his parents and brother, Norwood is survived by sisters Kristen Hullum, 28, and Grayson Norwood, 22; brother Colin Norwood, 20; and grandparents Jake W. Aston and Jeane Aston of Houston. Funeral arrangements have not been set. The family is unsure when Norwood’s body will be returned to the United States.
Byron Norwood was born in Austin and went to elementary schools in the Eanes school district. His family moved to Pflugerville in 1991, where he attended Westview Middle School. At Pflugerville High School, where a moment of silence was observed Monday, Norwood played trumpet in the jazz and marching bands and acted in dramatic productions, including “Fiddler on the Roof.”
But he always wanted to be a Marine.
Upon high school graduation in 1998, Norwood joined the Marine reserves. He took some classes at Austin Community College and worked as an assistant in the Marine recruiting office in Round Rock.
In 2001, he signed up for active duty. In January 2003, Norwood deployed to Iraq for the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein. His father said he was involved in 20 engagements during his first tour, including a dogged fight to clear the way for supply lines at Nasiriyah following the capture of U.S. troops by Iraqi forces in that city.
When he returned home, Norwood spent two weeks in Pflugerville. He wanted nothing more than to spend time with his family, eating fajitas and spaghetti and green bean casserole at home, his parents said.
He seemed more mature, his siblings said, but not so much so that he stopped doing his impressions of Jim Carrey in the movie “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” or of Carrey as Fire Marshal Bill in a skit on the television show “In Living Color,” said Hullum, his sister.
“He was a jokester, so fun,” she said. “It was hard to think of my baby brother as this big strong Marine.”
When Norwood returned to Camp Pendleton, he was put in charge of organizing training for the 160 Marines in his company as they prepared for redeployment to Iraq. For his part, Norwood took intensive Arabic language and culture classes to use while training the developing Iraqi army.
For his parents, the second deployment was even tougher than the first. He was one year away from completing his enlistment requirement and going to college. But Norwood was excited to return and “get the job done,” his mother said.
“I told him, ‘I just feel like I am sending you into the world and I am supposed to protect you,’ ” Janet Norwood said. “He said, ‘Mom, now it’s my job to protect you.’ ”