Major General Norma E. Brown was the Commander of Chanute Technical Training Center during my last tour of duty at the base. As I remember she was quite the character, very personable, yet firm, but fair. If she said you're going, you went. If she wanted something done, it was done. She sponsored base parties, etc. I personally recall a person that sent her an invitation to an off-duty, off-base christmas party. In typical Norma Brown behavior, she showed up in her staff car, ready to party. Her passing is a loss to the world. She was indeed a great leader of men and women.
I found some words about her life and death at various websites and have combined them onto one page. See below:
Tribute to Norma Elaine Brown
Feb. 11, 1926 - July 22, 2003
by Mary Turner
Norma Brown was many things to many people: she was Brownie to this community, Elaine to her family members, Norma to her military associates, and General to a vast number of airmen and officers. She was proud to be a sharecropper’s daughter, and to have grown up in a loving family. She loved her children and grandchildren, her parents, her sisters, her cousins, and nieces and nephews. She gave fully of herself to all of them. One of her cousins once remarked that all the cousins were close, but that probably each of them was closer to Elaine than to any other. It was the same in this community where many called her best friend.
She loved Florida State University and participated in many of the alumni events. She was particularly proud to have been a 4F member, meaning that she lettered in all four women’s sports
She loved the Air Force. You could say that the Air Force suited her, and she suited the Air Force. From the very beginning to the end she excelled, and she had a great time doing it.
She had many good memories: as a young lieutenant she was chosen to escort Cardinal Spellman to all the northern tier Air Force units for Christmas services; As a captain she led her squadron of women through the snow in parade down Pennsylvania avenue for the inauguration of President John Kennedy; while on exchange duty in England she was invited to the Queen’s birthday reception and ended up in the garden drinking beer and telling jokes with Prince Phillip. During her 32 years in the Air Force, she got to fly in almost every aircraft in the inventory. She loved flying in jets and she loved adventure. When invited by the Navy to visit, she flew in a COD aircraft and landed on a carrier underway in the Atlantic. She loved it all.
She liked doing things that were adventurous and different. She drove a big tractor in a tractor pull in Illinois. She drove an M-1 tank in an Army exercise. (she drove it into the ditch.) She drove a big fire truck and tried to master the art of handling the hoses at the fire school at Chanute. She tried everything. Enjoyed everything.
But if you asked her what she had enjoyed most in life she would have said “the people, and especially the young people.” She loved talking with a group of young airmen just starting out in the military; Or a group of young women considering the military; Or a group of junior officers seeking advice about their careers; Or a group of NCO Academy graduates; and on and on. She loved people more than anything.
In the last few years Norma suffered a lot of illness but she bore up under it all. She lost some of her spunk, but she was still adventurous. At the time of her death we were off on a month long tour of the west, looking for cowboys, having fun, living it up, and she exaggerating everything she saw. She never stopped loving life. And she never stopped loving people, the Air Force, Florida State, her family and friends, and the Lord.
Madison County’s Own, Major Gen. Norma Brown, Dies
Major General Norma E. Brown, 77, who retired from the United States Air Force, died Tuesday, July 22, 2003, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, following a pulmonary embolism.
Brown, a graduate of Lee High School, served as the second grand marshal for Lee's annual Homecoming Day in 1989.
Brown was a native of Madison County, but had adopted San Antonio, Texas as her home. She had lived in the Leon Springs, Texas, community since her retirement from the Air Force in 1982.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1949, Brown taught physical education at middle school and high school levels for two years in Lake City.
She entered the Air Force in December 1951 when a force build-up was in effect for the Korean War. At that time, she was one of approximately 13,000 women in the Air Force. In the following years, she served as personnel officer and WAF Squadron Commander at bases in Washington, D.C., San Antonio, England, Taiwan and Newfoundland.
In 1972, after being promoted to colonel, she became commander of the 6970th Air Base Group at Fort Meaade, Maryland, and in 1974, she became the first female wing commander when she assumed command of the 6940th Security Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas. In 1977, she was promoted to brigadier general and assigned as deputy chief of staff for personnel and manpower, Air Force Logistics Command at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio. Two years later, after promotion to major general, she assumed command of Chanute Technical Training Center in Rantoul, Illinois. She retired in August 1982 after 32 years of service.
Brown's military decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Meritorious Service Medal. In 1982, she received the Order of the Sword from the enlisted members of the Air Training Command in recognition of her dedicated support of the enlisted force. In 1993, the USAF Security Service Alumni Association elected her to its Hall of Honor. She was selected a member of the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame in 1986 and was named an FSU "Grad Done Good" in 1980. She holds an honorary degree in philosophy from MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois.
After retirement from the Air Force, she served on the board of directors for GEICO until 1994.
Survivors include a daughter, Denise Crewe Ramos (and husband Stefen), of San Antonio, Texas; a grandson, Zachary Ramos of San Antonio, Texas; and a sister, Louise Smith, of Jacksonville.
She was preceded in death by a son, Timothy Crewe; two grandchildren, Samantha Ramos and Micaela Ramos; her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Brown; and two sisters.
Services were held at 11 a.m. CDT at Leon Springs (Texas) Presbyterian Church.
MAJOR GENERAL NORMA E. BROWN
Retired Aug. 1, 1982
Major General Norma E. Brown is commander of the Chanute Technical Training Center, Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., the oldest major technical training center in Air Training Command.
General Brown is a native of Madison, Fla., and was born in 1926. She graduated from Madison High School in 1944. After graduation from Florida State University in 1949 she taught senior high school physical education for two years before entering the Air Force through the officer candidate school program. She was commissioned a second lieutenant in December 1951.
Her first military assignment was with Headquarters Flight Service, Washington, D.C., where she was chief of military personnel from December 1951 until June 1954. General Brown then became chief of the Personal Affairs Division, Headquarters Northeast Air Command, St. Johns, Newfoundland. At the end of her two-year tour of duty, she transferred to the Dependents Assistance Program in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
In December 1957 General Brown assumed command of the Women in the Air Force Squadron Section at Headquarters 1001st Air Base Wing, Andrews Air Force Base, Md. She remained in that position until December 1961 when she was selected for an exchange tour with the Royal Air Force as a personnel staff officer with the Royal Air Force Technical Training Command headquarters, Brampton, England.
In January 1964 General Brown began a 13-year series of tours with the U.S. Air Force Security Service. Her first assignment was at the headquarters at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as chief, Personnel Services Division, in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel. In July 1965 she was reassigned within the deputate as chief, Career Development Division. During that assignment General Brown attended the professional personnel management course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
From August 1967 to October 1968, General Brown was chief of the Personnel Division at the 6987th Security Group, Shu Lin Kau Air Station, Taiwan. She returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force Security Service at Kelly Air Force Base in November 1968 as director of personnel programs and in August 1969 was named director of personnel Plans. In September 1970 General Brown become chief of the newly organized Consolidated Base Personnel Office for all units in the European Security Region. This regional arrangement was a first in the Security Service.
In August 1972 she was selected to command the 6970th Air Base Group, Fort George G. Meade, Md. In December 1974 General Brown become the first woman to command an Air Force wing when she assumed command of the 6940th Security Wing, Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas.
General Brown became deputy chief of staff, personnel (later manpower and personnel), for the Air Force Logistics Command in July 1977. She assumed her current command in April 1979.
Her military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters and Army Commendation Medal.
General Brown was promoted to major general Oct. 1, 1979, with date of rank Dec. 1, 1975.
(Current as of February 1980)
GENERAL NORMA ELAINE BROWN
Major General Norma E. Brown, a native of Madison, Florida , attended Madison High School where she was active in sports. She entered Florida State in 1945 on a state scholarship, where she majored in Physical Education, worked as a swimming instructor and lifeguard, and was a member of the F-Club. She graduated in 1949 and taught at Lake City High School until she entered the Air Force in 1951, just prior to the Korean War.
During the next 20 years, Norma served her country with distinction around the world. In 1972 , she became commander of an Air Base Group, and in 1974, became the first ever woman wing commander . In 1977 Norma was the first woman promoted to brigadier general, and in 1979 she attained the rank of major general and assumed command of the Chanute Technical Training Center, where she commanded 15,000 men and women. After General Brown retired from the Air Force in 1982, she served on the Board of Directors of GEICO until 1994. Her military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Order of the Sword.
She has also received many non-military honors including an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy from MacMurray College, a "Grad Made Good" at Florida State, and was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame. She is now fully retired and makes her home in San Antonio, Texas. Her adopted daughter and two young grandchildren also live in San Antonio.