SD Vietnam War Memorial Dedication Please Support the Memorial Soldiers, Heroes, and teachers information



In Memory of U.S. Navy Commander

Norman Edward Eidsmoe

Rapid City, South Dakota, Pennington County

May 2, 1933 - January 26, 1968

Killed in Action in Vietnam

Norman Edward “Buzz” Eidsmoe was born on May 2, 1933, in Bismark, North Dakota, to Marcus and Anna Eidsmoe. He had one sister, Evelyn. According to Chuck Cecil in his book, Stubble Mulch, Buzz, from the age of 14 or so, spent his summers making stock dams with his dad for ranchers and farmers and often slept under or in their truck. His family wasn’t rich, but Buzz and his dad worked hard and made good money, and Buzz was generous with his money. “He was always willing to pay for the pool games and buy a cheeseburger and a Coke… We always told him we’d pay him back but he said didn’t care. There would always be more stock dams to build,” he’d say. Buzz went to high school at Rapid City High School where he played football until he was injured in his senior year. He owned an old Model T Ford coupe that “cruised just about every street in Rapid City.” After graduation in 1950, Buzz attended South Dakota State University in Brookings.

Buzz entered the Navy after college and became a pilot. Buzz had a wife, Betsy, and they had five children: Ken and Katherine (twins), Tom, Steven, and Robert Eidsmoe. Eidsmoe was attached to Attack Squadron 165 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ranger.

While piloting an A6A Intruder, U.S Navy Commander Norman Edward Eidsmoe went missing on January 26, 1968. Eidsmoe was on a mission with his navigator, Michael E. Dunn, “on a low-level, single-plane, night strike mission into North Vietnam.” Five miles from the target, “radar contact was lost due to low altitude and distance from tracking stations.” The support aircraft saw and heard nothing. After search and rescue attempts with no “significant findings,” Commander Eidsmoe and Lt. Commander Dunn were declared missing in action. Eidsmoe’s wife, Betsy, was at home with her five children, when she was notified by Navy officers whop came to her door in Whidbey Island. For over 30 years, the family lived with the uncertainty of what had happened to their son, husband, brother, and father.

In 1997 searchers were led to the site of the plane crash by a Vietnamese farmer who showed them “ a charred air crew bag with Dunn’s name on it and led them to an unmarked grave.” In 1998 Eidsmoe’s remains were recovered and after blood samples verified that the remains were his, his wife Betsy said, “For me, when they identified the aircraft wreckage back in 1997, I sort of felt that was it, but I didn’t expect them to get that far,” meaning that she didn’t expect that his remains would actually be repatriated. According to newspaper articles, finding his remains brought some relief and closure to the family. In April of 2000, Commander Norman Edward Eidsmoe was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors with his children and widow in attendance.

In his prepared remarks for his father’s burial at Arlington on April 9, 2000, Robert observed that both he and his father had filmed Hong Kong Harbor, Norman in 1957 and Robert in 1992. Robert remarked “that progress had built up the harbor but the view had not changed much between 1957 and 1992,” which he then compared to he and his father’s Naval service. “The people may change but the traditions stay. By choosing a career as a Naval Aviator I have lived a part of my father’s life.” Steven Eidsmoe also spoke at his father’s service and shared these memories about Buzz:

His thoughts were centered on his family; all his aspirations and hopes were for us… Dad was honest and fair and tried to teach us how important these things were. He believed that a man’s word was his bond and never willingly let anybody down. He had integrity and was a natural born leader….Buzz was many different things to many different people. He was a loving husband to Betsy, a wonderful dad to us, a respected officer, and an outstanding naval aviator….

Dad didn’t expect us to be first in the class; he didn’t expect us to win every game. All he ever wanted was for us to use our talents to the best of our abilities. That’s the least we can do for him who has done so much for us….

This entry was respectfully submitted by Matt Altmyer, 8th grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish South Dakota, on March 30, 2006. Information for this project was provided by and Stubble Mulch by Chuck Cecil. Additional information and profile approval was provided by the Eidsmoe family via Betsy.


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