Norton Diamond, Corporal, Tech-5
From scuba diving to sewing back a finger, World War II veteran, Norton Diamond never shied away from helping others while maintaining his “joie de vivre”.
Tech Corporal Norton Diamond served in the 1897th Aviation Engineering Battalion in the Pacific theatre from 1943-1946. Diamond’s service brought him to the New Guinea, the Island of Leyte, Palawan Island, Okinawa, and Osaka. While the 1897th were responsible for creating airfields, Diamond, a medic, provided medical care for countless numbers of U.S. service men.
Raised on the West Side of Chicago Norton Diamond is the eldest of five children. Norton recalled having a pleasant childhood. His father worked in the tailoring business, which allowed Diamond to receive an allowance of a whopping twenty-five cents. During Diamond’s childhood, he enjoyed photography and the magazine “Popular Mechanics”. While attending Herzl Junior College, Diamond was called to duty in March of 1943.
Once Diamond’s service began he was sent to the embarkation point, Fort Sheridan. From there Norton was sent to Camp Kearns in Utah for his basic training. As divisions were being built for the service, Norton and others volunteered to become a medic for the1897th Engineering Battalion. Norton left Camp Kearns for Fort Benjamin Harrison, in Indiana, to receive medic training. Once his training was complete, Diamond and thirteen other medics went to Westover Field Massachusetts for the 1897th’s organization process. Then disembarked from California to New Guinea.
Diamond inoculated thousands of soldiers from life threatening diseases, cured ringworm, and was the first responder to any soldier in this battalion. Diamond witnessed the Battle of Leyte Gulf when Japan tried to retake it as well as a kamikaze attack. Diamond also spoke of his experiences with the Australian Army and with Filipino, and Japanese civilians. With all the dangers of war, though out his service, Diamond did his best to serve his men and his country.
Diamond and the 1897th were sent to Osaka, Japan, as an occupation force. Diamond served until he was discharged in 1946. With the use of the GI Bill of Rights, Diamond continued his medical training by attending optometry school at the Illinois College of Optometry, which was formally known as Monroe College of Optometry. That same year Diamond met his wife Eileen and they have been married for seventy-one years. Diamond credits his time in the service for giving him the discipline and drive for his personal life.