Norman Wells was born in 1933 in Annapolis, Maryland. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on April 18, 1952, and entered the Aviation Cadet Program in September 1953. Wells was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Williams AFB, Arizona, on December 3, 1954. After completing F-86 Sabre Combat Crew Training at Nellis AFB, Nevada, Lt Wells served with the 45th Fighter Day Squadron at Sidi Slimane AB, Morocco, from September 1955 to December 1956. While at Sidi Slimane, he transitioned from the F-86 to the F-100 Super Sabre. He then flew with the 493rd Fighter Bomber Squadron at Chaumont AB, France, from December 1956 to March 1958. Wells transferred to the 309th Fighter Bomber Squadron at Turner AFB, Georgia, in March 1958, and then to the 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, in January 1959. His next assignment was with the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg AB, West Germany, where he served from May 1963 to March 1966, when he deployed to Southeast Asia. Capt Wells served with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from March 1966 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on August 29, 1966. He had also been shot down 8 days before, on August 21, but was rescued in the Gulf of Tonkin. Capt Wells was also credited with the destruction of an enemy MIG during a mission for which he would later be awarded the Air Force Cross on July 19, 1966. After spending 2,379 days in captivity, Col Wells was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Andrews AFB, Maryland, and retired from the Air Force on November 1, 1973.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Norman Louross Wells (0-3037386/13430498), Captain, U.S. Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving with the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, Takhli Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand, SEVENTH Air Force, in action near Phuc Yen, North Vietnam, on 19 July 1966. On that date, Captain Wells led a flight of F-105 Thunderchiefs against a heavily defended petroleum products storage area ten miles northwest of Hanoi. After penetrating a curtain of exploding steel to deliver his deadly ordnance on this vital target, Captain Wells then shot down one of two MiGs who were attacking the second element of the formation. After a much-needed aerial refueling, Captain Wells provided top cover for a successful rescue by helicopters of a friendly pilot who had ejected over hostile territory. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness, Captain Wells reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.