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Honoring a hero — 70 years later

Seventy-one years after his plane was shot down over Germany in World War II and he was taken captive, Stewart native Norman Kottke was awarded his Prisoner of War medal.
It was presented to his widow, Adline Kottke, Monday afternoon following the Stewart Memorial Day service by representatives of the Armed Forces and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota.
Norman Kottke was a bombadier in the 398th Bomb Group, and was supposed to be on his last mission in late November 1944 — his 33rd in 13 months — when his plane was shot out of the sky while on a mission to take out an oil refinery.
Kottke put his emergency training into use, ejecting from his seat in the B-27 at 7,000 feet.
Even then, according to an article that was published many years ago in the Buffalo Lake News and cited by Klobuchar at Monday’s ceremony, Kottke’s sense of adventure took over.
Rather than pull his ripcord, he decided to experiment with free falling, extending his arms to guide a change in direction as he plummeted from the sky.
But, eventually, he came to earth, was captured by the Germans, and held in a prisoner of war camp for six months.
He returned home from the war, settled on his farm and was an involved member of the Stewart community.
“He was one of those heroes who showed sheer fortitude and never gave up,” Klobuchar said of Kottke.
She noted that Kottke’s war experiences didn’t deter him from enjoying flying after the war, as he was a member of the Flying Farmers.
“Not even being shot out of the sky or being a POW could keep Norman on the ground,” said Klobuchar.

For more from the ceremony, see the May 27 print edition of The Chronicle.