Bert Lorentz

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Bert Lorentz
May 29, 2006

Norbert A. "Bert" Lorentz died May 25, 2006 of heart fairure at Eastside Medical Center near Atlanta, GA. He retired from OIG-Investigations in 1986 where he served in headquarters.

The following is his obituary from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

  • Norbert A. Lorentz Jr.

    News Obituary Article

    Norbert Lorentz Jr., carried on family military tradition in U.S.


    Norbert A. Lorentz Jr.'s family has a proud military tradition dating to the German kaiser's army which he brought to the United States military.

    Mr. Lorentz, 86, of Loganville was a U.S. Army Air Forces navigator who was taken prisoner by the German army in World War II and earned the Purple Heart.

    He was born in New Jersey after his father, who had served in the German army, immigrated. He was studying chemistry at Columbia University in New York when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

    "He went to Times Square on Dec. 7 and was one of the crowd that lined up to sign up," said his wife, Mary Lorentz. He was stationed in England and tried to get his 25 missions in before June 1944 so he could return to the states and marry, said his son, Bill Lorentz of Jacksonville.

    On his sixth mission, he was shot down over Cognac, France, was rescued by the French Resistance, later captured by the Germans, then spent 14 months in Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany, he said.

    The funeral Mass for Norbert Alfonz Lorentz Jr., who died of heart failure at Eastside Medical Center Thursday, is 11 a.m. today at St. Oliver Plunkett Catholic Church. Tom M. Wages, Snellville Chapel, is in charge of arrangements.

    Mr. Lorentz was trained as a B-24 bomber but volunteered for B-17 missions. "Their intelligence officer assured them this would be a milk run," his son said. Only four of the 11 crew members survived.

    "One hook did not take on his parachute," his wife said. "He's going down on one hook, just hanging. His boots had come off and his face was black from burns."

    Nearby, members of the French Resistance were preparing a bonfire for New Year's Eve and watched him descend. They rescued him and placed him near the fire to warm up before he went into shock, she said.

    "The French Resistance knew he required medical treatment," his son said. "They moved him in a clandestine fashion to a country doctor's house where he was treated. There were a number of people in the house. Word had gotten out about the wounded American flier.

    "As he moved to the back of the house, he noticed all the women would look him in the eyes and start crying. When he walked by a mirror, he realized he had been disfigured."

    His rescuers tried to get Mr. Lorentz to the safety of an underground network. As the wounded flier crept under the cover of hedges, to his amazement he saw a dazed crew mate walking down the country road, his son said.

    Mr. Lorentz jumped up to call out to his crew mate, who he did not realize was being escorted by two German soldiers, and was captured, his son said. In the prison camp, Mr. Lorentz was treated by a German doctor whom he credits for keeping him from being permanently disfigured, he said.

    While he was a POW, Mr. Lorentz documented his entire ordeal in a hardback, blank-page book provided by the Red Cross, his son said.

    He was liberated when the war ended, returned to the states and married, a year late, in June 1945. His wife, Lucia F. Lorentz, died in 1990. He married Mary Lorentz in 1991.

    Wherever he was assigned, he grew roses and a vegetable garden, worked with wood and built radios, television sets and stereos from kits.

    He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1965 after being trained in criminal investigations and counterintelligence, his son said. He had a second career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture investigating fraud, graft and corruption. He retired again in 1986 and moved to the metro area in 2001.

    Sixty years after his rescue, his wife said, he returned to France and was treated like a hero. The family military legacy continues, his son said, through five of his children and five of his grandchildren who have served in the U.S. military.

    Survivors include four daughters, Lucia Sullivan of Henderson, Nev., Laura Godin of Bellow Falls, Vt., Lynn Muao of Johnson City, Tenn., and Lisa Rowe of Monroe; five other sons, Bert Lorentz of Snellville, Rob Lorentz of Augusta, Phil Lorentz of Edgewater Beach, Fla., and Charles Lorentz and Rick Lorentz, both of Loganville; a sister, Patricia Titus of Portland, Ore.; 18 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

    copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on 5/29/2006.