Soldier made it her duty to help others

Soldier made it her duty to help others
Soldier made it her duty to help others

Command Sgt. Maj. Paula Norris was described as a people person who never failed to offer a smile when it was most needed.
Command Sgt. Maj. Paula (Hogg) Norris wore many different hats.
She was to be remembered today as a soldier and a friend, as a mother and a sister, as a leader in her community.
Ms. Norris, a logistician/engineer with the 194th Engineer Brigade of the Tennessee Army National Guard, died Monday at her home in Martin.
A military service with honors set for today at 1 p.m. at the Union City Civic Auditorium was expected to draw a large crowd of soldiers who knew and respected Ms. Norris for her leadership and guidance through the years.
Several tributes have been posted to Ms. Norris’ Facebook page since her death.
They include memories shared by fellow soldiers and longtime friends — one of whom referred to her as “a big sister” and another who thanked her for her “mothering words of wisdom.”
Staff Sgt. Deborah Davis, who carpooled every day from Martin to Jackson with Ms. Norris, remembered her as “a people person” who was always willing to help others — especially other soldiers.
“Nothing was more important to her than taking care of soldiers and she treated that with the most importance,” Ms. Davis said. “She was just a people person and you just loved Paula. She was a great individual.”
She said even though Ms. Norris worked in supply now, she would go above and beyond to help whenever a need arose.
“If a soldier knew her and needed help, she didn’t care if it was pertaining to supply or not. She would help. If she couldn’t help, she would get them to the right people,” she said.
“Everything was important to Paula, no matter how menial it might have been to anybody else,” she added.
Ms. Davis said her friend was well-known for the saying “Level 4 911” — which always meant she “was on the track to doing something important.”
National Guard Staff Sgt. Chuck Sadler, who now serves as a recruiter for Weakley County and a guest ROTC instructor at the University of Tennessee at Martin, said Ms. Norris had worked her way up through the ranks and was highly respected by her peers.
“She came up through the ranks. … She had done it all,” he said.
Sadler recalled being contacted by Ms. Norris about deployment on different occasions in the past decade.
She had handpicked a few fellow soldiers and he was among them.
The first time was in 2003 when the 155th Engineers from Waverly were mobilized and ended up at Fort Campbell rather than Iraq. The call came again in April 2004 when the 194th was deployed and Sadler and the others who had served with her in 2003 “jumped on board” to serve alongside her in Iraq.
He went again in 2009 for another deployment to Iraq.
“She made a phone call and us boys did not hesitate to follow her anywhere she wanted to go,” he said.
He remembered Ms. Norris as someone who was well liked by other soldiers and very knowledgeable.
“She took care of us,” he added. “I’d do anything for Paula.”
Maj. Gen. Mike Maloan knew Ms. Norris well and worked with her during her 28 years in the National Guard.
In civilian life, he serves as chancellor of the 27th Judicial District, which includes Obion and Weakley counties.
“The Tennessee Army National Guard is saddened at the loss of Sgt. Maj. Paula Norris,” Maloan told The Messenger. “Paula touched the lives of many soldiers during her 28 years in the Tennessee National Guard. Our sympathy goes out to her family and we offer our support.”
Also active in the community, Ms. Norris was involved in fighting another type of battle at the time of her death: She was serving as honorary chairman of Weakley West Relay for Life, a benefit for the American Cancer Society.
She spoke just last week at the event’s survivor’s dinner in Martin, where she explained that she wore a yellow bracelet for cancer survivors — one of whom is her mother, Mary Lou Hogg of Samburg — and another for “the soldiers I’ve left on the battlefield.”
Katrina Cobb, chairman of Weakley West Relay for Life, extended sympathy to Ms. Norris’ family after receiving the sad news of her death Monday.
“Paula was a great inspiration to all of us — both through her service to our country and through her fight against cancer,” Ms. Cobb said. “We ask God to comfort her family and friends at this time of loss and pledge to honor her memory in this continuing battle.”
Chris Menees is a staff reporter for The Messenger in Union City. She may be contacted by e-mail at

wcp 5/26/11

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