Honoring Our Heroes
June 1, 2023 | View PDF
STAFF SERGEANT DORIS COBB NORRIS
Staff Sergeant (SSG) Cobb Norris served six years in the United States Marine Corps, rising to the rank of Staff Sergeant during her service to the U.S.A. Her Military Occupational Specialties focused on information technology as well as journalism and public relations. Throughout her military career, SSG Norris received a number of awards, yet the Good Conduct Medal appears to be her most prized honor.
SSG Norris was born on June 10, 1928, the daughter of George W. Cobb Sr. and Hester Robinson Cobb, in Montgomery, AL, and was reared in Coosada, AL. She graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 1947, and while attending Sydney Lanier High School, she started entry-level work as a key punch operator and rapidly progressed to senior technical analyst. As such, it became her responsibility to train additional people as they were hired for the Alabama Department of Education from 1946 to 1954. Norris's typing skills coupled with uncanny accuracy enabled her to understand the complex ADE coding system. At that point in time, the work was performed using punch card equipment. During this period, she simultaneously served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1951 to 1954.
SSG Norris enlisted in the United States Marine Corps December 31, 1954, in Birmingham, AL. An important part of her incentive for joining the military was that she had four brothers who had served in the military during WWII, and amazingly all four of her brothers returned home safely. SSG Norris completed Boot Camp at Parris, Island, SC, followed by service at Camp LeJuene from March, 1955 through March, 1957.
Because of her training and experience in information technology, at Camp LeJuene, SSG Norris taught new recruits early computer technology which utilized punch cards/tabulating equipment including the wiring of 'plugboard' control panels. She also trained Marines who were returning from combat.
In March 1957, SSG Norris re-enlisted for a three-year hitch in the USMC in order to attend a 16-week course at the U.S. School of Journalism at Great Lakes, IL. This comprehensive course included journalism, radio, and photography as well as military customs and courtesies. Upon completion, she was stationed at the 4th MCRRD in PA. For the remainder of her re-enlistment, Norris travelled across a five-state area. Her new mission was to recruit and enlist Women Marines, beginning at the high school level. For six months of each year, she also travelled with the Women Officer Selection Officer (WOSO) to all colleges and universities in the state, selecting women to attend Officer Candidate School (OCS). These special assignments included extensive travel, numerous speaking engagements, public appearances and photographic journaling. SSG Norris notes that these duties offered many opportunities to improve her photography skills. She remains an avid photographer to this day. SSG Norris was discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps in Philadelphia, PA, on March 30, 1960. Upon discharge from military service, she attended Temple University as well as several other universities along the way and remained in the Philadelphia area for several years. In 1964 SSG Norris returned to Alabama to work with the world renowned Space Program at Huntsville, Alabama.
For almost half a century 1960-2001, retired SSF Norris traveled across the country working in 44 of states as an independent trouble-shooter for many large aerospace corporations. Her woman-founded and owned company specialized in information technology. The scope of her work included military data bases, TOP SECRET required clearance, an artificial intelligence system, out of space technology with NASA's launch of "men to the moon" in the 1960's, and also the design of computer controlled firing systems for US Naval ships at sea. The work with NASA included the moon shot and a special request assignment to return to do the information retrieval when the Astronauts were killed in 1967. While working with NASA, she also taught information technology at a community college in Athens, AL. Norris's journalism training enabled her to succinctly define a company's problems and subsequently write recommendations for correcting these issues.
SSG Norris has held memberships in the U.S. Marine Corps League, Women's Marine Association, V.F.W. Auxiliary, American Legion, RVing Women and the Robinson Springs United Methodist Church.
After both military and professional retirement, Norris continued to contribute to the world and to her community by volunteering her training and skills to create informational graphics, by teaching and by making videos to aid homeless female veterans in Phoenix, Arizona. She created a video to honor AZ WWII women veterans for showing at the US Airways Arena. Furthermore, she raised the funds needed to purchase and furnish a 16-unit apartment building for homeless female veterans there. She has also created five veterans' Honor Walls at assisted living facilities that span across the U.S., from Arizona to Alabama. She used a large motorhome for both temporary quarters and travel to multiple locations.
Norris sums up her exceptional life of service in these words, "The training that I received while serving as a Marine enhanced my civilian career one thousand per cent. The public relations, military terminology, customs and courtesies training made me very much in demand for top secret clearance, for projects in outer space and in a number of vital military-related operations. I had a marvelous life working in almost every state in the U.S.A. and in Canada. I have enjoyed every minute of traveling and visiting each place. Incredibly, I have maintained lifelong friendships formed while stationed at Camp LeJeune. The demand for my work was always such that I never had to look for job. Writing artificial intelligence systems was a joy as were the people I met on my life's journey! I have been truly blessed both professionally and personally. I have a family that loves me, friends all over the country and many wonderful memories. My life could be summed by three songs, namely, "Climb Every Mountain", "On the Road Again" and "What a Wonderful World." "Life has been good! I am a Christian and believe firmly that I will not "go on (final) leave until my job on this earth is done."