United States Naval Ships - USS Greenwood DE 679, USS Strong DD 758, USS Greenwood DE 679, USS Strong DD 758
Awards Medals - Navy Good Conduct, China Service Medal Extended, National Defense Service, Korean Service Medal, United Nations Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United States Navy Commemorative Medal
Married April 27, 1957, to Mary Ann (Gawlowicz) Begier at St. Hyacinth's Parish in Dunkirk.
Norman Begier, U.S. Navy
Children: Mary Beth Damon and Margaret Ann Berlin
Grandchildren: Thomas Damon, Travis Damon, Mary Catherine Damon, Meghan Berlin, Katheryn Berlin.
Norman Begier was born on April 12, 1932, at Brooks Memorial Hospital in Dunkirk. He is the son of Edmund and Elizabeth (Kozlowski) Begier. He and his sister Audrey grew up at the Begier's Lord Street home. Growing up on Dunkirk's First and Fourth Ward border, I found out that the area of Dunkirk that Begier called home was referred to as Lord Street DAV. When I asked if he meant the area of where the Disabled American Veterans Club, is located, he smiled and said no. But I was close. The DAV referred to the Lord Street Dunkirk Allegany Valley Group. Begier explained that there was a baseball field located on Talcott and Nevins Street with the outfield home run fence being next to the railroad tracks.
Begier grew up with his Fourth Ward friends. When asked about the Lord Street DAV group Begier recalls he spent his early days with friends that to this day bring back memories of those wonderful days one has as a child growing up. His friends included: Tarnowski brothers, Chester a.k.a. (Fats); Alphonse; a.k.a (Mongy); Ray a.k.a (Claw) and the Skubis brothers Bronislaus a.k.a. (Brownie); and Ed a.k.a. (Skinny). With a smile, Begier said we can't forget Hank Bak a.k.a (Shoebox) along with the daily baseball games in the summer and snowball fights in the winter.
Now and then the free train rides that took the boys to Fredonia meant a long walk back. When Norm wasn't hanging out with his neighborhood friends, he had to take time to deliver the Evening OBSERVER. The route was parts of the First and Fourth Wards. Begier also recalled delivering the Buffalo Courier-Express and actually had the chance to deliver a Polish paper that was printed in Buffalo. He recalled receiving about three cents per paper.
Begier's education started at the Sacred Heart School located on Railroad Avenue. Some people also called it the St. George's Catholic School. While attending Sacred Heart School, he played CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) basketball. He enjoyed the outdoors and being a Boy Scout. He was very active as a boy scout, and his only disappointment came many years after when he realized that only one merit badge, life saving, kept him from being an eagle scout.
High school came and Begier excelled at baseball, football and basketball. He earned letters in each sport. Later came the honors of being named to the County All Star team and being named to the Western New York State All Star Team.
Begier recalled playing both offense and defense during a Friday night game on Nov. 12, 1948 between Dunkirk and Fredonia. The Evening OBSERVER article stated that the game had an attendance of 5,000 fans. Begier, while shaking his head, pointed out Fredonia beat Dunkirk 25-12. The next season brought Begier's most memorable high school football glory days, with only one loss to Jamestown. That made the 1949 season unforgettable for him.
One day after graduation, Begier was hired by G.E. (General Electric) at the Dunkirk Power Station. He recalls a call from his principal Mr. Hayes stating that he recommended Begier for the job.
Jan. 4, 1951 brought him to the Dunkirk Post Office where he signed papers to become a United States sailor with his friends Robert Fafinski, Bill Hayden, Joe Kulig and six other enlistees. They were off the next day to Buffalo to be sworn in. The following day the train ride took him to boot camp at Newport, R.I.
After boot camp he was headed to the USS Greenwood for training in sonar. The next months brought constant training to newer sailors on sonar and tracking enemy submarines. His main MOS (military occupational specialty) was Yeoman. On this job he was responsible to keep all ship records and to keep them straight.
Records included daily logs, personnel records, discipline and in some cases classified and confidential material. Since he had the qualifications of Yeoman he received orders to his new ship the USS Strong DD 758. With the Korean War in its police action cleanup state, the USS Strong patrolled the waters making sure the Korean conflict didn't re-ignite.
As the French War in Indo China was brewing, the USS Stone was now off to the South China Sea to patrol the waters along the Vietnam coast. This cruise took the USS Strong to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Everyday involved tracking, listening and preparing for any signs that could lead to more world conflicts.
When his Navy years were behind him, he came home and received employment at Allegheny Ludlum working in its lab department. When a layoff came, Begier decided to get a college education. He was off to Angola, Ind., and enrolled as a student at the Tri-State University. He received his bachelor's degree in administration.
After graduation he came home and landed another job at Allegheny Ludlum now in the tool steel metallurgy lab. Other jobs landed him at Bethlehem Steel as assistant foreman in the hot finishing department. Next came MRC Bearings and then back to Allegheny Ludlum in marketing and sales until his retirement in 1987.
After retirement, he and Peter Briggs purchased the Dunkirk Metal Products. After eight or more of work he retired for good in 1994.
Some of his life achievements include being a Dunkirk Board of Education member, city councilman-at-large in 1971 and President of Hose Company 4. In 1983 he was named to the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame.
One of his highlights was in February 2009 while at Disney World in Orlando. Norm Begier and close friend from Franklin Street Robert Fafinski were both honored with the title Veteran of the day, which included walking in the parade with our flag.
Begier was an active firemen for more than 30 years as a member of Hose Co. 4 and served as its president for six of those years. He served as a councilman-at-large for the city in 1971 and 1972 and a member of the Dunkirk School Board of Education from 1978 t0 1983. He served as secretary of the Dunkirk Local Development Corp., president of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish council, on the advisory board of the Niagara permanent Goldome bank in Dunkirk and Gowanda branches, on the Board of Directors of New Enterprises Inc., Chautauqua County, (member and vice chairman of the advisory boards), Dunkirk branch of the Automobile Club of Western New York, a member of the board of Lake Shore Savings and Loan, and a member of the Board of Directors at the Shorewood Country Club.
Begier is a member of the World War II veterans organization, the First Ward Falcons, Dunkirk exempt and the American Legion. In the winter months he and his wife Mary Ann live in Lakeland, Fla., where they spend time with other local residents Jamie and Pete Briggs, Ruth and Howard Mitchell and Jack and Arlene Jamison.
In doing these stories I am often asked, "Why do you do these? How long do they take? How many more will you do?"
The answers are easy: I'm honored to do them. It takes as much time as needed to tell this hero's story and I will do them as long as I can. Doing Begier's story was an honor. Like the Navy Yeoman he was, he had every paper in order. What a story about the ships and the places these men have seen. They didn't know what the next day would bring only knowing it will be as a sailor in the United States Navy. Begier had done what I wished I would have done. He kept a daily log of his military experiences.
Daily logs that someday will be read by his family, stating the ships, the duty stations and the service that was given. Reading the 1954 world cruise log that the USS Strong DD 758 had sailed a total of 44,923 miles crossing the International dateline twice. All this history, not only Begier's family history, not only Lord Street DAV History, but our history. We now know another story. We know about Norman Begier. We know about the USS Greenwood DE 679 and the USS Strong DD 758. We now know a little more area history. For this, we honor you Norman Begier. He is our Hero of the Week.