Thousands of motorists who drive over the Nahatan Street bridge will now be paying honor to Norwood’s most decorated war hero.
The bridge was dedicated Sunday with a bronze plaque identifying it as a memorial to George T. Lee.
Before his death in 1954, the Norwood airman had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Air Medal with 13 oak leaf clusters; the British Distinguished Flying Cross, with citation; the Croix de Guerre: the Silver Star and many other honors.
The Lee family was coincidentally Involved in getting the bridge built.
Mary Lee, a resident of 26 Rock St. in Norwood wrote a letter to the editor of a local newspaper in 1933, suggesting the construction of a bridge and underpass at the site of the Nahatan Street railroad tracks. She pointed out that the section of town in which she lived did not have easy access to the business district, and that children using a “poke-hole” near the Plimpton Press were risking their lives every time they walked to their schools and churches.
Mrs. Lee’s proposal fell on deaf ears until 1936 when her suggestion was finally adopted.
She could never have known that the bridge would ultimately be dedicated to her son.
The speakers at the dedication ceremonies had, for. the most part never met the colonel, but the remarks they made were pretty much on target, according to older citizens In a gathering of
“Ho was a small, modest kid whom everyone liked,” one man said. “At the Walpole A&P store where he worked after graduating from Norwood High, he was known as ‘the skinny little kid who always wore a smile.’ Following Pearl Harbor, he craved to Join the Army Air Corps and wondered If he could make the grade without a college education. He began rushing over to MIT after work every day, taking the courses that were offered for pilot candidates.”
Veterans’ Agent George Thomas added a-humorous- note to Sunday’s ceremony when he remarked, “Georgie went out and ate a bunch oí bananas and drank a quart Of heavy cream on the day of his Induction, in order to make the weight.” Lee passed the Air Corps written test with flying colors.
Less than a year after leaving Norwood, Lee was flying fighter-bomber planes in the Mediterranean Theatre of the war, patrolling the North African coast and playing an important role in chasing the famed Gen. Rommel’s tank corps out of the desert.
War correspondents dubbed his squadron “Lee’s Lieutenants.”
When the fighting swung to Sicily and Italy, the Norwood native was again in the thick of things. After flying 77 missions in WWII (he eventually recorded 258 sorties), the newly promoted major was ordered home for a rest.
When the local paper learned the news, a headline blared, “Norwood Roars Welcome for Colonel Lee.”
By Joe Curran
Special to the Daily News Transcript, September 27, 1988