Norfolk armory named in honor of VNG D-Day combat medic

The Virginia National Guard’s Norfolk armory was officially named the Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arnold Lindblad Armory during a ceremony Aug. 14, 2019, in Norfolk, Virginia. The armory is being named for the late Lindblad, who served as a combat medic during the D-Day invasion of the beaches at Normandy, France during World War II, and was the longest-serving VNG D-Day veteran when he retired in 1979. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

NORFOLK, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Norfolk armory was officially named the Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arnold Lindblad Armory during a ceremony Aug. 14, 2019, in Norfolk, Virginia.

Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, hosted the ceremony, which was attended by Lindblad’s son, retired VNG Master Sgt. Steve Lindblad, and other family members, as well as other senior Guard leaders.

Lindblad, who lived most of his life in Norfolk, is best known for his role as a combat medic during World War II, and for being the last VNG D-Day participant still serving in uniform when he retired from the Guard in 1979.

Naming the armory in Norfolk for Lindblad is part of an ongoing effort by the Virginia National Guard to honor and remember World War II veterans. Earlier this year, the Virginia National Guard Headquarters at Defense Supply Center Richmond was named in honor of Sgt. Bob Slaughter, a D-Day veteran who went on to be a driving force behind establishing the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia.

“Today honors one of our own, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Arnold Hugo ‘Tubby’ Lindblad, a man who left behind a tremendous legacy with the 29th Infantry Division and the Virginia National Guard for his service in World War II,” Williams said during the ceremony. “We’re thrilled to have this opportunity to pay tribute to the Greatest Generation, and to all other service men and women who have given themselves to the cause of freedom.”

Williams said honoring Lindblad comes at a special time in history, about two months after the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy by Allied forces. Retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Al Barnes, the VNG command historian, echoed those sentiments when he addressed those gathered at the ceremony.

“In the upcoming year, 2020, we’re going to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day and Victory in Japan Day, but make no mistake about it. June 6, 1944, will always be a significant date in Virginia history,” said Barnes. “Chief Lindblad is one of the guys who made it so significant.”

Barnes also spoke about Lindblad’s legacy as a medic during D-Day.

“He landed on Omaha Beach, earned the Combat Medic Badge and struggled though the hedgerows with the rest of the 29th Division,” said Barnes. “Just ask any of the folks that served with him. He was known as a guy who was never afraid to help. He would always share his knowledge, and he was always the guy who was there for you if you needed him.”

Lindblad’s son Steve spoke about his father at the ceremony, highlighting his legacy as someone known for helping and caring for people.

The ceremony was hosted by Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and was attended by Lindblad’s son, Steve Lindblad, and other family members. (U.S. National Guard photo by Mike Vrabel)

“My dad had four kids, four natural children. They adopted two other children. But also during that time, I had over 100 other brothers and sisters. They took in foster children for Norfolk and Chesapeake. Dad was always caring,” said Lindblad. “Dad did a lot during the war, saved a lot of people. He did a lot of things – I’m still finding out things he did. His favorite medal, the only thing he really honored, was his Combat Medic Badge. He wore it everywhere.”

He also spoke about how the elder Lindblad’s predilection for helping people didn’t change when he returned from Europe.

“Dad didn’t stop being a caring person or reacting to an emergency or anything after the war,” he said. “He worked for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company. He was working at Little Creek and was on one of the piers. He heard a noise and heard some kid yelling and had fallen into the water there. Without even thinking, dad just dropped everything, ran down, jumped in the water, got him out and saved him.

“After he got him out of the water and everyone was there, he just went back to work. Went home, changed clothes, and went back to work. It was just another day,” explained Lindblad, who said his father was presented with a medal for his heroics.

“That was dad. All he needed was just a knock on the door and he was there to help, whatever you needed.

“He was my fellow soldier, my role model, and my dad.”

Lindblad was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1919 before his family moved to Norfolk in 1925. Lindblad enlisted in the Virginia National Guard before World War II, and was serving with the 104th Medical Battalion, 29th Infantry Division when the division was mobilized, eventually shipping out to Great Britain in September 1942.

Initially, Lindblad was charged with maintaining the health of the 29th’s Soldiers as they trained in England, including treating those injured during rigorous training, which was a frequent occurrence. He also practiced preventative medicine, including training Soldiers how to prevent injury and illness.

On June 6, 1944, the 29th Infantry Division fought its way into history during the D-Day invasion of the beaches of Normandy, France. During the attack, Lindblad was attached to the front lines as a medic, caring for wounded infantry and artillerymen, on the beach and eventually further inland. Lindblad was also charged with treating wounded enemy prisoners. Lindblad stayed with the 29th as they captured St. Lô and Brest, and later as they made their way into Germany.

After being discharged and starting a family with his wife Jean Louis Falconer, Lindblad rejoined many of his fellow World War II veterans in the Virginia National Guard. He rose through the ranks, serving with the military police and signal companies, eventually earning selection as a warrant officer and reaching the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.

Lindblad retired in 1979 from the 329th Area Support Group. He passed away in July 2003.

The armory which now bears his name is home to 1st Battalion, 111th Field Artillery Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, commanded by Lt. Col. Shawn Talmadge.