Norfolk National Guard Armory renamed after ‘true American’

Published 9:26 pm Monday, August 12, 2019

Suffolk resident Steven Lindblad first met U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Timothy Williams two years ago at the Virginia Fallen Firefighter Memorial service in Richmond.

Williams is the Adjutant General of Virginia and commands the Virginia Army National Guard, Air National Guard and Defense Force. According to Lindblad, Williams spotted the 29th Infantry Division patch Lindblad had on his vest.

The patch was in honor of his late father, Arnold H. Lindblad, a private first class with Company B in the 104th Medical Battalion of the U.S. Army 29th Infantry Division during World War II. He was a medic, and one of the many soldiers that served in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.

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“We talked about Dad and why I wear the patch,” Lindblad wrote in an email about his conversation that day with Williams. “He told his aide to get my name and phone number and to give me his phone number. We have been in contact ever since.”

On Wednesday morning, the Norfolk National Guard Armory at 3777 E. Virginia Beach Blvd. will be renamed after Arnold Lindblad as part of an effort to recognize and honor enlisted men. Lindblad served in the Virginia National Guard for 38 years, five months and 21 days, including his time in World War II, according to his son, Steven.

Steven followed in his father’s footsteps for 21 years of service in the National Guard. He recalled when his father took him to the Norfolk Armory’s groundbreaking, along with the years his father served at the armory.

“I was there for the groundbreaking for that building, I was there for the dedication of that building, and then that was my first unit in the National Guard,” Steven said.

He and his father served in the same unit during his father’s last year in the National Guard.

“Everyone there knew Dad and had a lot of respect for him. It was kind of an honor just to be with him for that time,’” he said.

As part of this renaming, a display case will later be installed that will include Arnold Lindblad’s medals, photographs and other items, including other artifacts from World War II and the National Guard 29th Infantry Division’s history.

Among Arnold’s displayed keepsakes will be the spurs he was issued, back in a time when the military still used horses.

“We still have the spurs that he was issued when he went in, and we have a picture of him on a horse with the spurs,” Steven said.

Steven’s father was his hero, role model and friend, who taught him more about being a good person and a good father than he would have ever learned on his own, he wrote.

The elder Lindblad received the Bronze Star for his part in the D-Day invasion, as well as the Purple Heart.

A news article from that time period detailed how Arnold and another soldier were subjects of a story printed in the U.S. military newspaper Stars and Stripes. They carried a “seriously wounded man” that was lying on a mine to safety and tended to his wounds.

Arnold rarely talked about his time in World War II, Steven said. But there was one story that stuck with Arnold, his son Steven and Arnold’s grandson, Travis Lindblad. Travis, 41, interviewed his grandfather Arnold for a project on heroes back when he was in high school.

Arnold told Travis about one dying soldier that he had treated. The soldier cried for his mom as Arnold worked on him. He called Lindblad “mom” through the pain, and Arnold did the best he could to comfort this man — a mother’s dying son.

That soldier died that day. Arnold described that scene, that moment, to his grandson Travis with powerful clarity. “Clear as day,” Travis said.

It was a painful memory, one of many that Arnold Lindblad carried. But it was also one that epitomized who he was.

“He was a true American,” Travis said. “He was a patriot. He did more for other people than he ever did for himself.  That was my grandfather.”