November 5, 2013

Feature obituary: Norman Dupuis, decorated Vietnam veteran, dies at 80

The Saco native was also a skilled locksmith.

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

Norman Dupuis, a decorated Army captain who served two tours in Vietnam and recorded 1,165 jumps in his military career, died Oct. 29 after a period of declining health. He was 80.

Norman Dupuis doted on his grandchildren. “He spoiled those kids,” his wife, Lorraine Dupuis, said. “He was there to listen.”

Family photo

Mr. Dupuis grew up on a farm in Saco and graduated from Thornton Academy in 1953. He was an All-State tackle on Thornton’s football team.

Following graduation, Mr. Dupuis joined the Army and served with its special forces group.

His obituary, which is published in Tuesday’s newspaper, says he was a Green Beret, a Ranger and paratrooper. Part of his job was to parachute over enemy lines to search for missing prisoners of war. Military records show he had 1,165 jumps, most of which were combat-related. However, Mr. Dupuis believed he made more than 1,500 jumps.

Lorraine Dupuis, his wife for 13 years, said he was devoted to serving the country and loved being a paratrooper. She said his experiences in the war are noted in two books; “Boots on the Ground” and “The Ether Zone.”

“Whatever assignment they gave him, Norm was one hundred percent behind it,” she said. “He never questioned it. He loved his country.”

Mr. Dupuis was recognized with numerous medals for his service, including a Bronze Star, an Air Medal, a Vietnam Civil Actions Medal, an Army Commendation Medal, and a Purple Heart for a wound he sustained in combat on Jan. 28, 1966. He served more than 20 years in the Army, retiring in 1973.

Mr. Dupuis spent his later years working for his brother’s business, Dupuis Hardware & Locksmith Inc. in Biddeford. He was a skilled locksmith, known for his ability to pick any lock. His wife said he loved the challenge of working on safes.

“He loved being a locksmith. It was his whole life,” she said. “If anyone was locked out, ... he would go and unlock them for free. He loved it so much.”

He was married to his first wife, Alice Dupuis, for 44 years before she died of cancer. They raised two children. His daughter, Catherine Davis, died of cancer in 2010.

Lorraine Dupuis remembered her husband Monday as a soft-spoken, compassionate and generous guy who loved his family and his country.

Mr. Dupuis’ years in the military took a toll on his health. As he got older, he developed problems with his back and legs. He had some heart issues and was a diabetic.

“He was falling apart,” his wife said. “His way of living, ... his 1,165 jumps affected his health. Yes, it did. But if he had to do it all over again, he would probably stay in the service for 40 years. He loved it. He loved every minute of it.”

Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

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