National Guard vet’s remains returned to US after mysterious death

Family demand private autopsy for former National Guardsman, 57, who died mysteriously in business class on a China Eastern flight to Shanghai

  • Norman Easy died on board a December 7 flight from JFK to Shanghai
  • Long Island businessman was a National Guard vet who served two tours in Iraq
  • Chinese death certificate merely says that Easy died of ‘sudden death’
  • Family hired private security firm to compel Chinese officials to release body
  • Body was finally returned on Saturday; private autopsy is planned for Monday 

A private autopsy has been scheduled for the body of a National Guard veteran who mysteriously died on a China Eastern flight to Shanghai.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Norman Easy was found dead at the age of 57 in business class on the December 7 flight from John F Kennedy Airport in New York to Shanghai.

For weeks, the family of the Long Island businessman were unable to get straight answers from Chinese officials about his death, and Easy’s body was only released after they signed a wavier agreeing not to challenge the official account of Chinese police about Easy’s death.

But after Easy’s body was finally returned to the U.S. on Saturday along with a Chinese death certificate that merely states that he suffered ‘sudden death’, the family have scheduled a private autopsy for Monday, according to the New York Post.

Norman Easy (above in an undated photo) died mysteriously on December 7 on board a China Eastern flight to Shanghai. He served two tours in Iraq in the Army National Guard

Easy’s work as a procurement executive at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics took him to China regularly. He is seen above in an undated photo

On December 8, Easy’s wife Nitxia (with him above) became concerned when he didn’t call her upon landing in China for his business trip as he normally did

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Easy, a procurement executive at Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, was apparently in good health, and had a physical just weeks earlier, his family said.

The decorated Army National Guardsman had served two tours in Iraq and as deputy commander of the Harlem-based 369th Sustainment Brigade.

On December 8, Easy’s wife Nitxia became concerned when he didn’t call her upon landing in China for his business trip as he normally did.

Eventually, after contacting his colleagues in China, she learned of his death from the US Consulate there.

The family was given conflicting stories about when on the flight Easy died, however, and became increasingly frustrated at Chinese officials for the delay in releasing his body. 

Easy was apparently in good health and had a physical just weeks earlier, his family said

Easy was a proud veteran and will be given a military burial at Calverton National Cemetery

This week, officials finally provided a few more details to the family, including that Easy hadn’t had anything to eat or drink on the 15-hour flight. 

Easy declined his first business class meal, his 28-year-old son Marcus Easy told the Post, and was asleep for the second meal. 

When flight attendants went to wake him up for the third, his body was cold to the touch.

In a statement, the airline said Norman Easy ‘was found unconscious in his seat before the flight arrived in Shanghai. The crew and doctors worked hard to rescue him but failed in the end.’ 

Easy is seen above with an Army buddy in an undated photo. He served as deputy commander of the Harlem-based 369th Sustainment Brigade

Only after the family hired a private security firm and sent agents to China seeking answers were Easy’s remains released, returning to the U.S. on Saturday aboard a China Eastern cargo flight.

Easy would have turned 58 on Christmas Eve, according to Newsweek. Hoping to comfort his family, former members of Easy’s favorite team, the New York Jets, got together to buy a Christmas tree, presents and a holiday meal for the family

The family will pay $5,000 for a private autopsy, which is scheduled for Monday, and desperately hope the examination will provide further answers.

Easy will be honored with a military burial at Calverton National Cemetery, following a private funeral on January 4. 

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