and Grand CHildren
Scott and Kathryn Blaison
NOTE: July 17, Services Followed by ST-2 Social; and Burial on July 18.
It is with great sadness that we announce the
passing of Thomas Edward Blais, 84, on 06 July 2014 in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Tom Graduated UDTR Training with Class 04 in Little Creek on 01 May 1949 and served in UDT-2/21/22 and SEAL Team TWO. He also served, most notably, as Head Instructor for UDTR Training.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS FOR
THE MEMORIAL OF
THOMAS E. BLAIS
Thursday, 17 July 2014: 1430: Funeral Mass – JEB Little Creek Chapel 1600: Reception – SEAL Team 2 Hangar Bay Friday,
18 July 2014: 1000 : Graveside Services with Military Honors Hampton National Cemetery Emancipation Drive Hampton, VA 23667
TO ALL: Tom Blais was my favorite instructor where he demonstrated in how to be part of a team. He was also instrumental for guiding me through training, for which I will never forget. He stood out in how frogman should be, and he was an example in how to be a leader and how to care for teammates in the good times as well as the bad. He project strength to all that came in contact with him. I will miss him, but surely he is with me in spirit. He is now in the best place to be as his reward for all his good he has done. God bless you, Tom. Gene Gluhareff
A true Legend has left us but his spirit lives on in all who fell under his influence.
FROGFATHER [at] aol DOT com
His last gift to us was Jesus, in whom he finally found Truth and solace. A fitting end to a complex journey..... and his last instruction to us.....
Honor him by giving Christ a second chance.
Gospeed Tom & thanks...
wmlbishop [at] aol DOT com
to is Teammates,
This is the passing of a Navy SEAL through and through and an important influence on all of us who knew him. R.I.P. Tom Blais.
With deepest sorrow I must inform you that Instructor Tom Blais passed away this evening at 9:53 p.m.. He died peacefully with family at his side. In the last few days, Tom had taken turns really for the worst, and, as daughter Ri just said - He'll now be leading the calisthenics in Heaven - GOD HELP THE SAINTS!! More details as they arrive. Frank Jim, It took a little time for me to get up the courage to call Tom and express my condolences about Rock.
I had visited my old alma mater, SEAL Team 2, and had a wonderful visit
with Rock - the next XO of SEAL Team-2. I must tell you that Rock was
articulate, "in-shape", and a "rock-solid SEAL!" - all that
a father could ask for and a whole lot more!! Talking to Tom about the loss of
his son brought bitter tears to my eyes! But then, in typical Tom Blais fashion,
he told me how proud all of Rock's Teammates were of him and all that he
contributed to SEAL Team-2! Rock was the very best and more!! Your great words
and prayers are so appreciated!
Hi Bill, I just got off the phone with Ri. Tom took a turn for the worse two days ago. As he was in considerable pain, they put him on a larger dose of Morphine and Ativan as well. Knowing Stronger than Steel Instructor Blais, that was not enough so yesterday they doubled the dosage of Morphine. Also, Tom had been eating pretty well, but not so after the setback. As I said to Ri, he will become dependant on the Morphine - but, So What!!
Eva and Ri have done a wonderful job caring for their Dad, and, with tears in her eyes, Ri told me that the end is very near. Ri and Eva asked that I pass this on to all with their apologies for not responding to all the calls and emails that they have gotten. I told them both that sure was not necessary and I told them (From All of Us) that our everyday thoughts and prayers are with them - Every Minute of Every Day! Hi Phil, Your great idea for our Class Shirts now takes on "New Meaning" with the death of "Our Mentor" - Instructor Tom Blais. Last Night was really hard. Both Doc Rio and Bill Langley alerted me that the end was near.
I called Ri twice indicating all of our support and prayers were with all of
them. Ri called back around 11:15 pm to tell me that their Dad had just died -
very emotional night!! I will call Ri again tomorrow for Funeral Details -
but just want to give everyone a little rest for the moment - Eva & Ri
have sure been through a lot in taking such great care of their Dad and they
both need a little rest!
Phil, I was thinking that we would send Flowers from Our Class 32. Phil, as you have been paying for all the costs of the T-shirts, please let me take care of the flowers from all of us. I was thinking of a simple inscription: " Instructor Tom Blais, YOU pushed us harder and trained us harder than any other Class!! We shall all forever miss YOU! UDTR (BUDS) Class 32" Please let me know if the words sound -OK? More later!
to all our Teamates,
To: Jim Hawes. Thanks for getting the word out.
When I learned of CHIEF BLAIS’ move to hospice over two months ago, I became very touched by a wonderful country song that is so perfect for this moment of his passing. I attach that song. Listen to it and as difficult as it is for many of with less than “20-20 hearing,” listen to the words or look them up. That song is “DRINK A BEER” by Luke Bryan who dedicated it to two of his younger siblings who died untimely early deaths. It brings tears but it also leaves you with a smile and warm feeling. I had trouble copying it in, but if you click the arrow on the left side of the bar below, it should play. If not it is worth looking up on youtube and listening to.
Back in the “good old VN” days, when a Team Member was killed or died, we used to joke that he “moved on to SEAL Team 3.” This meaning of this phrase is often lost on those who came a few years after.
In the last week of Apr this year, I received a call from one of the most impressive, beautiful, smart, and loyal persons who ever walked this earth, EVA BLAIS ANDERSON. [Those of you who know Eva will know I understated her character. When Eva was a teenager, she used to babysit our baby girl and we loved her ever since.] Eva told me that her father had been moved from the unassisted side of his facility to the assisted side and without his knowledge had been placed in hospice care. I got the impression that MC Blais was on his last legs. At the time I got her call I had several appointments for a dear friend and WWII hero who fought in all the major battles of WWII (Normandy, Hedgerow, Bastogne, Battle of the Bulge, Ardennes, and was in the first group to cross the Rhine toward Berlin). I am his VA caregiver to make sure that the Phoenix hospital didn’t murder him. I love him because in so many ways he reminds me of MY CHIEF who probably saved my life more than once and definitely kept me out of jail in VN. My dad was a yankee, a doctor, and a pacifist, who didn’t understand me. When I joined the next platoon to deploy to VN, Chief Blais became somewhat of a surrogate father to me. My personality, though not as strong as his, was more in tune with Chief Blais’ than with my dad.
At any rate, I got my friend’s appointments taken care of, jumped on a 1730 plane out of Phoenix and flew to BWI where I rented a car and drove to the facility where Chief Blais was “dying,” or so I thought. I expected him to be flat on the bed, tubes in his arms, pallor on his face, and I just prayed I made it time to say good-bye. I got to VA Beach about 0500 and waited until daylight and “normal” visiting hours. I held my breath and walked into his room. He sat up, started laughing, gave me one his famous bear hugs, and we talked and laughed all day. I previously thought he’d be critical and if I was lucky enough to make it while he was still alive, I’d be able to catch him between naps, only he didn’t nap. He was the same ol ebullient, gregarious Chief I had always known. It was like a reunion, seeing people who meant and still do, e.g., Herschel, Ken McDonald, Sr Chief Jim Cook, et al, plus I got to meet old Team guys I had only heard of but never met, e.g. Harry Coleman. I missed seeing but did get to correspond with a great guy, Bill Gardner, our VN Plt OIC and PT Smith. I even had the honor of talking to RUDY one time. WHAT A GREAT TIME! So I stayed all day and much of the night talking, laughing, and forgetting why I had come. Chief was still flirting with the nurses and probably the most popular (notorious?) resident. When I came in the side door one time, I had to stand in front of a camera and state my business. When I said I was there to see Master Chief Blais, the lady on the other end of the phone started laughing and said to give the Chief a big hug from her. I left the next day knowing that would be the last time I got to hug my Chief and spend quality time with him. I expected him to fade soon, but he DIDN’T. He enjoyed himself and his friend so much. He kept saying how much fun he was having. He spent time with his kids, Eva and Maria, as well as their husbands and grandkids. I called Eva everyday expecting to hear that her dad had headed on over to “ST-3.” That didn’t happen. His wonderful friends called and visited. Herschel became something of a fixture and I think the facility tried to hire him on to cheer up and straighten out other residents. A few weeks ago, Eva told me that the doctor talked with her and said he didn’t expect the Chief to last 24 hours. AGAIN that was a few weeks ago. When the Chief continued to do well, the doctor told her it was in God’s hands and the Chief was a living miracle. I told Eva that God may have a schedule, but so did the Chief and would leave when he was ready (when the fun stopped). The Chief continued to laugh, flirt with nurses, enjoy his friends, and as he said, “have a good time.” The final few days were quite different and hard with a lot of discomfort, eating problems, pain, difficulty breathing, and anxiety. Eva and Maria (recovering from surgery) were there, brave and supporting as always, and thinking only of their Dad, forgetting their own feelings. Finally, it was apparent that the train to ST-3 was soon to arrive, and on the night of Sunday, 06 Jul, it did. Excepting the last few days of hospice, The CHIEF spent his last day ebullient, telling stories, and serving as he always did, as a great role model of strength, courage, and leadership. I know he did more to comfort me than I did him. I WILL miss him but accepted it was his time to go, he would suffer no more -- and he did with love, grace, and dignity.
I talked a good bit with Eva when I was there. She said she would like to have a service or function where people just drank a few beers laughed, and told stories about her crazy Dad. I don’t believe in funerals and shall be there only in spirit; thus I want to share one my most memorable/meaningful stories about THE CHIEF. We had formed the platoon deploying to Nha Be shortly before Christmas 1969. We were still learning about each other in the platoon and rapidly gaining that extra bond that glues a great fighting team together as they go into combat. We had been to a number of schools and were doing some patrolling at night in the cold waters/creeks of Little Creek. We were fired up and ready to go. After we finished a late night evolution, the Chief said he wanted to talk to the platoon and had us fall in the classroom. The chief talked about many things that night, but the heart of his talk was about the “gluing” that molded a disparate group of individuals into a homogenous team when needed. He explained that we were all strong individuals and would remain so, but while in Viet Nam we would become one. We’d know each other in the dark by how we moved, that we’d know each others habits; each others strong and weak points, etc. Finally he paused and quietly looked at the group, silent for a moment. The he quietly and strongly said, “You know the one thing we are going to do!
WE ARE GOING TO LOVE EACH OTHER!” I couldn’t believe my ears. I was dicksmith, hadn’t had the privilege of going through training as had the other members of my team. Sometimes I think that is what drove me to try harder, sometimes to my own detriment. ALL of us had busted our tails to get where we were and now our Platoon Chief, already a legend said, ”WE WERE GOING TO LOVE EACH OTHER!” I remember thinking, “all this effort to get here; a great bunch of teammates with whom to go into battle; and what does the command do, “THEY GIVE US A PLATOON CHIEF WHO IS A DAMN QUEER! AW CRAP.”
It didn’t take long being in-country before I fully understood what the Chief meant, and I think the bond among SEAL teammates is as strong or stronger than any other combat unit in the world. Sometime later I told him about this and we laughed. We talked so many times about this over the intervening years and it was something I used to tell people who didn’t understand THE TEAMS, or outsiders who could never quite understand what the love for one’s Teammates meant But at the end our conversations, I always said, “You know I love you my queer Chief.” He’d just laugh and tell me he loved me too. I am so grateful that I was allowed the time to visit him and talk to him those few days in May. He asked me when I was coming back and I told him later in the year when my wife and I go to visit our son, US Navy stationed at SHAPE; I told him we’d come down to see him on the way to visit our kids in Europe. I didn’t believe that he would last that long but after a few weeks during which I talked with him quite a bit, I began to believe it. But the train came early. I am so very, very grateful that I had one last time in early May to give MY CHIEF a big (good-bye) hug and say for the last time,
“I LOVE YOU MY QUEER CHIEF!” I left him laughing and being the
quintessential leader, mentor, consummate warrior and wonderful lifelong friend
-- MASTER CHIEF TOM BLAIS.
We have a ass hole in our DAV post getting Compensation for PTSD-- he was a seaman aboard a ship in the far east and a Russian plane was seen flying within eyesight of his ship. He says he still has bad dreams because of the incident.
Back when UDT training was what it was and Tom Blais and Chuck Newell were training instructors. Every man they trained could claim PTS after training but never would ever do it.
I am telling you for real if TB or CN ever looked into your face and saw fear caused by the training you would wish you were dead because they would Give you some personal instruction. If you got through that the PTSD would have never mattered and you would never ever get it because you had already had it and never wanted any of it again.
The thing about their personal instruction is that those who got it behind them and stuck it out could always be relied on to never quit or be effected by tough times-- When Blais would get pissed and his face turned red and his eyes dilated and his teeth clenched then he would smile. You knew you were in for something you never dreamed of happening to your little self.
There was one guy in my class the got crossed up with TB someway and when he realized it he ran away, went over the hill, hauled ass. and we never saw him again--and at the time I couldn't blame him-- we all knew he was going to be dead meat and if he came through it he would always be demented.
We had a another guy in my class who had four years service and was a seaman (E3 if you don't remember). this guy had been stationed on Naval Air bases and had always worked in the gym and weight room, when he went aboard a carrier he took care of the weight room and ran around the flight deck. To look at him you would think he was Charles Atlas.
This guy got crossed up with CN and for a couple of day survived but one day Newell walked up to him and told him he was going to run him to death--This guy was no push over either and the next run we were on he knew what was coming up and faked a pass out, We had just had some class on physiology and the word medulla oblongota (medulla)was mentioned, anyway when they brought him around he told them his medulla oblongota was swollen up and he couldn't breathe.
Blais and Newell and Wadell went high order then made some of the guys drag him out into the surf and then made the whole class run over him--They said if anyone that didn't get a Boon Doctor on his ass they would wish they had, and they meant it too!
We never saw this guy again. The Ambulance came and hauled him away then they ran us down the beach and up down ever sand dune until there were guys strung out for miles-- then the Jeep got between the pack and the stragglers and that night the stragglers were kept up squat jumping until muster the next morning.
Once you got in deep like that it made every day harder and harder until there was nothing left, you could only hope for a week end so you could recover well enough to make it through the next week. Just sharing memories---
Webmaster's NOTE: He is one of my best friends. Fred was WIA in 'nam. He was shot through the femur of one of his legs and damn near lost it. He was medically discharged. He rehabilitated himself while a civilian, and although he had one leg shorter than the other one attempted to rejoin the Navy and was declined. The U.S.Army accepted him and he retired as a Major. He was the foremost knowlegable weapons officer in the USA and is now a Gunsmith in Iowa.
They all said "Quit, you stinkin trainee". But I didn't think they really meant it; so I kept my helmet on and stayed away from that dreaded bell.
I really enjoyed your action packed Christmas letter. I will turn 74 on 29 Dec, Rudy's birthday is 20 Jan 1928 (he will be 86 but looks 12 years younger), and yours is 14 Aug 1931 (as if you didn't know; and you look 15 years younger).
Lt. to Rt: standing: Tyree, Sullivan, Tom Blais, Chuck Newell, LT Woodaman, Doc Painter. Sitting: Art Hammond, Jim Cook, Herb Clements, Gene Fraley
MASTER CHIEF TOM BLAIS -- a personal view and
Rick is so sincere and such a strong person that
his messages convey. People are calling from all over the world, literally.
The word "hospice" had conjured up some pretty frightening
images. So for those who haven't had the opportunity or good fortune to
visit the Chief and are concerned about his environment and state, I'd like
to share a few vignettes of each. Some of the e-mails I have seen are very
informative and well-written but don't quite capture the feeling of warmth,
happiness, and fun I experienced while there. A couple times, I saw the
Chief quietly talking and laughing with each of his daughters, Eva's
wonderful husband, and grand kids. I left for those were private moments.
Of course, I stayed when other old Teammates came to visit.
All day long there was a constant stream of people, some of them like Herschel (who comes daily and who I haven't seen in years), rolling through. Talking, laughing, BSing, and just having a good time. Crazy Herschel D. is great medicine as are others the others I saw: Ken McDonald, Harry Coleman or one I never met - Randy Wise; it seemed like most of the First Colonial Staff came into hug the Chief (mostly woman) daily and spend some time talking/laughing with him. As you would expect, the Chief's presence is well known to most of the staff.
When I came through the side entrance, I passed
through the first door and then had to press a button and put my face on
camera where I was asked who I was and what I wanted. When I told the lady
I was coming to visit MC Blais, she started laughing told me to tell him
that Norma sent a big hug. These are NOT hospital rooms, but actual
apartments - very nice, roomy, clean, and comfortable. Residents on both
sides of the facility decorate their outside doors and apartments as they
wish. Many have a dried floral arrangement on the door and one resident has
a lot of American Flags and "Support Our Troops" stickers all
over the door. The halls are attractive and soothing. Naturally, the
Chief's door looked like the entrance to a SEAL museum -- the inside even
more so. His living room has a TV and pictures of his family. There is a
corner with religious artifacts. And there are UDT/SEAL pictures and
memorabilia everywhere. I loved looking at his plaque from his entering the
UDT Training Class in 1947 and then going to UDT 2, UDT 21, and finally
ST-2. Also many don't realize that he went through UDT Training Classes 4
and 16. He briefly got out of the Navy and when he came back, they made him
go through twice. To the best of my knowledge, that makes him even more
unique in the community.
We did talk about the end of life whenever it comes and how important it is to enjoy every moment and all your family and friends -- which he is doing. In the end I left a satisfied and happy man knowing how well he is doing and how much he is enjoying the calls, cards, and visits from his many friends and admirers. I was sad to have missed Rick Woolard who, perforce, was out of town and I would have loved to been there when our VN Plt Commander Bill Gardner (I haven't seen him since VN) visited. But it is gratifying to know so many care and remember that "love of our fellow Teammates is so strong. Medically, it seems almost impossible that the Chief will get up and leave the room -- to break boards or chase woman. But who the hell knows?
The Chief never let minor things like the difficult or
impossible get in his way. Whatever happens and when it happens, he seems
to have made peace within himself, loves his immediate family as well as
his UDT/SEAL family, and when he does go, there is little reason to be sad
except we won't get to see or talk to him in person. He is one of those
rare people in our lives who will ALWAYS remain within us. Many of the
things I have accomplished are in some part due to his influence on and
caring for me. Few have accomplished as much for so many special folks as