4th Platoon, C Company, 4th/47th Battalion, 2nd Brigade
Only recently did I learn from Jace Johnston that SFC Pedro Blas passed away September 10, 1994 – as a result, Sergeant John W. Young wrote the following in SFC Blas’ memory
I didn’t realize that anyone had been searching for Pete
Blas. I was in the fourth platoon for Basic Training at Fort Riley, Kansas, so I got to know him pretty well, and I really thought a lot of him. He had, as I recall EIGHT kids. I lost track of him like everyone else after the war, but a near miraculous event happened in 1974. . .
In November, 1974, I went back into the Army, under what was called the Minuteman program, where prior service members could re-enter without having to go through Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training all over again. I had enlisted to go to Germany and I was first sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to process in and get all my usual issue of gear. There were maybe 100 of us prior service guys there in the same barracks. There were a couple Drill Sergeants in charge of us, but they didn’t really want to spend any time screwing around with a bunch of Vietnam veterans, so we had some spare time. I had brought with me the sheath knife that I had carried in Vietnam (which my father had carried throughout the Pacific in WW II—and of course, I still have ) and the first night there, I figured I’d better tell the NCOIC that I had the thing rather than have them find it and jerk me around over it. After all, it was a pretty serious weapon. I went to the orderly room, and the Drill Sergeant there was an E-7, a big brown-skinned guy, and from his appearance and his name, I reckoned he had to be Guamanian (as was SFC Blas), so I told him about the knife. He said OK, and he realized that they hadn’t done a shakeddown inspection for this kind of thing. He and I got to talking, and he was in fact Guamanian. I asked him, without much hope, if he happened to know an E-7 named Pedro Blas. He smiled right away, and said “Pete Blas? Hell yes I know him, he’s retired here and lives just a few minutes away. I’ll call him.” Ya couldda knocked me over with a feather! A few seconds later I was on the phone with Blas and I couldn’t believe it! I said something to him, and he replied “You shit, too,” and I KNEW it was him. We talked for awhile and he asked for the Drill Sergeant. When he got back on the phone with Blas, there was a bunch of rapid Guamanian exchanged, and he finally said “OK, I ‘ll let him go.” Pete Blas came and picked me up (naturally against regulations, we weren’t supposed to go anywhere, let alone off-post) and took me to his house, and I don’t remember much after that cuz we started into the beer right away. We had quite a night of talk about our Vietnam experience, then he brought me back on post and the next day (badly hung over) I left for Germany.
Somehow or other, I found out about Pete dying, but I swear I can’t recall for sure who told me or when – but it might have been 1st Sergeant Crockett at one of the Charlie Company Reunions. Anyway, I did see Pete Blas that one last time in 1974. One thing I recall that he said was, “Look at me, I got no babies at home any more!” I really liked him, and I doubt that the U.S. Army ever had a better mortar man than Pedro Blas – he was a TOUGH man and very strong, but I do remember seeing him cry on 19 June when so many of his men were shot up and some were killed.
A helluva fine man and a friend. . .
John Young – December 23, 2004