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COL Robert E. Blount, USAR (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #6973

COL Robert E. Blount, USAR (Ret)

December 22, 1923  – October 21, 2021

On October 21, 2021, the eternal pilot, Robert “Bob” Earl Blount, took off on his final earthly flight to the heavenly skies at the age of 97 while resting in his favorite chair at his home in San Antonio, TX.  His destiny would be written as a member of the “Greatest Generation”.

Bob was born in Coffeyville, Kansas in 1923 to parents Ethel and Earl Blount. He graduated from Field Kindley Memorial High School, attended Coffeyville Community College and later graduated from Tulsa University with studies in political science and history. He belonged to Kappa Alpha Order Fraternity and was a life member.

His life-long love of flying began at the age of 18 and never waned. On October 10, 1942, Bob enlisted in the Navy and subsequently was sent to Ottawa University for elementary flight training and then primary flight training at Glenview Naval Airbase near Chicago.

Bob completed pilot training at Naval Air Station, Kingsville, TX and then graduated at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, TX with the designation of Naval Aviator. He was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Marine Corps and on May 17, 1944, he entered in the Pacific Theater as a dive bomber pilot where he flew combat missions in the Central Pacific, and Southwest Pacific.

Afterwards he was stationed in North China for a year. He had shared with this writer that he had flown to every island in the Pacific except for one.

He flew numerous military aircraft which partially includes the SNJ (T-6), SBD Dive Bomber, SB2C Hell Diver, SBW Dive Bomber, F8F Bear Cat, L-19 Bird Dog, TBM-3 Torpedo Bomber C-45 Transport, T-33, 34 and 28 and the A1E Skyraider. Bob loved flying the F4U and F4U-4 Corsair. Years later while serving in the Army reserves, he learned to fly fixed wing helicopters such as the Dehavilland Beaver and Huey.

While he was stationed in North China on a date chosen to commemorate Pearl Harbor day, his good luck and skill would save his life. A newspaper clipping reports that “On December 8, 1945, he and 6 other planes had taken off early in the morning near Tienstsin for air cover and a show of force with most of the other marine planes in North China in mass formation. On the return flight to their base at Tsingtao (Quingdao) in the Shantung Peninsula, the pilots encountered a heavy snow storm and six of the planes crashed into the mountains. As he was about to crash, he banked sharply and was caught in a down draft which tumbled his gyro instruments. He yelled for his gunner to jump and in an instant after his own parachute opened, heard the plane crash into the side of the mountain. His gunner was killed as were 10 pilots and gunners in the other five planes.” As luck would have it, he landed safely on a rock then made his way to a village where he spent the night. The next day he was released to the communist Chinese and was taken prisoner along with another survivor. After 10 days in captivity, “his rescuers persuaded the communist Chinese to accept a reward of 2 million dollars in virtually worthless Japanese puppet currency for their safe deliverance.” Apparently this scheme worked and both survivors were “wined and dined by the Generals” that evening.

In 1951, he returned to service in the Korean Campaign where he flew 115 combat missions. Upon returning to the United States, he was assigned to Pensacola, Florida as a flight instructor until leaving the service in June,1956. During his service in Korea, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and seven Air Medals for acts of heroism. His military service spanned 40 years and included the Navy, Marines and lastly the Army reserves. As an Army reservist, he graduated from Infantry School in Ft. Benning, Ga; Command and General Staff college in Ft. Leavenworth, Ks. and was a designated Logistician. Bob loved serving our country as a military officer retiring on December 22, 1983, with the rank of Colonel in the Army reserves. He was awarded the Legion of Merit and The Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding achievements and position of great responsibility.

Bob moved his family to San Antonio in 1956 where he was employed with United Services Life Insurance Company for nearly 20 years. In the 1970’s he acquired the Brussels Insurance Agency which was successfully managed until his retirement during the mid 1990’s.

His love of flying spanned 79 active years totaling over 15000 flying hours. As a civilian pilot, he flew over 20 different aircraft including the Funk, the Beechcraft Bonanza through Queen Aire, Piper Cub through Navajo and Cessna 152 through 340. Throughout the last 20 years, Bob regularly flew with his longtime friend, Jack Calhoun and wife Michelle. On December 20, 2013, Bob was honored with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award which is the highest award given by the FAA. This award recognizes pilots who have “demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 years or more.”

He was predeceased in death by his parents, Ethel and Earl Blount, his older sister, Betty, and his former wife, Beverly Blount-Hemphill. He is survived by his former wife, Marion Bakke- Blount, daughter, Barbara Blount-Johnson (Bill) of San Antonio, TX, son Robert A. Blount of Vail, CO, William E. Blount (Marsha) of Loveland, OH; grandchildren Lauren Schultz-Billa, Will Blount, Beverly Johnson, Jack Blount, great-granddaughter, Penny Billa and numerous nephews and nieces of the clans McDonald, and Haddan.

He is remembered as a modest and humble man, not wanting to impress but rather express. Bob was known for caring for and assisting friends in need. In his retirement years, he frequented the Petroleum Club where he loved sharing Friday evening happy hours with friends and hosting monthly Kappa Alpha luncheons for his fellow fraternity brothers. Many thanks to Martha at the Petroleum Club who always had a place set for him at lunch on Wednesdays and Fridays. He often commented that he was thankful for living during these times and was lucky in all aspects of his life. Most everyone who knew him will recall his favorite word, “Whatever”, which had a way of lightening up any heaviness of the moment. As a father, uncle, friend, he will be dearly missed.

Bob was a life member of the Caterpillar Club, the Marine Corps Aviation Association and The Distinguished Flying Cross Society. He was a member of Perfect Union Lodge No. 10 and a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. He was a life member of the Order of the Daedalions and Stinson’s Flight No. 2, Randolph AFB, TX. He was a member of the Order of the Alamo, the Petroleum Club, the Conservation Society of San Antonio, Sons of the Republic of Texas and a Descendant of Austin’s Old Three Hundred. He was proud of being an Imperial Turtle of the Ancient and Honorable Order of the Turtles.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Daedalian Foundation, PO Box 249, Universal City, TX 78148-0249, or the charity of your choice.

Service is scheduled for Wednesday, December 8, 2021 at 1:00 PM, Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.