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Brig. Gen. Blazey dies

Brig. Gen. Frank Blazey (ret.) shown in a file photo from May 2015. Brig. Gen. Frank Blazey (ret.) shown in a file photo from May 2015.

Frank Earl Blazey, a decorated Army infantry officer who led troops in the Korean and Vietnam wars before retiring as a brigadier general, died on Monday at the Life Care Center at Lake Pointe Landing. He was 92.

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A 1946 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., Blazey received numerous medals for courageously leading soldiers, at times under heavy fire.
On April 25 and 26, 1951, near Tokchong, Korea, his Company E was attacked by a much larger enemy force as Blazey’s company occupied a defensive position on the Elgin Line. Forced to tighten his perimeter in the face of heavy pressure, Capt. Blazey “fearlessly moved through the intense enemy fire as he organized a defensive position around the command post,” according to a synopsis of the Silver Star commendation. “When the supply of ammunition became critically low, Captain Blazey, on three occasions, personally led a party through the heavy hostile fire to procure more.”
The old soldier did not die, nor even fade away, in retirement in Hendersonville.
He served on the Board of Directors of the Department of Social Services, was an active member of the Rotary Club, was among the founders of ECO and a longtime volunteer in conservation work. He supported the YMCA and Blue Ridge Community College, where he helped found the Lifelong Learning program.
A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Friday, June 30, at First United Methodist Church, with visitation preceding the service and starting at noon, also in the sanctuary. A reception will follow. Gen. Blazey will be buried at West Point, where he got his military training during World War II and where he later earned a masters degree in business administration.

After graduating from West Point in 1946, Blazey began a long and distinguished career as a professional soldier. His wife, Joy, had just given birth to their first child when he got called to combat duty.
“The war started two days after the birth of this child,” he recalled in an interview with the Hendersonville Lightning last year. “And I told her, ‘I’m going to go to Korea. They’re looking for young captains to go to Korea and I didn’t get in World War II. I think I owe it to my country. They made me captain. I’m going to go.”

Blazey was a featured speaker when Blue Ridge Honor Flight announced that it would begin flying Korean War veterans to Washington to see the Korean memorial and other monuments.
“I look back on Korea as an accomplishment,” he said. “We spent over two years there, one in combat, a very difficult time. I’m sorry to say it but I still don’t like the Chinese. They gave me a pretty tough battle but we won that one, too.”

After his service in the Korean War, Blazey would go on to win the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for operations, Department of the Army, from 1964 to 1967; a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (in lieu of a second Silver Star) for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving at headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in Vietnam, in 1967; the Distinguished Flying Cross, for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight while serving with Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in Vietnam, in 1967; a Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (in lieu of a Second Award of the Legion of Merit) for exceptionally service at headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, in Vietnam, from 1967 to 1968; and a second Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster (in lieu of a Third Award of the Legion of Merit) for his service in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Personnel, Department of the Army, from 1969 to 1970.
After his retirement from the military in 1974, Blazey worked for Coca-Cola and a manufacturing company before retiring in Hendersonville with his wife, to whom he was married for 65 years and who died on Feb. 28, 2013. Last year, Gen. Blazey donated $25,000 to the new Pardee UNC Health Care Cancer Center in honor of their daughter, Gay Burgess Blazey, who died of colon cancer in 1990 at age 42. Blazey and his wife also had two sons, both of whom served in the military.
Blazey was called on to give keynote remarks at a Memorial Day event in 2015.
“Take the time to thank the good souls who are a blessing to you and above to all take time to honor those fellows who have given the last fall measure of devotion for the freedom that they chose,” he said. “The definition of patriotism is love and loyalty for one’s country, especially when we’re involved with other countries.”