Samuel Nathan Blatchford
|Samuel Nathan Blatchford|
|Died||2008 (aged 82–83)|
|Buried at||Arlington National Cemetery|
|Service/branch||US Army Air Corps|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross
Purple Heart (4)
Air Medal (6)
Prisoner of War Medal
Samuel Nathan Blatchford (1925–2005) was an American soldier and civil engineer.
His mother, Pauline Manuelito was the great-granddaughter of the great warrior Chief Manuelito who fought Kit Carson in the Navajo Wars (1869–63) and led his people in exile to the current Navajo Reservation.
In 1941, Samuel Nathan Blatchford began his own journey as a warrior, enlisting into the US Army Air Corps pre WWII. At the age of 17, standing 5’9” and weighing 130 pounds it seemed unlikely that Samuel would make much of a name for himself as a warrior.
During World War II, his plane was shot down and exploded midair over enemy lines. Thrown from the plane, he was able to pull the ripcord on his parachute before losing consciousness. Thereon in, he fought with the French before being captured and spending 18 months as a Prisoner of War in Stalag 17. Upon his rescue and return to the United States, he discovered that his fiancée, who presumed he was dead, had married someone else and was expecting a child. 56 years later, when both had become widows, they finally married.
All in all, Master Sergeant Blatchford earned 28 medals including; the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, four Purple Hearts, six Air Medals and the Prisoner of War Medal. The French government presented him with its Freedom Medal for his work with the French Resistance, a Citizenship Medal bestowing honorary citizenship, as well as the key to the city of Lisio.
In between wars, Samuel earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in business administration. In addition to his native Navajo and second language of English, he also learned to speak Turkish, French, German and Japanese.
Mr. Blatchford died at the age of 81 on December 23, 2005. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 2008, the US opened a $106 million military complex at al Udeid Air Base and named it the Blatchford-Preston Complex, so that the memories of Sergeant Samuel Blatchford and General Maurice A. Preston would not be forgotten.