Vicente T. Blaz

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Vicente T. Blaz
Ben Blaz.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Guam's At-large district
In office
January 3, 1985 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Antonio Borja Won Pat
Succeeded by Robert A. Underwood
Personal details
Born Vicente Tomás Garrido Blaz
(1928-02-14)February 14, 1928
Agana, Guam
Died January 8, 2014(2014-01-08) (aged 85)
Fairfax, Virginia
Resting place Arlington National Cemetery
Political party Republican Party of Guam
Spouse(s) Ann Evers Blaz (widowed)
Residence Ordot
Alma mater Notre DameThe George Washington University[1]
Awards Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Military service
Nickname(s) "Ben"
Allegiance United States Guam United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1951–1980
Rank Brigadier General
Commands 9th Marine Regiment
Battles/wars Korean War
Vietnam War

Brigadier General Vicente Tomás Garrido Blaz (February 14, 1928 – January 8, 2014), also known as Ben Blaz, is a Guamanian United States Marine Corps Brigadier General from the United States territory of Guam. Blaz served in the Marine Corps from 1951 to until July 1, 1980. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reserve Affairs, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, D.C..[2]

Blaz was elected the delegate to Congress from Guam in 1984 as a Republican. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1985 until 1993.


Early life[edit]

Vicente Tomás Garrido Blaz was born on February 14, 1928 in Agana, Guam with his father Vicente "Dero" Cruz Blaz and his mother Rita Pangelinan Garrido. His siblings are Rosario Blaz Cruz, Maria Blaz, Emilia Blaz Rios, Alfred Gregorio G. Blaz, Joaquin G. Blaz, Patricia Blaz Borja and Frank G. Blaz. He was living on the island during the three years of Japanese occupation during World War II. During the occupation he was forced to work in labor battalions building aviation fields and planting rice.

In 1947, he was awarded a scholarship to the University of Notre Dame.

Marine Corps career[edit]

Blaz as a Marine

At the beginning of the Korean War, Blaz joined the Marine Corps Reserve and attended Officer Candidate School. He graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science degree. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps after graduation. He subsequently attended George Washington University, Washington, D.C., where he received a Master of Arts degree in 1963.

Service schools Blaz attended include the Navy’s School of Naval Justice for legal officers, Newport, Rhode Island; the Army’s Artillery and Guided Missile School, Fort Sill, Oklahoma; the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, Quantico, Virginia; and, the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, where he was designated a Distinguished Graduate. His thesis, The Cross of Micronesia, was published in the Naval War College Review and entered verbatim in the Congressional Record in August 1971.

General Blaz served in a variety of command and staff billets throughout the Marine Corps, highlighted in 1972 by his assignment as Commanding Officer, 9th Marine Regiment, which was one of the major units involved in the liberation of his native Guam during World War II.

From September 1972 to August 1975, General Blaz served as Chief, United Nations and Maritime Matters Branch, International Negotiations Division, Organization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C. In this assignment, he represented the Joint Chiefs of Staff on U.S. Delegations to several international multi-lateral negotiations in Helsinki (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe) and Geneva (Law of War) and was an action officer on Law of the Sea matters.

In December 1974, the University of Guam conferred the degree of Doctor of Laws on General Blaz.

Blaz retired from the Marine Corps with the rank of Brigadier General in 1980. As of February 2010 Blaz is the highest ranked Chamorro to have served in the Marine Corps.[3] He was a professor at the University of Guam, and was then elected as a Republican to the House in 1984.

Delegate, U.S. Congress[edit]

He ran for Congress in 1982 and came up short against political legend Antonio Borja Won Pat. Under the slogan “Right Man, Right Now,” Blaz defeated Won Pat in a rematch in 1984.[4] He went to Congress as a Republican freshman and he was elected President of his class. He joined the Armed Services, Resources and Foreign Affairs Committees where he quickly established a reputation for a strong national defense and a strong commitment to the political development of Guam and the surrounding region. He established strong relationships and demonstrated a rhetorical style that resonated for years.

In hearings on the status of Micronesia, he admonished the Bush Administration representatives that “we are guardians, not guards of Micronesia.” In response to a New York Times editorial supporting statehood for the District of Columbia, Blaz took the opportunity to explain Guam’s situation. He ended his plea for dignity and recognition for Guam by stating “We are equal in war, but not in peace.”

These words have been used by subsequent Delegates from Guam as well as the other territories whenever matters of political development are raised. In spite of misgivings and his effort to point out the realities of Washington politics, Blaz faithfully introduced the Guam Commonwealth bill twice and advanced the cause of the return of excess lands and war reparations. His successors built upon these efforts.

Blaz was the second Chamorro to serve in the U.S. House of RepresentativesHe served on the Armed Services, the Interior and Insular Affairs Committees, and the Select Committee on Aging. During his first term, the 99th United States Congress, he introduced legislation — the Veterans' Educational Assistance Act — to expand eligibility under the G.I. Bill.

In 1992, Democrat candidate for congress Robert A. Underwood announced he will challenge Blaz in the upcoming November election for his delegate seat. Blaz defeated for re-election by Underwood in the November general election, until he retired to Ordot, Guam.

Death[edit]

Blaz died on January 8, 2014, in Fairfax, Virginia of acute respiratory failure, he was 85.[5][6] He was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

Awards and honors[edit]

Blaz's military awards include:

V
Gold star
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Gold star
Legion of Merit Bronze Star w/ valor device Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 1 award star Combat Action Ribbon Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
Navy Presidential Unit Citation National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Korean Service Medal Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 service stars
Vietnam Gallantry Cross w/ gold star Vietnam Gallantry Cross unit citation United Nations Korea Medal Vietnam Campaign Medal

In 1988, Blaz was honored by his alma mater, when the Notre Dame Alumni Association presented him with the Corby Award, which honors alumni who have distinguished themselves in military service.[7]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schudel, Matt (23 January 2014). "Vicente T. ‘Ben’ Blaz, Marine general and Guam delegate, dies at 85". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  2. ^ Congresswoman Bordallo Mourns the Passing of Brig. General Blaz
  3. ^ Jesse Leon Guerrero (25 February 2010). "Marine band to perform at Asan Park". Guam Pacific Daily News (Gannett). Joint Region Edge Staff. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Chi, Tsung (2005). East Asian Americans and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook. Political Participation in America Series. ABC-CLIO. p. 145. ISBN 9781576072905. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  5. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/vicente-t-ben-blaz-marine-general-and-guam-delegate-dies-at-85/2014/01/23/a41a445c-8397-11e3-9dd4-e7278db80d86_story.html
  6. ^ VIDEO: Former Congressman Ben Blaz Has Died
  7. ^ "Corby Award". Alumni Association, University of Notre Dame. Archived from the original on 2006-08-23. Retrieved 2006-07-07. 

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Antonio Borja Won Pat
Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives
from Guam

1985–1993
Succeeded by
Robert Anacletus Underwood