Vicente Tomas (Ben) Blaz
Brigadier General, U.S. Marines (Retired)
Former Member, U.S. Congress (1985 - 93)

     Born on February 14, 1928, Blaz was thirteen years old when Japanese Imperial forces invaded and occupied Guam in December 1941, a few days after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

    Tall for his age, Blaz towered over his captors and was pressed into service with labor battalions building aviation fields and planting rice under very close supervision. During his "spare" time, he helped his father at the family farm.

    During the battle for Guam in July 1944, Blaz and a friend were "captured" by a Marine patrol from the 9th Marine Regiment but were later released when their identity as native Chamorros was confirmed.

 

   He returned to school in
1945 and in 1947, he won an academic scholarship to the University of Notre Dame in "America" and entered the United States via San Francisco. At the onset of the Korean War, he joined the Marine Corp Reserve and attended Officer Candidates School. Following graduation in 1951, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

    Blaz served three overseas tours with the 9th Marines: as a First Lieutenant (Legal Officer) in Osaka, Japan; as a Major (Operations Officer) in Vietnam; and, as a Colonel (Commanding Officer) in Okinawa. He considers his assignment as Commanding Officer of the 9th Marines, units of which liberated him in World War II, the most rewarding assignment in his 30-year service in the Marines. In a remarkable twist of fate, during his career, Blaz served under three officers, veterans of the Guam campaign, with ties to the 9th Marines, who became Commandants of the Marine Corps: General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr.; General Robert Cushman; and the beloved General Louis H. Wilson, who won the Congressional Medal of Honor on Guam. In 1977, Blaz was promoted to Brigadier General, shown here in his promotion ceremony in the office of General Wilson, then Commandant of the Marine Corps.

    In 1980, Blaz retired from the Marines and returned to Guam and the family farm where he was raised. Within a few months, he and his wife, Ann, began to enjoy the fruits of their labor. They both turned to teaching -- Ann in grade school and he at the University of Guam.

    He entered politics as a Republican in a Democratic stronghold and eventually was elected in 1984 to represent Guam as its Delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected President of the incoming Republican class. He served in Congress for eight years.

Education and Awards:
  • Bachelor of Science, University of Notre Dame, 1951
  • Master's Degree, George Washington University, D.C., 1963
  • Distinguished Graduate, Naval War College, 1970
  • Doctor of Laws, University of Guam, 1974
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Notre Dame, 1988
  • Designated Outstanding Asian-American in Public Service, 1992
  • Legion of Merit (twice awarded); Bronze Star (with Combat V); Navy Commendation Medal (twice awarded); Combat Action Ribbon; and, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (Gold Star)
  • Listed in "Who's Who in Marine Corp History"

    A few years before retiring from Congress, he and his wife moved to Fairfax, Virginia to be near their two sons and their families: Tom, Reporter/Anchor, WMAL Radio, Washington, D.C. and his wife Shelane, who have three children - Vince, 13, Rachael, 8 and Joshua James, 5; and Mike, Assistant General Counsel, National Rifle Association, Fairfax, Virginia, and his wife Barbara, who have two children - Joshua Michael, 5, and Virginia Ann, 3.

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