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Jack Ord “Jackie” Herbst

5/30/1923 – 11/30/2007
Branch: Navy
Rank: Coxswain
Unit: Naval Air Transport
Service Dates: 01-05-1944 / 02-25-1946
Veteran Station: St. Louis
County: St. Louis
Conflicts/Significant Events: World War II
Story uploaded: Tuesday, May 8, 2007 / Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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Lyle R. Perry

7/13/1921 – 6/3/2011
Branch: Army Air Corps
Rank: Sergeant
Unit: 10th Aerodrome Squadron, Army Air Corps
Outfit: 4th Repairs
Service Dates: 1942-01-07 – 1945-12-19
Veteran Station: St. Louis
County: St. Louis
Conflicts/Significant Events: World War II
Story uploaded: Tuesday, May 8, 2007 / updated January 13, 2024

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Dennis Eugene Freyling

9/8/1940 – 3/17/2023
Branch: US Marine Corp
Rank: Corporal
Service Dates: 1966 – 1968
County: St. Louis
Conflicts/Significant Events: Infantry Vietnam
Story uploaded: Friday, December 12, 2008 / updated December 30, 2023

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William “Bill” Gohl

3/24/1922 – 12/9/2019
Branch: US Marine Corps
Service Dates: 1941 – 1945
County: St. Louis
Conflicts/Significant Events: Guadalcanal, Guam, Wounded at Iwo Jima in World War II, Purple Heart.
Story uploaded: Friday, December 12, 2008 / December 30, 2023

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Bryan White Autograph 6/8/2022

https://flamexp.com/storyseal-01103/

https://flamexp.com/storyseal-01102/

Nicholas “Nik” Zak

9/14/1930 – 8/31/2021
Branch: Marines
Rank: Sgt.
Unit: 7th
Outfit: 1st
Service Dates: 1948 – 1951
County: St. Louis
Conflicts/Significant Events: Nik joined the Marine Corps in November 1948 and was wounded in Korea, December 3, 1950 sustaining leg and head injuries, losing his eye as well as suffering severe frostbite of his extremities. He received a Purple Heart for his injuries. Nick was honorably discharged from the Marines in September 1951. His name is engraved on The Chosin Few Monument in Forest Park, St. Louis next to the Korean War Veterans Association Memorial.
Story uploaded: Friday, September 25, 2009 / Updated May 7, 2023

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John Robert Wren Jr.

1/7/1921 – 1/25/2022
Branch: Army Air Corps
Rank: Lieutenant
Unit: 766th Squadron
Outfit: 15th Air Force 461st Heavy Bombardment Group
Service Dates: 1942 – 1944
County: St. Louis
City: St. Louis, MO
Conflicts/Significant Events: World War II, POW, Shot Down Over Italy on 13th Mission
Story uploaded: Sunday, November 11, 2007 / updated: Tuesday, March 14, 2023

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William C. Stilwell

1/8/1918 – 1/17/2020
Branch: Army
Rank: PFC
Unit: 121st Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron
Outfit: Troop B
Service Dates: 1944-06-05 – 1945-11-11
Veteran Station: St. Louis
County: St. Louis
Drafted
Medals: Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Infantry Badge, German Army of Occupation
Conflicts/Significant Events: World War II, Rhineland and Central Europe
Story Uploaded Tuesday, May 8, 2007/Modified Monday, January 23rd, 2023

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Michael J. Blassie

April 4th, 1948 – May 11th 1972

1998

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Unknown no longer, Lt. Michael Blassie was laid to rest on Saturday July 11th, 1998 in Missouri soil, under a Traditional VA Memorial bearing his name at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery near his childhood home, over the hill from the Mississippi River.  Lt. Michael Blassie was listed as Missing in Action on May 11, 1972, when his Air Force Jet was shot down near An Loc, South Vietnam near the Cambodian border. Then for fourteen years, from 1984 through 1998 Mike’s remains rested in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery representing those MIA from the Vietnam War.  The full military funeral was held under gray skies and attended by hundreds of veterans, friends, relatives and well-wishers, including Secretary of Defense William Cohen. A formation of four F-15 jets flew overhead, and one of the four broke away in the traditional “missing man” salute.  “He was strong, he was fearless, and he loved what he was doing,” said Patricia Blassie, one of the flier’s four siblings, all of whom spoke at the graveside service. “He was the heart, the soul and the spirit that is America.”  Blassie was 24 years old and a highly decorated Air Force pilot.  The fighting was so intense in the area that the site could not be searched immediately. When remains were found in October 1972 the bones were tentatively identified as those of Blassie, based on an identification card and other effects. But by 1980, that classification was changed to “unknown.”  On Memorial Day, 1984, the remains were buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns alongside unknown servicemen from World War I, World War II and Korea.  An investigation by CBS News prompted the Defense Department to review the case. Blassie’s remains were disinterred and a sample of mitochondrial DNA was removed from the pelvis and matched to a sample provided by the flier’s mother, Jean.  The remains were brought to St. Louis on Friday, and relatives and friends gathered at Scott Air Force base, near his hometown of Florissant, a suburb north of St. Louis. A memorial service was held on Friday night at a Roman Catholic church.  “This has meant so much to us,” George Blassie, Blassie’s brother, said during Friday’s service. “We believe Michael would have been proud of how we pulled together to bring him home.”  The grave site is in the oldest part of the 172-year-old cemetery, and is surrounded by the graves of veterans of World War I and World War II, including several containing remains of more than one person. Ms. Blassie, who is a captain in the Air Force Reserve, explained the family’s quest to identify her brother’s remains and to bury him close to home.  “I kept searching my soul and asking myself what was so important about just six bones,” she said. “But the answer came from my heart. It’s important because it’s my brother.”

2021

On behalf of Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson, the Blassie Family, the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) Class of 1970 and the Jefferson Barracks POW MIA Museum Board of Directors, please join us on Tuesday, May 11, 2021 for the Lt Michael Blassie Day Virtual Event.
Governor Parson has proclaimed May 11, 2021 as LT MICHAEL BLASSIE DAY “in Missouri in Honor of Missouri’s son U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie, and in Honor of all our Missing and Unaccounted For and their Families who bear or who have born the burden, mostly in anonymity, of great personal loss and agonizing uncertainty.”
During this Virtual Event you will hear from Governor Parson along with seven of Michael’s classmates from the USAFA Class of 1970.  Also, a stunning plaque from the Class of 1970 will be unveiled and dedicated to the Lt Michael Blassie Memorial Room at the Jefferson Barracks POW MIA Museum.
At 24 years old, Michael was shot down and killed over An Loc, Vietnam on May 11, 1972, during one of the most intense battles of the Vietnam War.  Unbeknownst to the Blassie family, Michael was found and eventually interred as the Vietnam Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 1984.
Due to overwhelming evidence within official government documents indicating the Vietnam Unknown Soldier was Michael, the Blassie family requested that the remains from the Tomb be disinterred to perform DNA testing.  The family’s request was honored.  The DNA test proved that the Unknown Soldier was Michael allowing the family to bring him home to his final resting place at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, July 11, 1998.
Listen to Michael’s Sister Patricia and several Air Force Academy Class Graduates remember Michael here https://jbpow-mia.org/blassie2021/

Robert Lewis “Bob” Ballard

11/3/1924 – 11/10/2020

Branch: Navy
Rank: ETM 3rd Class
Unit: Electronics Technicians Mate
Service Dates: 1944 – 1946
County: St. Louis City
City: St. Louis, MO
Conflicts/Significant Events: World War II Stationed on the USS Cero & The USS Balao   

Story uploaded/modified: Sunday, December 7, 2008/Monday April 25th, 2022

Bob volunteered in the United States Navy where he was active duty from 1944 to 1946. There he studied electronics and graduated from the U.S. Navy’s submarine school with the rank of ETM3c (Electronic Technician’s Mate) in January, 1946. He schooled at NTC Great Lakes, IL; NTSCH Michigan City, IN; NTC (EE& RM) Gulfport, MS; NTSCH Navy Pier Chicago, IL, and PSC Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. While at Great Lakes Naval Training Station Robert volunteered for the drum and bugle corps. Robert’s first assignment was the submarine USS Cero, a Gato-class submarine in drydock for overhaul at New London, CT, and then on the USS Balao, the lead ship of the Balao-class of submarines based out of Portsmouth, NH. On the USS Balao, Robert worked in communications (the wireless room), which included the ship’s radar. In his free time aboard ship, Robert took correspondence courses through the United States Armed Forces Institute. The USS Balao patrolled the Atlantic looking for Japanese subs until the cessation of war with the surrender of Japan in August of 1945. On June 15, 1946 Robert was honorably discharged at the U.S.N. Personnel Separation Center in Lido Beach, Long Island, NY. (Incidentally, the USS Balao later enjoyed stardom in 1959 when it was featured as the pink-painted submarine in the Cary Grant comedy Operation Petticoat while based out of Key West. It returned to full service until it was later decommissioned in 1963). In June, 1946, Robert re-enlisted with the Navy, (inactive status) and was honorably discharged a second time on June 15, 1950 at Hdqtrs 1ND, Boston, Massachusetts. Robert was the recipient of the American Theatre Medal and the Victory Medal for his active service.

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