Bertel Erik Blomquist
761 61 76
|HOME OF RECORD:
|NEXT OF KIN:
Mother, Mrs. Evelyn Blomquist
|DATE OF BIRTH:
1/13/1943 – 8/29/1949
|DATE OF DEATH:
|LAST KNOWN RANK:
Hospital Apprentice, Second Class (WWII)
Pharmacist’s Mate, Second Class (Retirement)
Bertel Erik Blomquist was the son of Boston-born Evelyn Lindahl and Swedish national Erik Blomqvist. His parents married in November, 1923; Evelyn emigrated to the Blomqvist home region of Örebro, Sweden, where “Bertil” was born in January, 1926. The small family lived in the town of Vintrosa until 1933 when, for unknown reasons, Evelyn and Bertel sailed for Massachusetts. (Although Erik paid for their passage aboard the SS Drottingholm, and Evelyn remained “Mrs. Blomquist,” it is not known whether Erik ever joined them in America; he died in Sweden in 1968).
Evelyn and Bertel moved in with the Lindahls in Newton, Massachusetts, where Evelyn worked as a stenographer and “Bert” attended school. He was just shy of his sixteenth birthday when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and while he may have been caught up in the enlistment fever that swept the country, Blomquist was far too young to enlist, even with his mother’s permission. At some point in 1942, Evelyn gave her consent, and on January 13, 1943 – his seventeenth birthday – Bert Blomquist joined the United States Navy.
Photographs courtesy of Rachel Cleary.
Blomquist successfully completed basic training as a Seaman, Second Class before he was given the chance to choose his military specialty. Whether his assignment to medical school was the result of his preference or by random chance is not known; regardless, Blomquist duly reported for training as a hospital apprentice. He was later assigned to the Medical Field Service School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, meaning he would eventually join the Marine Corps as a medical corpsman. After months of training and waiting, Hospital Apprentice Second Class Blomquist received his orders: he reported to the Fourth Marine Division at Camp Maui and on May 8, 1944, became a member of the First Battalion, 24th Marines. That very day, elements of his new command began embarking for Operation Forager – within two days, Blomquist was aboard the USS Calvert. He would have no time to practice his craft in the field, and precious little opportunity to get to know the men he would be treating.
Despite his junior standing and lack of combat experience, Bert Blomquist performed well in the battle of Saipan, treating wounded men from Company A, 1/24 for nearly a month of intense combat. By July 13, 1944, the island was secured, but dengue fever and dysentery were running rampant through the ranks. Blomquist fell prey to some tropical disease, which hit him so hard that he was evacuated from the Marianas islands altogether and sent back to Hawaii for treatment. He missed the invasion of Tinian, rejoining his company only on August 29.
Blomquist trained with 1/24 through the fall and winter of 1944, in preparation for the next operation. He received a long awaited promotion to Hospital Apprentice, First Class on December 4, but was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Aeia Heights just five days later. He would never return to the battalion, and the transfer seems to have ended his combat career. Evidently, he found a calling in medicine, and by the time of his discharge in 1949, Blomquist held the rate of Pharmacist’s Mate, Second Class.
After leaving the service, Bert Blomquist went to work for the American Cancer Society, and later ran a research laboratory on an Indian reservation near Prescott, Arizona. He died on Christmas Day, 1982.
Thanks to Rachel Cleary, Bert’s granddaughter, for the photographs and additional information.