Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Army Sgt. Jesse A. Blamires

Remember Our Heroes

Army Sgt. Jesse A. Blamires, 25, of West Jordan, Utah

Sgt. Blamires was assigned to the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.; died May 30, 2007 in Upper Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed apparently due to enemy fire. Also killed were Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher M. Allgaier, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua R. Rodgers, Staff Sgt. Charlie L. Bagwell and Sgt. Brandon E. Hadaway.

Utah soldier remembered as loving husband, father

By Deborah Bulkeley
Deseret Morning News

SOUTH JORDAN — "Love" is the word that perhaps most aptly describes the life of Sgt. Jesse Blamires.

Those who knew Blamires, 25, remembered him Saturday for his love of his wife, Kimberly, and his two children, 4-year-old Kalli and 8-month-old Danika. He loved God and he loved his country. He also loved to fly.

"He did what he loved," Blamires' sister, Julie, told those who attended his memorial service at the River 7th Ward building in South Jordan.

On May 30, Blamires "was right there with his infectious smile. He gave me a high five," remembered Mark Jones. Then Blamires boarded a helicopter for the last time.

Blamires was one of seven people killed when Taliban forces apparently shot down the Army CH 47-Chinook helicopter.

Julie Blamires remembered flying had been her brother's dream since he was a young child.

"He had this blanky he loved so much," she said. "It had the ABCs on it. ABC, what do you want to be? He wanted to be a pilot, he wanted to be a pilot so bad. He wanted to have a wife and children."

Jesse Blamires served with the 82nd Airborne Division. He had recently been promoted to crew chief and dreamed of going to officer school and becoming a pilot. Blamires, a Skyline High School graduate, was born in Honolulu and grew up in Sandy. His family lives in Fort Bragg, N.C., where he was stationed.

The last time Mark Jones was pilot in command while flying with Blamires, he remembers going out to have a little fun after completing a test flight.

"I actually got to hear Jesse give an audible 'wee,"' he said.

But Blamires' deployment wasn't just about flying, it was also about bravery. About a month before he was killed, Blamires immediately came to the aid of another aircraft when it came under fire during a mission in Afghanistan.

"He returned fire so effectively that whoever was on the ground decided that the first aircraft wasn't important, and they started to fire at Jesse's aircraft," Jones said. "Undaunted, Jesse continued to return fire until he ran out of ammunition."

Then, a soldier in another aircraft fired back, Jones said, and because of the two, "the mission was a success and we had four aircraft come home safely. That is the definition of a hero. Jesse was a hero."

Flags waved in the family's yard Saturday, and flags lined the street leading to the River 7th Ward. More than 100 members of the Patriot Guard Riders stood watch outside, holding American flags.

"It's just an honor to be here," said Bruce Clement, adding that the riders were present to show respect to the fallen hero and to ensure the service wasn't interrupted.

It wasn't. Few at the service noticed three protestors from the Westboro Baptist Church a few blocks away, holding signs such as "pray for more dead soldiers." South Jordan police said the demonstrators didn't break any laws, including a law passed by the 2007 Legislature against noisy or disruptive protests within 200 feet of a funeral or memorial service.

The Patriot Guard Riders were also present at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, where Blamires was laid to rest, while mourners and a circle of riders holding American flags looked on.

Kimberly Blamires held the couple's 8-month-old daughter as General Carroll Pollett presented her with an American flag. She was also presented with her husband's military ID tags and military honors — the Bronze Star, Air Merit Medal and Combat Action Badge. The honors were also presented to Blamires' parents, Craig and Sandra.

Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. met briefly with the family before the service. Blamires' father is deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America, and the organization created a "Heart of the Eagle" award in Blamires' honor. While Blamires did not achieve the level of Eagle Scout, "he had the heart of an Eagle in the way he lived and died," said Paul Moore, a Scout executive. Future awards will be given to those who exemplify that spirit.

Army Sgt. Jesse A. Blamires was killed in action on 5/30/07.

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