Friday, January 23, 2004

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael T. Blaise

Remember Our Heroes

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael T. Blaise, 29, of Tennessee

CWO2 Blaise was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Aviation Brigade, based at Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed Jan. 23, 2004 when his OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter crashed on its way back from a combat mission near Mosul in northern Iraq.

Chief Warrant Officer Michael T. Blaise loved to fly so much that he would e-mail pictures of the inside and outside of his helicopter to his family.

“He was doing what he wanted to do, and he loved it,” said his stepmother, Cheryl Blaise. “He told my husband that if anything happened, don’t feel bad: ‘I’m doing what I want to do.’”

Blaise, 29, died Jan. 23 when his helicopter crashed on its way back from a combat mission near Mosul, Iraq. He was based at Fort Campbell, Ky. He graduated from high school in Macon, Mo., in 1993 and attended technical school for a year before joining the Army, which he always wanted to do, said his father, Terry. Blaise felt strongly about serving in Iraq, and said Iraqis often thanked him for his service. Blaise’s wife, Kate, is an Army captain who was serving at the same base in Iraq.

Funeral services are still pending in the hometown of a Northeast Missouri soldier killed in a helicopter crash Friday, just days before he was scheduled to return from duty in Iraq. Now, family and friends of Macon native, Michael Blaise, are gathering at his home. They're sharing memories of this fallen soldier.

Walking into the Blaise household, you'll find moments when the family is laughing as they reminisce and deep sadness as they miss their, son, brother, husband and best friend.

Twenty-seven-year old Captain Kate Blaise married her high school sweetheart, Michael Blaise, six and a half years ago. During that time they balanced their marriage with their careers in the Army. She says, "So much of my life, who I am now, is just completely linked with the person that Mike made me. I don't think I'm going to have a good sense of humor, and it's very difficult to imagine that larger-than-life kind of person not around."

She was close by when news of the helicopter crash came to her and officials are still not certain what happened. She adds, "We don't know exactly, Michael is an excellent pilot, it could have been a variety of things, weather, mechanical, could have been a mistake he made, a lot of different things and to me. That is just not really important. He was doing what he felt and believed very strongly in what he was doing and unfortunately he paid that sacrifice. But it's something he felt was the right thing and he knew was going in, that could be the end result."

They describe this soldier as "larger-than-life, hilarious, dedicated and all about family. In fact, his family and friends agree, when Blaise made friends, he made them part of his family. Scott White ought to know, he says he first met Blaise in flight school. The two the were later based in Korea, and then Fort Campbell at the same time. It was from there they were deployed within the stame Troop to Iraq.

"If you need a line of dry, witty humor, go to Mike. He had them all for you." Terry Blaise says his son had thoughtfully taken this path into service. Blaise says, "He just felt very strongly about it. He was proud to serve his country and he felt strongly about being in over in Iraq and what he was doing and he was proud to be helping people and he loved it."

White adds, "We'd get up and do what we could, every day and every night. Whenever our duty called, put ourselves at risk. He did it. We all did it, for the guys on the ground. They're the ones you see everyday on the news. So, we wanted to be there and do what we could to help them out at any cost. Unfortunately things happen, he paid the ultimate price for freedom."

Blaise says, "He will be sorely missed but he was doing what he loved to do."

Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael T. Blaise was killed in action on 1/23/04.

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