Memorial Day ceremonies at Hill Aerospace Museum will feature two very different opportunities to remember those who gave their lives in the service of their country.
The Aerospace Heritage Foundation of Utah will conduct a formal induction into the Utah Aviation Hall of Fame at 9:30 a.m. in the museum, and at 11 a.m., a chapter of the Daedalian Society will hold a memorial service in the historic Museum Chapel. This year's program, "Fields of Valor." will look at the 24 American Battlefield Monuments in countries around the world. It will include a reading of Sen. Orrin Hatch's background information on his composition "Arlington at Dawn," which will be read by the senator's aide Sandy Kester. Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) will speak briefly at both events. A flyover by the 388th Fighter Wing and Taps will follow the one-hour ceremony at the chapel as everyone gathers on the lawn.
In the earlier ceremony, Lt. Col. Paul A. Blomquist, a medical evacuation helicopter pilot who served in South Korea in the '50s and early '60s and then in Vietnam in 1964-65, will have his portrait added formally to the museum's collection of aviators on its wall of fame there. Blomquist died in one of the first bombing attacks by the Bader-Meinhoff Gang in Frankfurt, Germany, in May 1972. The Red Army terror group claimed responsibility for the attack on a building used by American troops which killed Blomquist just as he entered the Officers Club there.
The Orem man served with distinction earning four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 37 Air Medals and three Purple Hearts as a medevac pilot. One of the citations indicated that although Blomquist was wounded himself he continued flying for nearly 13 hours during which he rescued many casualties while under heavy fire. Upon being wounded, "he ignored his own injury and landed the helicopter in the middle of the battlefield," said the citation. "Despite exposure to multiple weapons fire, he bravely remained on the ground to rescue the wounded."
A Time Magazine article published in July 1965 described Blomquist as typical of medevac pilots of the time, detached and cool under fire. He was admired and respected by the many American advisers in the field and was especially noted for having his own aggressive style. He did not wear a flak vest and his chin strip dangled from his helmet when he flew. Blomquist insisted on flying the most dangerous missions, "Because I like the excitement and because I think my crew and I can do this job better than anyone else. It's the job that counts above all and it's a job that someone has to do," he said.
It was as the commander of a medical service battalion that Blomquist was assigned to V Corps Headquarters in Frankfurt during his remaining tour of duty and was subsequently killed in the bombing attack.
Both ceremonies are free and are open to the public. The museum charges no admission but does ask for visitor donations.
For more information about the hall of fame induction, contact Maj. (Ret.) Pat Gilmore at (801) 298-8597 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the ceremony in the chapel, contact Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jeremy Taylor at (801) 392-1532 or via e-mail at email@example.com.