Eric George BlantinWarrant Officer
D TROOP, 3RD SQDN, 5TH CAVALRY, 9 INF DIV
Army of the United States
13 April 1949 - 20 November 1969
Panel 16W Line 097
The database page for Eric George Blantin
I met Eric in early April, 1969 when he came home to visit his parents in Connecticut before heading to Vietnam. We met at the Fore N' Aft in Brewster, New York, where I went on weekends to dance. He asked me to dance, and we danced together the rest of the evening and talked. Being he was such a good-looking guy, I asked him if he had a girlfriend. He said, "Well, they think they're my girlfriend, but I know they aren't." He then asked me if I had a boyfriend, and I said the same was true for me, too. With that question out of the way, we both relaxed in each other's company and continued dancing and talking.
At the end of the evening, we definitely wanted to see each other again, so we sat in his little green MBG-GT and made plans for him to come over to my parents' house in N.Y. the following day. He showed up that afternoon, and after playing some pool in my parents' basement, we went out that evening to a drive-in movie in Tarrytown and saw "The Russians are Coming."
We talked on the telephone and spent as much time together as we could, going to movies, eating out, and talking and kidding with each other. We were content just being together. He laughed a lot, and when I asked him why he was always laughing, he said he was happy. When it really hit me just how little time we had left to spend together, I offered to play hooky from work one day, and he invited me over to his parents' house in Newtown to spend the day with him. We talked and laid on the couch watching cartoons, and sometime during the day he gave me his 1st Infantry Division patch.
He had totaled his MBG-GT in an accident during the time he was home and had some stitches on the side of his forehead. So, that afternoon he drove my little Chevy Nova, and we went to Danbury Hospital so he could get the stitches out. Later in the day I met his folks and his sisters, Diane and Merry, and I stayed for dinner. Eric and I connected on a very deep, caring, and loving level during our time together.
The last night Eric and I were together was the Saturday night before he left for Vietnam. We had gone to a movie in Mt. Kisco and out to eat. It was difficult to know how to say goodbye when he took me home. There was still so much to say and do together, but he had to leave the next morning. He finally said, "I know we're not engaged, but I'd like to see you when I get out." I said I would be waiting for him, and I was. I was totally committed to him; heart and soul.
It was a month before I got my first of seven letters from Eric. It was five pages long. He confirmed his strong feelings for me and wrote, "If things work out, I'll see you in 365 days - short." Over the course of his time there, he wrote about his platoon leader getting shot down, Jeanne Dixon's predictions, his 4-year-old Vietnamese girlfriend, seeing his buddies getting killed, having to swim up out of 15 feet of water when his helicopter went down, visiting Saigon, saying how all of a sudden things got so old over there, suffering from dysentery, wanting to see a peaceful Vietnamese village someday, and other more personal things.
I asked him questions about shrapnel and the helicopters he was flying, and he sent me pieces of shrapnel and pictures of the helicopters. He informed me the P.F.P. he always put on his envelopes stood for "Pray for Peace". For my birthday in July, 1969, he sent me a painting he bought in Saigon of a Vietnam village, An Binh. I was ten months older than Eric, and he got a real kick out of saying that he was dating "an older woman". While in Vietnam, Eric wanted me to visit his parents, so he arranged with them to have me over for a visit. I went to their house and spent some quality time with them. They shared Eric's audiotapes with me. It was good to hear his voice. It was obvious to me from what he said that he cared greatly about his younger sisters. My last letter from Eric was dated in October, 1969.
I was in California visiting relatives for Thanksgiving when Mrs. Blantin called my parents and told them about Eric's death. (At some point I also received a letter from the Army.) My parents chose not to call me in California to tell me but waited until I came home. I got home from the airport late on that Saturday night after Thanksgiving and was looking forward to seeing if there was a letter from Eric. Instead, I was hit with the horrible news. I was devastated. I just never thought it would happen to him.
The funeral was the next Tuesday. Somehow I managed to drive over to Newtown for the funeral. I remember it was snowing that morning, and I could hardly see between the snow coming down and the fact I was crying so much. I also remember how disappointed I was to see that his casket was closed. I never got to see Eric again. The Blantins invited me to their house after the funeral, and I remember mustering up all of my courage in order to tell Mrs. Blantin that Eric was the nicest guy I had ever met. It was just so important to me that she knew how I felt about him.
I visited Eric's grave in 1972, and in July, 2001, I felt a need to once again pay my respects. I also felt I wanted to try to reconnect with Mr. and Mrs. Blantin if it was possible. (We were all getting older, and I guess I was lucky because both Mr. and Mrs. Blantin have since passed away.) I called Eric's folks to get directions to the cemetery as it had been a long time since I had been there. Mrs. Blantin answered but said her husband would be better at giving directions, so she handed the telephone over to him. Mr. Blantin got on the telephone, and I told him who I was and what I was calling about. He said, "Oh, the Smith girl. You were over here a couple of times." He said they would meet me at the cemetery. They did, and afterwards they invited me to their house for lunch.
They shared Eric's letters with me and other personal effects of his, and we talked. Mr. Blantin, for some reason and out of the blue, pointed out to me the exact spot I was sitting at their house after coming there after the funeral and said, "You were sitting right there". I was shocked that he would remember such a thing. In talking further with Mrs. Blantin, she finally said, "So, you were the last one to see Eric." I was, and I am glad I had that privilege.
So, that's the story of my relationship with Eric. Rather lengthy, but it's a relief to finally have a place to share it. Thank you for that. Eric was the most caring, loving young man I ever met, and he will forever hold a permanent and special place in my heart.
From his girlfriend,
04 Aug 2008
Well, Eric, it has been a couple of months since I got home from CT after visiting your sister Diane and her daughter, Erica, who was named after you. It was quite a reunion and one I will never forget. I had been planning to go east this spring to visit my Mom, old friends, and other relatives, and decided to write to Diane and see if she would be willing to visit with me about you and share stories, mementos, or any other things that she felt like sharing. She called me, and we talked for two hours. She said she was willing to get together and thought it was great. We both felt like you would have been pleased to know of our getting together, and we felt that we could and would have been "sisters".
Ironically, a few days before I sent Diane my letter, I received an e-mail from your niece, Erica (she was residing with her husband in England at the time), who found my memorial on this site. After some telephoning and further e-mailing, we set a date to meet. Diane offered to take me to and from the airport and invited me to stay at her house for a while, which I did.
I got to see many childhood photos of you, listen to the audiotapes you sent home from Vietnam (which I had heard when I visited your folks in 1969), read the letters you sent to your folks, Diane and Merry, and see other personal items of yours including your motorcycle jacket and your childhood teddy-bear. Hearing your voice and hearing you say my name on the audiotapes was a treasure. I also shared what memories and items I had. Although it was bittersweet, my visit helped fill in a lot of holes about your short life, and it was a great comfort to share my loss with your sister and niece.
I also visited your grave again and learned from Diane that your Dad had that big tree chopped down that had been by your headstone. I took a picture of your headstone with me squatting down in back of it as I did so many years ago in 1972. Your name was also added to the VFW Post No. 308 in Newtown.
I feel like my journey to honor and remember you has come full circle, and it was wonderful to meet Diane and Erica. Diane was very kind, generous, and open about sharing about you, and I cannot thank her enough. I was sorry, though, that I was not able to meet your other sister, Merry, who passed away this past October.
I will always love and miss having you in my life, Eric, but Diane, Erica, and the rest of their family have provided me with a connection and a kind of comfort I have always been longing for. Eric, you and your sacrifice will never be forgotten, and you will always remain in my heart.
(P.S. Thanks to all the people (Jim and Ken in particular) who keep this site going. Without you, Erica might not have found me, and it helped both Erica and Diane understand more fully my relationship with Eric. And, Diane clarified that in my last memorial it probably wasn't her Mother that called to tell me Eric had died but probably an Aunt. My Mom told me the woman that called didn't identify herself, and my Mom didn't ask who she was. This was the only thing I didn't have first-hand knowledge of, and I made an incorrect assumption.)
Donna M. Smith
GOD BLESS YOU, ERIC. This is your little cousin Billy. I know you are about 15 years older than me but I remember you. I remember sitting at the house on Aunt Park Lane with Uncle "Buddy" and Aunt Irene. We watched the movies you sent home from chopper school. I gave them my tape player so they could listen to the cassettes you sent home. I've grown up. I did my part in the cold war as a SSgt in the Air Force. I got out in 1988. I know I have missed a couple of years but I visit your grave every Memorial Day, place a little flag, salute, and then go down to the VFW they named after you, and have a drink with our brother Vets. This past year, 2007, was tough but nice. I know Uncle BUddy is resting next to you now so I can say hello to you both when I visit. I have written a song about you and, even if we never had the chance to really grow old and get to know each other, I'll always remember the day I was a little boy and stood there in the cold and heard the bugle play. Your forever in my heart. Your little cuz, Billy.
A Note from The Virtual WallTwo men were killed when OH-6A tail number 66-07776 exploded during preflight inspection at Vinh Long Airfield - pilot WO Eric G. Blantin and crew chief SP5 James M. Dale of Sedalia, Missouri. The cause of the explosion is not known.
The point-of-contact for this memorial is|
Donna M. Smith
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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 27 Aug 2007
Last updated 08/10/2008