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Blaine is home

Carefree’s veterans, council, citizens and CSHS students participated in a wonderful ceremony on Veteran’s day in the Carefree amphitheater. My friend, Blaine Keith read the Pledge of Allegiance to the audience. Carefree Councilman John Crane read a summary of Blaine’s career. Blaine has been mentioned in this newspaper countless times and is incredible. He has led an unbelievable life and is a national treasure.

Blaine has been in three places following the sale of his house and as you will see later, he is returning home, to Carefree.
Carefree Councilman John Crane read this forward before Blaine led the pledge.

“We have a special guest who will lead us in the pledge of allegiance.

“He started out in an early generation single wing plane and ended up somewhere in space.

“Our special guest is Col. Blaine Keith, United States Marine Corps, Retired.

“But first I’d like to share Blaine’s amazing story.

11-19-14 cartoon
“Blaine Keith’s flying career began in rural Pennsylvania in 1935 with his Uncle Easy delivering US mail in the "Norseman", a high wing, single engine aircraft modified to an airmail plane built by Nordian Aircraft Co. of Canada." His great uncle designed, built and tested that airplane and he taught Blaine to fly it. Blaine took the controls at 10 and made his first solo flight at 12.
“At 17, in 1942 Blaine embarked upon a 38 year career with the U.S. Marine Corps.
“Before the year was over, Blaine earned his silver wings and 6 sergeant stripes and was flying a Grumman Wildcat aircraft in Guadalcanal for legendary Joe Foss. In Guadalcanal, Blaine earned his first Bronze Star followed by a Silver Star. The Silver Star was presented by Admiral William Halsey, Commander of the Pacific Fleet.

“Blaine’s World War II career includes not only action in Guadalcanal, but Tinian Island, Bougainville, Saipan, Iwo-Jima and Okinawa.

“After the war Blaine graduated from the War College and returned to combat flying Grumman Panther jets in Korea, earning his Second Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He was also awarded 23 lesser medals during his career.

“Korea was followed by several years working undercover for the Marines, North American Aviation, and NASA designing and test piloting aircraft and rocket planes.

“During this time, while strapped in the first X-1 Experimental Vehicle powered by a rocket, Blaine accidentally became the first American in space. For this he received the “Silver Astronaut Award.” Blaine then went on to play an instrumental role in developing the landing systems for the Apollo space program and the Space Shuttle. As a Senior Test Pilot, Blaine flew the first Boeing 747 flight on which the Space Shuttle was piggy-backed and went on to pilot that 747 three more times and landed the Space Shuttle off the back of the 747 three times.
“After 38 years, Blaine retired from the Marine Corps and went on to head The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company’s Western Region.

“In about 1990, Blaine and his wife, Martha, moved to Carefree, where he’s been active and a great, contributing citizen in our town ever since.

“We are honored to have with us today, a legend in his own right, Col. Blaine Keith.”
How about that for a true American hero?

Blaine is currently living in the Lovin Manor on 76th Street east of Dixileta. He waited for a place to open up in Carefree and followed the evolution of Dream Street Residence, a 10 room complex built for people needing assisted living and direct care.

The assisted living Manager of Dream Street Residence is Cheryl Petruce-Garcia. Cheryl has thirty years of experience as a nurse caregiver and has become known for skilled care giving for her clients.

The phone number for Dream Street Residence is 480-664-7566 and their fax number is 480-664-7195. The address is 37412 N. Dream Street. Their mailing address is P.O. Box 2800-395, Carefree AZ, 85377.

They opened the center on Tuesday, Nov. 18, so Blaine is already ensconced there and I know how happy he is to be back home in Carefree.

Although it would take a book to extol his heroism for our country, John Crane’s summary of Blaine’s career was excellent. I am proud that Blaine calls me his son and I call him my Dad even though we are separated by only six years. When asked about the impossibility of our claim, Blaine’s answer is, “That is the way it is.”

During his tour with Joe Foss at age 17, they called him “the kid.” He didn’t care for the name but after he destroyed landing craft and enemy camps flying low level, they named him “Killer.” He liked that less and was sure his Grandfather who raised him would turn over in his grave because he raised Blaine as a Christian. That is a major reason why he is reluctant to discuss his war experiences.

He is a practicing Christian and goes to Bible study when health allows it at the Presbyterian Church near the Boulders. He also is a Mason with 50 years of membership. Now you have his new address so you can send letters and/or cards welcoming him home.