Marine corporal's heroic action saved lives in combat During Korean War
On Nov. 27, 1950, during the Korean War, Corporal Richard J. Blasinski saved many lives. He was awarded the Silver Star, but was never formally recognized before his passing in 1991.
Exactly 63 years later, Congressman Brian Higgins held a ceremony on Grand Island to pay tribute to Blasinski's lifesaving actions when his country needed him the most.
"Corporal Blasinski demonstrated selfless leadership and bravery," Higgins said Wednesday. "So many veterans never seek recognition but it is important for us, as a nation, to never forget their sacrifices. We are honored to join the Blasinski family in remembering his service."
Town of Grand Island Supervisor Mary Cooke added, "Corporal Blasinski's heroic actions 63 years ago saved lives and made a big difference in the outcome of the Wonsan-Hungnam-Chosin Battle in North Korea. Grand Island welcomes the opportunity to host the presentation of the Silver Star and several other medals and ribbons to Corporal Blasinski's family by Congressman Higgins. We can never forget the sacrifice and courage of our brave military service members."
"It's always an honor and a pleasure to recognize veterans who enable us today to live in a country such as ours," said Assemblyman John Ceretto. "Freedoms do not come easily and we all owe a great debt of gratitude to our veterans."
"Corporal Richard Blasinski is truly worthy of this recognition," said State Sen. Mark Grisanti, member of the Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee. "All military veterans deserve our admiration and respect and should be recognized. I urge our citizenry to always remember all of the men and women who fought bravely to keep our nation free from tyranny. We will never forget the sacrifices that Richard made, and I am truly honored to join the Blasinski family in remembering him for his service to his country."
Blasinski was born in 1929 to Joseph Blasinski and Anna Szymanski. His father came to Buffalo from Poland at the age of 17 and grew up in Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood. Richard was raised in the Kenmore.
He joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1946. Two years later, at the age of 19, he was transferred to the U.S. Marine Corps.
Blasinski was a member of the "Chosin Few" or the "Frozen Chosin," names given to the Marines who fought in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. During this battle, the Marines were confronted with the most extreme conditions. Enemy forces significantly outnumbered them, it was one of the coldest winters ever recorded in North Korea, and they were fighting on one of the roughest terrains. Blasinski was a member of Company H, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Regiment. Despite extreme conditions, Blasinski rose to the challenge. On the very first day of the battle, Nov. 27, he went above and beyond the call of duty.
The citation for his Silver Star reads:
"The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Corporal Richard J. Blasinski (MCSN: 1071442), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while serving with Company H, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), during action against enemy aggressor forces in Korea on 27 November 1950. When his unit was attacked and overrun by a numerically superior hostile force, Corporal Blasinski quickly reorganized his squad and deployed them to localize the enemy penetration. Moving from end to end of his unit, he placed the men in advantageous firing positions, ignoring the heavy enemy fire directed on the area. Courageously remaining in an exposed position, he competently and effectively supervised return fire which directly aided the company in halting the hostile advance. During the brief respite which followed, he evacuated his wounded and, on his own initiative, skillfully improved his defenses. When the enemy attacked again, he boldly led his men through intense small arms, machine gun and grenade fire, engaging the hostile troops in fierce hand-to-hand combat, dislodging the enemy from their well-entrenched positions and securing the flank. Covering the reorganization of the company, he successfully warded off hostile probes until the remainder of the unit was in position. By his aggressive determination, outstanding leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of heavy enemy opposition, Corporal Blasinski upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
In addition to his participation in the Wonsan-Hungnam-Chosin campaign in North Korea, Blasinski took part in the capture and securing of Seoul Korea and he saw action against enemy forces in South and Central Korea.
Blasinski was discharged July 15, 1952. He then transferred USMC Reserves where he served the remainder of his military career and also worked at Wickwire Steel Company and General Motors.
To honor Blasinski, Higgins presented his family with the Silver Star Medal, Combat Action Ribbon (Korea), Presidential Unit Citation with one bronze star, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal with Europe clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Service Medal with three bronze campaign stars, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, United National Service Medal, Republic of Korea War Service Medal and Cold War Certificate. The Silver Star is one of the highest military decorations for valor that can be awarded to a person serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Higgins presented the medals at Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial VFW Post No. 9249, which is named after Private First Class Charles N. DeGlopper, a Grand Island native who posthumously received the Medal of Honor, which is the highest award of the U.S. military. DeGlopper received the award for his sacrifice and heroism while serving in the U.S. Army during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II.
Blasinski's daughter, Carol Blasinski-Rhonemus, is a member of the Ladies Auxiliary at the VFW Post on Grand Island.