Pararescueman experiences brother's occupation

  • Published
  • By Frank McIntyre
  • Public Affairs
Usually the graduating student pilots at Vance AFB are the ones receiving special treatment in recognition of their accomplishments. This week a member of Joint Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 04-13 turned the tables and rewarded his brother who came to Oklahoma for the graduation ceremony.
2nd Lt Wayne Blom arranged for his younger brother (by 14 months) to receive an incentive ride in a T-38. But this wasn't just an occasion of doing a brotherly favor. There was a special reason Lieutenant Blom wanted his brother to fly in a jet.
TSgt Erik Blom has more than a brotherly bond to pilots. He is an active - duty pararescueman with the 103rd Rescue Squadron at Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
"Erik has always done search and rescue for pilots, but has never had an incentive ride," Lieutenant Blom said. "This was a great opportunity for him to see what goes on inside the cockpit."
"I think the biggest difference was landing in the aircraft I took off in," Sergeant Blom said. "Usually I go to work by jumping out somewhere along the way."
One of those times he jumped out, the work he did earned him a recommendation for the Bronze Star with Valor.
It was during his deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on one of his 29 combat sorties when he became engaged in ground rescue and recovery of Greyhound 25. The Army CH-47 helicopter and its 30 American soldiers were downed by enemy fire in a remote field outside of Fallujah, Iraq.
The award citation said "Sergeant Blom administered aid under hostile conditions with enemy forces close to the crash site and under ever-present threat of additional fire. He rendered assistance where needed, employed the 'jaws of life,' breeching tools and bolt cutters to assist in gaining access to those still trapped or killed during impact.
"Despite the exposure to extreme personal dangers from an unsafe scene containing potentially life threatening unexploded ordnance, jet fuels and a hostile threat, Sergeant Blom was able to re-enter the aircraft numerous times to assist in extraction and patient removal duties, directly resulting in two lives saved and the recovery of four soldiers killed in action."
Capt Derek Marvel, 25th Flying Training Squadron, was the instructor pilot providing the incentive flight.
"It was awesome to be able to give Sergeant Blom recognition for his heroic action," Captain Marvel said. "But equally rewarding was the interaction from another point of view. I'm glad the 25th had an opportunity to show why our motto is 'The Combat Air Forces Start Here"
And thanks to Sergeant Blom, the 25th got a glimpse of one who embodies the pararescueman's motto "these things we do that others may live."