Lieutenant Colonel Paul A. Bloomquist, Deceased
Throughout his short, but brilliant career, LTC Paul A. Bloomquist represented the very highest traditions of Army Aviation and strongly promoted the DUSTOFF spirit. Graduating from the Helicopter Officer’s Course in 1954, his initial assignment was with the 54th Medical Detachment (Helicopter Ambulance) in South Korea.
After he returned to the U.S., his keen aviator skills were called on during a massive snowstorm that blanketed much of the northeast, in the winter of 1958. Flying a UH-19 helicopter in extremely hazardous conditions, Lieutenant Bloomquist logged 55 rescue missions and made 62 drops of food, medicine, and emergency supplies to travelers, farmers, and villagers cut off by the heavy snow and earned his first DFC.
It was during his initial tour in Vietnam that CPT Bloomquist distinguished himself as one of the Army’s finest military officers and premier aviators. He kept extending his stay incountry, and during 21 months of daily combat flying, was cited for heroism several times. Among his four Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Bronze Star, three Purple Hearts, thirty-six Air Medal citations, one of his DFC actions exemplifies the kind of courageous and dedicated pilot he had become.
On 21 June 1964, Bloomquist’s helicopter was struck by enemy fire that wounded him. He disregarded his own wounds and continued flying the remainder of the day and well into the night, logging nearly 13 hours of flight time until all of the casualties were evacuated. Only then, did he seek care for his own wounds. Experienced and blooded, Paul Bloomquist was the personification of charisma. A proud and almost defiant man by nature, he served as an outstanding role model for the younger pilots in his unit. Captain Bloomquist never refused a mission despite the enemy situation or bad weather and he seemed to be at his happiest when flying the most difficult missions. Because of his heroic service in Vietnam, Captain Bloomquist was selected as the AAAA’s “Army Aviator of the Year” in 1964.
Major Bloomquist returned to Vietnam in April of 1967 where he continued his “mission first” attitude. His knowledge of combat flying and leadership skills proved especially valuable during the “TET of 1968” when thousands of American and Vietnamese servicemen and civilians were wounded or killed.
After promotion to Lieutenant Colonel, he was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division in Germany during a particularly difficult time in our nation’s history with rampant drug, social, and racial problems in the ranks. LTC Bloomquist attacked these issues head on and was able to quickly channel his soldiers’ energies toward productive goals and maintain a high state of unit readiness.
On 11 May 1972, after spending his normal long day at the office, he walked across the street from the headquarters building to the Officers Club to exchange dollars in order to take his wife to dinner. As he started up the stairs to the Club, a series of three violent explosions occurred, killing him instantly. The terrorist group Baader-Meinhof gang, claimed responsibility.
Although his career ended far too early, he left behind a proud legacy of dedication, excellence, and unmatched courage for all Army aviators and crews to follow. He is a DUSTOFF hero and exemplar who made outstanding and enduring contributions to Army Aviation through his actions and selfless service.