Robert James "Bob" Blair
by Laurie Isabella Blair
Severson Crew, Dad's Gang
My dad, Robert James Blair, is a veteran of the 513th Squadron and a member of the Elvin Severson crew (see photo, Dad's the good-looking guy in the back row not wearing his hat). Recently, Captain Severson's niece wrote in looking for information about her uncle and noted that his plane had been shot down. My dad was on that mission, and remembers it well. He was not one to hold back stories of being in the war, unlike many other veterans. (The only thing he hates talking about is how badly he wanted to be a pilot himself, and how that didn't work out.) It is no mystery that Dad would join this branch of the service when war came to America; he was always fascinated with kites and toy airplanes, carved wooden propellers to stick in the ground, and as a child climbed and jumped off roofs to see if he could land safely (he always did).
Dad was a small-town New England boy, graduating high school in 1940, strong and intelligent, just the type the war effort was looking for. (However, he's so irreverent I often wonder how he ever took orders!)
Just prior to his appointment as Staff Sargent Dad was honorably discharged, and married my mom in 1943. They had two kids, my brother in 1951 and me in 1956. Dad became a car salesman and then a real estate broker before a 22-year (11 term) career in politics as First Selectman (mayor) of our town. After retiring for a year or so, he got bored and went back to work for another 22 years as a shipping/receiving and inventory person for a small family-run company right in town. He retired for a second time at age 91! He is now almost 95, completely "with it," just as funny as ever, and lives alone since we lost my beloved mom last fall (he kept her home until she was 90 -- talk about the Greatest Generation). He has two grandsons and a great-grandson, and we love spending time with him. He's relatively healthy and I'll ask him more about his Air Corps time soon so I can relay it in proper chronological order and get the places correct.
He was my first love, of course, and will always be my hero, as are you all.