NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. (WTRF) – World War II veteran and hospital corpsman Ernest Blatt enlisted in the Navy right out of high school in September of 1939.
What he thought would take him to sea, took him somewhere more dangerous.
His job was to save his comrades, but he narrowly escaped life-threatening situations himself many times.
I was called every night someplace almost. I don’t think I hardly ever missed a night that I wasn’t called out someplace.Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
Ernest Blatt went to boot camp in Norfolk, Virginia and then hospital corps school. After he graduated, he was sent many places like Massachusetts, Quantico, Virginia, Paris Island, Camp Lejeune, and Cuba.
During that time he was a proud member of the First Marine Division Football Team.
Many times in Blatt’s service, he was called to save others.
That was especially true during the months he spent in Guadalcanal. However, his life was in danger from the moment his ship neared the island to deploy its troops.
We was supposed to went out on the third wave, and about the time the first was going, a plane came over and hit our ship. It was sinking, so we went in with a wing and a prayer. We got ashore and set up. They said to dig in the ground, you know a fox hole. The next morning we had that coconut grove, the sand was a bunch of splinters. They just completely demolished it.Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
The Marines he was stationed with went all over the island, and so did he.
Whether it was night time or daytime, he sometimes found himself alone, waiting on orders.
I was all by myself. At about 2:00 in the morning I got a call and he said unhook the phone and come back down where we’re at. He says I think everything’s ok. In the meantime that night, I suppose while I was there I don’t know, the Japanese had come in and set up right on the bank, not 50 feet away, had set up a machine gun nest.Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
Blatt’s mission was to help get wounded men to treatment.
Our jobs was when you get a bunch of people like that, say 20 or 30 wounded, my job was to tag them the worst ones to send back first.Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
Which often put him in peril, sometimes unarmed and vulnerable.
We was taking this guy down, and he was wounded pretty bad, on a stretcher, right on that point and a sniper cut loose at us. We run and got over this hollow and it was kind of evening. It was getting dark and I laid there in the dark and then I sneaked down by the road. I don’t know what happened to none of them. I never seen the guy after that and the guy on the stretcher run faster than everybody else I think and he was wounded.”Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
The danger was great and his stories are many, but Blatt survived, making it out of the country.
Out of the nine corpsman in Guadalcanal, I was the only one made it back to Australia.Ernest Blatt, World War II Veteran
After being in the Pacific, Blatt was sent to Australia, where he had to care for many soldiers who had malaria.
He also spent time in New Guinea and British Columbia, which is where he was when he was ordered back to the states in late 1943.
Blatt was finally discharged in December of 1945.
He celebrated his 100th birthday with his wife, family, and friends this past October.
- Struggling in silence no more: Nonprofit assisting the area’s elderly veterans
- Veterans’ Voices: West Virginia Vietnam Veteran explores PTSD in second novel
- Veterans Voices: Navy sailor creates nonprofit to bring joy to active duty service members
- Not ‘I’ but ‘we’: The key to victory for one World War II veteran
- ‘Lead from the front’: Vietnam combat veteran shares lessons in leadership