Colonel Robert Emmett "Bob" Blaschke

Obituary
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Age 90, died April 26, 2013 at Lompoc Valley Medical Center following a brief illness. He was the son of Alvin and Muriel Blaschke of Middleton, Wisconsin.

Bob was born in Hastings, Nebraska on August 13, 1922. He grew up in Coon Rapids, Iowa and attended schools there, graduating from high school in 1940. His parents then moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where Bob entered the University of Oklahoma in the Fall of 1940.

In October 1942, Bob became an aviation cadet in the United States Army Air Corps, and entered primary pilot training at Cimarron Field near Yukon, Oklahoma. During this time he met his future wife, Patricia Belle Cone, from Yukon, at a Cimarron Field Friday night dance. Bob was transferred to Brownsville Army Airfield, Texas in early 1943 for advanced pilot training. Bob and Pat were married in Brownsville in April 1943 shortly after Bob received his wings and commission in the Army Air Corps.

In June 1943, Bob was stationed in the Mediterranean, primarily in North Africa and the Middle East, flying the C-47. He routinely flew between Casablanca, Algiers, Cairo, Italy, and Southern France. In the Fall of 1944, he returned to the states for training to fly the C-54 cargo transport at Great Falls AAB, Montana. He then was stationed in the Western Pacific flying the C-54 between Guam, Philippines, and Okinawa. After the war ended in 1945, Bob rejoined his family and was stationed at Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base until 1947.

In 1947 Bob returned to civilian life, briefly. Bob and family moved back to Norman, Oklahoma so that Bob could finish his studies at OU. He received his bachelor's degree in statistics in August 1948. In November 1948, he was recalled to active duty in the United States Air Force to fly in the Berlin Airlift. Bob flew over 150 successful C-54 missions as aircraft commander from November 1948 until the Berlin Airlift ended in September 1949. Bob and family were stationed at Wiesbaden Air Force Base, Germany during the airlift.

Bob and family returned to the United States in 1951 when he entered training to fly the Boeing B-47. After training Bob and family were stationed at March AFB in 1953, where he was assigned to the 22nd Bombardment Wing. It was at March AFB where Bob began a long career with the Strategic Air Command (SAC). He was rated as a command pilot, and instructor, in the B-47, and logged over 1500 hours in the aircraft from 1951 to 1956.

In the Fall of 1956, now with six children and a wife, Bob decided that it was time to turn in his wings and pursue other AF opportunities that would allow him to spend more time at home with his family. Bob applied for, and was accepted, to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio to study Electrical Engineering.

In August 1958, after successfully completing his AFIT program, Bob received orders to transfer to Cooke AFB, to join the newly formed 576th Strategic Missile Squadron. The 576th SMS was the first Atlas ICBM squadron in SAC, and Bob was one of the first Atlas launch control officers when the Atlas was placed on alert in 1959. In 1960, he became the Atlas Program Manager for the 1st Strategic Aerospace Division (1STRAD). In 1962, Bob was assigned as the 1STRAD Missile Instrumentation Manager for all SAC launches at Vandenberg AFB. In his last two years of active duty, he was responsible for the transfer of the Western Test Range from the Navy to the Air Force, and the establishment of the early communications and tracking networks used by the WTR to support the growing number of ICBM and satellite space launches from VAFB. Bob retired from the Air Force as a Colonel, in June 1966, after 23 years of service. During his active duty service he was awarded with the Air Force Master Pilot and Master Missileman Badges.

Two years after retiring from the Air Force, in June 1968, Bob started a second career at VAFB with Civil Service. He was initially assigned as Chief of the Data Management Center for the Western Test Range. In this assignment he was responsible for developing policies and procedures for the handling and distribution of the rapidly increasing amount of missile launch telemetry data for the WTR users. In 1984, Bob was appointed Forecast Branch Chief, where he was responsible for the planning, coordinating, and prioritizing of missile launch and aircraft tests on the WTR. In 1989, Bob was promoted to the position of Supervisor of the Range Scheduling Division for the Western Space and Missile Center, which later became the 30th Space Wing at VAFB. Bob retired from Civil Service in June 1992, after 24 years of service.

After his retirement Bob enjoyed his many hobbies: golf at the Marshallia Ranch course, electronic construction and audio hi-fi, amateur radio (FCC license WB6UBQ), and volunteering at his church (Queen of Angels) where his family were parishioners since moving to Vandenberg Village in 1966. Bob and Pat also enjoyed traveling, and took several trips to Europe after retirement.

Bob and Pat most enjoyed spending time with their family, and they enjoyed large family reunions at every opportunity: 50th anniversary in 1993, 60th in 2003, and 65th in 2008. Bob and Pat had just celebrated their 70th anniversary on April 10, 2013 before he fell ill and passed away on April 26, 2013.

He is survived by his wife of 70 years Patricia B. Blaschke, his children: Robert E. Blaschke, Jr. of Springfield, VA, Donald D. Blaschke of Lompoc, Janet L. Berry of Niceville, FL, Sister Susan Blaschke of Chatsworth, Thomas J. Blaschke of Westlake Village, Carol A. Blaschke of Silver Spring, MD, James A. Blaschke of Santa Maria, and Edward A. Blaschke of Santa Barbara, fifteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

An evening vigil with recitation of the Holy Rosary was observed on Tuesday, April 30th, and the celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial was held on Wednesday, May 1, at 10:00 AM, at Queen of Angels Church in Lompoc. The pallbearers were Bob's five sons, Robert Jr., Donald, Thomas, James, Edward, and grandson Benjamin. The burial service was held at Lompoc Evergreen Cemetery, under the direction of Fr. Gerald Barron, with a USAF Honor Guard unit from Vandenberg AFB present.


Published in The Santa Barbara News-Press Online Edition from Oct. 6 to Oct. 10, 2013
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