Blair, Nathaniel Irving
Blair, Nathaniel Irving
Nathaniel Irving Blair
Nathaniel Blair was born in Detroit on April 15, 1915. He has a degree in Forestry from Michigan State University. Before the war, Nathaniel was a parts inspector at a machine shop and had two children. He was commissioned in the U.S. Navy on March 28, 1944. After basic training in New York, Nathaniel signed up for P.T. Boat training. Three months of training in the Atlantic involved notable exercises with destroyers. Afterwards, he reported to San Francisco, assigned to Round 24, and shipped out to the Philippines. They pulled into Leyte Gulf near Samar. His P.T. Boat was heavily armed with guns on the deck, and never once fired a torpedo or sank a Japanese vessel. Most patrols were done at night. During the invasion of Zamboanga, his ship patrolled around the invasion area, but never fired upon the enemy. After the P.T. base at Caldera Point was destroyed, a converted tender aided them for about four days until another Navy tender could arrive. Nathaniel remembers a trip past the island of Bongo. Despite being at least a mile out, their boat came under fire. A man in the turret was hit in the neck by shrapnel, the only casualty his boat ever took. The boat was damaged and had to be towed back to the tender. Two other boats in their squadron had been lost. One was destroyed in a radar check. These involved passing the shore while idle, or quiet. If the enemy shot at you, then they had radar. This ship took so much fire during a check that it was split in half. The boat took at least four casualties, including a man who had only been in the Philippines for a month. Nathaniel's squadron destroyed enemy objects such as oil tanks and docks. He remembers a lot of trouble around Jolo. The Moros tribe supplied information to the Americans. Nathaniel received a ribbon with a star for serving in the Philippines, a ribbon for serving in the Pacific, and a ribbon for the victory. He received $165 a month, $150 of which he sent straight home. Nathaniel went into inactive reserve on April 8, 1946. He worked for the City of Detroit's Parks and Recreation service until retiring in 1973.
Dates of Service
Enlisted; United States Navy; Patrol Boat (PT Boat); World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - Pacific Theater; Lieutenant Junior Grade
Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress
Second World War - Pacific Theater