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Blonder was trained as a Forward Observer. He began his military career in 1939. He was required to complete ROTC [Annotator’s Note: Reserve Officers' Training Corps] during his freshman and sophomore years of college. He transferred to Ohio State during his sophomore year. He decided to take Advanced ROTC because the war in Europe had already started; he thought it was only a matter of time before the US would be involved in the war. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Blonder and his friends tried to enlist, but because they were in ROTC the Army told them to finish school and graduate.Blonder graduated in early 1943 and attended OCS [Annotator's note: Officer Candidate School] in Oklahoma. He received a commission as a second lieutenant in June of 1943. He was transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina to the replacement depot. During his time at Fort Bragg, he taught basic training to new recruits. He was then sent to Alabama and assigned to the 35th Infantry Division. The division was made up of men from Kansas and Missouri. General Truman, commander of the division, told Blonder that he would not advance because he was from Ohio. He immediately applied for a transfer. He did not receive a transfer until March of 1944.Blonder was sent to Fort Meade, Maryland as a replacement and then deployed overseas. He went over on the USS Emma Ward. They had no idea where they were going, but realized they were headed to Italy when they passed through Gibraltar. When he arrived in Italy, he was sent to a replacement depot in Santa Maria Enfanta. From there he was assigned to the 36th Infantry Division. He joined the 131st Field Artillery Battalion as a Forward Observer.In August of 1944, Blonder landed in southern France. The men thought they were going to face the same problems as D-Day [Annotator’s Note: Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944], but they secured the beach within three days. They marched up the Route of Napoleon to Montélimar, where they engaged Germa forces from the south of France. This was Blonder's first experience in combat. They defeated the German forces, but some of the German soldiers escaped, they fought them later in the north.The French civilians loved the Allied troops. They would cheer them on when they marched into town, gave them food and flowers, and the women would kiss the soldiers. They moved further north into France and joined with the Third Army to cross the Moselle River on 21 September 1944. Blonder recalls that this was the most difficult part up to that point because the German resistance was strong. They had a French guide who led them across the river on foot. They crossed the river that morning at Saint Nabord.Blonder remembers the 442nd Combat Team joining the 36th Division at that time. The 442nd was given the task of taking the town of Brea, a very tough battle for them. This allowed the 141st to move into the Vosges Mountains. They were told to move into the mountains, head east, and take the bluffs overlooking La Houssiere. Blonder was in a recon force of 270 men. They met a lot of German resistance. When they reached Foret Domaniale de Champ that night they realized they were cut off from battalion headquarters. Blonder had the only radio. There were four officers in the recon force including Blonder. The others were Marty Higgins, Joe Kimball, and Harry Hoopers.They tried to setup good defenses and dug foxholes all night. Their biggest concern was tree bursts from German artillery. The Germans attacked the next morning, but retreated when they saw the amount of machine guns Blonder's men had. The Germans continued to attack every morning, but never tried to overtake them. 

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Blonder remembers Marty Higgins sent a sergeant and 35 men back to battalion headquarters for supplies and to see if they were truly cut off. Only one man made it back, he does not know what happened to the rest. They had only one day of K rations and their canteens of water. Blonder radioed headquarters for help, they were told to stay where they were, help would come to them. They refused to move. The 142nd and 143rd infantry regiments tried to break through the German lines, but could not. The 442nd [Annotator’s Note: 442nd Regimental Combat Team] finally made it through the lines after intense resistance and many casualties.Blonder and his men had no idea what was going on at that point. They were still under German fire and tree bursts. Blonder made his radio battery last six days instead of two. The division loaded shells with supplies and shot them towards Blonder's position. It did not work well. The weather was terrible, rainy and cold. On the fifth day, the 405th Fighter Squadron dropped tanks filled with food on their position, only two tanks hit them, the others hit the Germans.The conditions were horrible. One third of the men developed trench foot, including Blonder, who could not walk by the third day. The 442nd made it through the lines on the seventh day. They treated Blonder very well, he was carried off the battle field and taken to a field hospital. His feet were so badly injured the doctors had to cut his shoes off. A doctor and surgeon examined him, the surgeon said to amputate, the doctor said no and was able to save his feet. He was sent to a general hospital and recovered there for three weeks. They sent him by train to Marseille, before returning back to the states. Blonder landed in Boston on Christmas Eve of 1944.

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Blonder was sent to a hospital in Illinois for his trench foot. He remembers another incident regarding his trench foot while he was still in Europe. While riding in an ambulance from the field to the general hospital, his ambulance was stopped by a four star general. The general asked Blonder what happened and was yelled at for not keeping his feet dry. That general was General George Patton. He recalls the actions of the 442nd [Annotator’s Note: 442nd Regimental Combat Team] and their history. The 442nd was made up of Japanese Americans that were sent to internment camps after Pearl Harbor was attacked. They trained at Camp Shelby.Blonder met the 442nd for the first time at Fort Patrick Henry when he broke up a fight between the Japanese and American soldiers. The 442nd was sent to Italy and given the worst jobs. Blonder feels that every man in the 442nd deserved the Medal of Honor for their service and they were the most loyal and dedicated Americans. Their motto was "Go for broke." They were the most decorated outfit in the Army. Blonder says he would not be here today if it weren't for the 442nd. The Army did not treat the men in 442nd fairly. Blonder reads a letter from a Japanese American that served in the 442nd to the interviewer.Blonder was not able to walk on his own until 15 March of 1945. His case of trench foot was that bad. His feet have never properly healed.

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Blonder recalls the tactics that the Germans used in France. They would use small scale hit and run tactics. They could run in and out the wooded areas fairly easily. The only advantage that Blonder and his men had was being stationary; they could see the Germans coming. The Germans launched small attacks against the 141st [Annotator’s Note: 141st Infantry Regiment] for days, but only attempted a full scale attack on the last day. Blonder states the only reason they survived was because of the spirit and enthusiasm of Marty Higgins. Marty was captured a week later and possibly interrogated by Heinrich Himmler.Blonder recalls his time in Italy before he fought in combat in France. He was in Italy, just south of Naples, for a week before going to France. He had no idea what to expect. He wrote his brother a letter after he crossed the Moselle River. He reads the letter to the interviewer. In the letter, he talks about what happened after he crossed the river, dealing with German soldiers and civilians, alive and dead, and German sniper fire. This letter was included in Letters of a Nation. Blonder's time of service did not affect his career plans after the war; he went into his family's business.

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Blonder feels that it is very important to have a museum that preserves the history of the war, like the World War II Museum. The only way for people to understand what happened is by going to a museum. Museums should also critique and analyze the war and include the regular soldier, the GI, in its history. He says that the museum should give more recognition to the 442nd [Annotator’s Note: 442nd Regimental Combat Team].[Annotator’s Note: break in tape]Blonder recalls the events that led up t their advance through the Vosges Mountains. The 36th, 45th, and 3rd Infantry Divisions invaded southern France to meet with Patton's army in the north of France. Everything went smoothly until they reached the Moselle River. They were tasked with finding a path through the mountains, but they were eventually surrounded. They had some fire fights on their way up the mountain. Blonder was with the 141st Infantry Battalion [Annotator’s Note: 141st Infantry Regiment], 36th Division, he was a forwar observer. It was composed of Companies A, B, and C. [Annotator’s Note: Blonder begins to repeat himself].

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Blonder remembers the events of the "Lost Battalion" [Annotator’s Note: 1st Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division] in the Vosges Mountains. They were completely surrounded and trapped by the Germans, who were given orders to capture and annihilate all American soldiers. The men talked about a lot of different things, particularly food. They had a small water source. Everyone cooperated with one another. Blonder recalls much of the same information present in the previous segments, including the deplorable conditions they were in, his injuries, hospital stays, going back to the states.Blonder's time of service was something he would never want to go through again, but an experience that he thankfully survived. It taught him how precious life is. He is thankful for the friends he made. He became good friends with Marty Higgins, he could not find him after the war. He met new friends through reunions, American and Japanese.

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In later years, Blonder met some of the Medal of Honor recipients from the 36th [Annotator’s Note: 36th Infantry Division] and 442nd [Annotator’s Note: 442nd Regimental Combat Team]. He found out why the Japanese Americans were never given the Medal of Honor until 1998. When soldiers received the Medal of Honor in combat, they were taken off the front line and sent back to the states to sell war bonds. The government did not want any Japanese Americans selling war bonds. He remembers the brav efforts of the 442nd. They had casualties in the Vosges and many men were wounded. A lot of the men suffered from trench foot. They could hear fighting just before the 442nd broke through the German lines. They had no idea who was coming to rescue them. There are two monuments to the 442nd. Blonder only suffered from trench foot, he was not wounded like some of the other men. He could not walk at all until February/ March of 1945.

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Blonder had no idea who was trying to rescue them, but as soon as the 442nd [Annotator’s Note: 442nd Regimental Combat Team] broke the lines, Blonder knew it was them. They moved them off of the battle field quickly. He now has all of the messages he sent in code, the Army finally released the records. The enlisted men responded well to the officers, they cooperated and shared ideas with the officers. The enlisted men were the ones getting the water from the same source as the Germans. Blonder and the other officers decided to stay where they were because they refused to leave the wounded men behind. Because they would not leave, many of the men in the 442nd would have survived.

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