EDWARD M. BLESSMAN, LT, USN
Edward Blessman '31
Date of birth: December 29, 1907
Date of death: February 4, 1942
From the 1931 Lucky Bag:
Blessman was born in Nott, North Dakota. He was appointed midshipman from the 9th District of Wisconsin on 21 June 1927 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy on 4 June 1931. Service at sea in the battleship Maryland (BB-46) and the destroyer Hale (DD-133) preceded flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola, in Florida, after which he served in VS-2B in the aircraft carrier Lexington (CV-2) and VP-17F, based on the seaplane tender Thrush (AVP-3). Following a two-year tour at the Naval Air Station Anacostia, Blessman — promoted to lieutenant in January 1939 — joined Marblehead (CL-12), then with the U.S. Asiatic Fleet, on 10 December 1939. He was still serving in her when Japan launched its onslaught in the Far East in December 1941.
On 4 February 1942, Marblehead stood out of Surabaya, Java, as part of a mixed American-Dutch cruiser-destroyer force under Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman, Royal Netherlands Navy. Japanese flying boats from the Toko Kōkūtai (Toko Air Group), however, spotted the force as it attempted to transit the Madoera Strait to attack the Japanese invasion fleet bound for Borneo. Thus forewarned, Japanese naval land attack planes bombed the allied force. At 10:27, a stick of seven bombs from a Mitsubishi G4M1 "Betty" bomber of Kanoya Kōkūtai straddled Marblehead. The first of the two bombs to hit the ship penetrated the main deck and exploded near "wardroom country," the blast ripping through the light sheet metal bulkheads that comprised the boundaries of the compartment. Blessman, who, as the ship’s senior aviator had no air defense station and was in the wardroom at the time, was killed instantly by the concussion.
USS Blessman (DE 69) was named for Edward; the ship was sponsored by his widow, Helen.