Northern Territory Government

Roll of Honour

BLAIR, Eugene

USS William B Preston
Starboard view of the USS William B. Preston.

Eugene Blair, Chief Machinist’s Mate (265 57 52) was born in Tremont, Virginia, on 26 April 1908. He was the middle child of three sons and two daughters born to Dakota and Maggie Blair of Dickenson, Virginia. He enlisted in the Navy in Richmond, Virginia, on 23 November 1929. Blair served on four ships during his first two-year enlistment: the destroyer tenders Dobbin and Whitney, and the destroyers Preston and Leary. Blair was discharged at the Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, on 8 December 1936.

Blair re-enlisted on 3 January 1940 in Boston and, following service at the New York receiving station, joined the seaplane tender William B. Preston on 14 June 1940. The Preston was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet in December 1940. Blair was on the seaplane tender in Malolog Bay in the Philippines when the Japanese attacked American ships there on the morning of 8 December 1941.
Early in the raid on 19 February 1942, the William B. Preston got underway and headed for the open sea. Blair, a member of the After Repair party, went below in company with Metalsmith 2nd Class LeRay Wilson, to close hatches and watertight doors. Soon after they finished their task, a bomb struck the ship in the compartment in which they were standing, killing both instantly. Their efficient performance of duty, however, limited the flooding suffered by the warship to two compartments. Each man received a Silver Star posthumously and both had ships named after them. The USS Blair (DE-147) was launched on 6 April 1943.

Blair was survived by his wife Murial Agnes Blair of 59 Evergreen Street, Providence, Rhode Island.

Can you tell us more about this person? Please contact us.