CALHOUN, GA, USA U.S. Army 1SG, COMPANY A, 1ST BATTALION, 121ST INFANTRY, LAWRENCEVILLE, GA MADO ZAYI, AFGHANISTAN 06/20/2009
First Sgt. John David Blair was born October 9, 1970. He graduated from Cumberland High School in Harlan County, Kentucky, in 1990. Many years later, after moving to Georgia, the National Guardsman was a stepfather of two and a devoted grandfather.
After his tour in Iraq, “Gooch” planned to dig out a lake for catfish on his property back in Georgia so he could take his grandson fishing. John served as a full-time deputy sheriff from June 1994 until August 1998 when he left the Sheriff’s Office to assume full-time duties in the National Guard, 1st battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, Lawrenceville, Georgia.
During his local service with the National Guard’s counter-drug operations, John served as a reserve deputy sheriff from October 2006 until December 2008, when his National Guard unit was mobilized for duty in Afghanistan. He was an extraordinarily skilled operative, specializing in covert drug-enforcement surveillance and won numerous awards.
He was tough, unrelenting. He cursed and reprimanded and gained not just their respect, but their fondness during the months of training for their deployment in Afghanistan. He could be harsh, but was fair and imparted to his men a sense of their potential. If he said something, you listened. If you didn’t, you were going to pay for it. He once said to another soldier, “I can’t make you do anything. But I can make you wish you had.”
John was proud of his country, proud of the guys he served with.
He died June 20, 2009, at age 38 in Mado Zayi, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle.
Some remembrances include:
“He pushed me to a point where I didn’t think I can be. If it wasn’t for him, I never would have gone to Ranger school. Now that he’s gone, it’s the only thing I know how to do. He used to tell us that integrity was the checks and balances in life. You don’t ever give up. You don’t ever stop. As long as you believe that you are doing the right thing, you won’t be wrong.” Spc. Robert Love, 22.
“He believed in us. God, I am gonna miss him. I miss him already. But we are going to wake up, put our boots on and do what we came here to do. Old Charlie Mike, as they say. Continue Mission.”