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Flag Flies for Erik S. Blom

Flag Flies for Erik S. Blom photo thumbnail164737

In continuing its mission to take history out of the textbooks by honoring a local hero each month of the school year, the Hampton Bays School District is paying tribute to Senior Master Sergeant Erik S. Blom by flying an American flag in his honor throughout the month of February. 

“The district is proud to honor Mr. Blom for his bravery and service to the United States,” said Superintendent of Schools Lars Clemensen. 

Blom was recognized at a ceremony on Feb. 14 at Hampton Bays Elementary School, where district middle school students read his biography and the middle school chorus performed. The event culminated with the raising of the flag on the school’s flagpole. 

Blom was born in 1975 in Nassau County, but soon moved upstate after his father retired from the U.S. Army Special Forces. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be involved with the military. As a junior at Gloversville High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, during the summer before his senior year. He graduated high school in 1994.  
 
Blom found a home at Fort Benning, where he completed his airborne training and qualifications. In 1996, he completed the requirements for the coveted Army Ranger badge and then his medical training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment, again at Fort Benning. 

After this accomplishment, Blom rethought his career options and decided to separate from the Army and enlist in the New York Air National Guard. In 2000, he joined the Guard and was accepted for Air Force pararescue training, one of the most difficult and dangerous jobs in the service. It was a grueling 24-month training program that he completed in 18 months because of his prior training in the Army.
 
After graduation in 2002, he was assigned to the 103rd Rescue Squadron at Westhampton Beach. Although Blom found his calling in the Air National Guard in March 2010, he changed his status from full time to part time. However, he still participated in several U.S military operations overseas, including Northern Watch, a combined task force operation enforcing the no-fly zone in northern Iraq; Inherent Resolve, which was the military intervention against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq with the unit motto “one mission, many nations;” and the better known Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom campaigns. These assignments required that he participate both in combat and human operations in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Djibouti and Kenya.
 
One of his proudest assignments was working with NASA on space shuttle launches. His assignment was to be on alert and ready to respond to space shuttle incidents anywhere in the world that required an immediate pararescue presence. It was a credit to his training and capability that NASA trusted him with such a sensitive and critical mission. While stationed at the 103rd, Blom responded and saved lives in both the U.S. and the Caribbean in four separate hurricane incidents. The devastation of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey and Irma would have been worse if not for Blom’s pararescue skills. He also participated in one of the longest search and rescue missions conducted by the 103rd. In 2018, he and his team were flown 1,500 miles into the Atlantic in an Air Force C-130 and saved the lives of two sailors on a container ship in distress. Recently, Esquire magazine printed a story about Blom and this operation.

A review of his 30 medals and ribbons includes recognition from the Army, Air Force and NATO. The one he is most proud of is the Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor in combat. In 2012, Blom was involved in a helicopter rescue in the middle of a firefight in Afghanistan, where he saved the lives of two American soldiers and a U.S. Coalition partner.
 
Blom’s wife, Emily, is from Marblehead, Massachusetts. They have three children: Ryder and Sydney, who attend Hampton Bays Elementary School, and Taylor, who will be in the district in a few years. Blom is presently the pararescue team leader of the 106th Operations Group, referred to as the Guardian Angel Rescue Squadron, at Gabreski Airport.
 
When not actively involved in pararescue operations, Blom is a SWAT officer with the Suffolk County Police Emergency Service Unit, a member of their sniper team and an FBI-certified firearms instructor. He is also completing his college education at Excelsior University and is an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.