Summary

Conflict Period:
World War II 1
Rank:
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army 1
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Alfred C Blozis 1
Death:
Buried: Buried at: Plot J Row 42 Grave 13<BR>Lorraine American Cemetery<BR>St. Avold, France 1
Death: 31-Jan-45 1
Death Date: 31 Jan 1945 1
Memorial Cemetery: Lorraine American Cemetery 1
Memorial Country: St. Avold, France 1
Memorial Location: Plot J Row 42 Grave 13 1
Residence:
State: New Jersey 1
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World War II 1

Rank:
Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army 1
Service Number:
O1327603 1
Awards:
Purple Heart 1
Regiment:
110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division 1

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Stories

Al Blozis

 

A fair number of Herculean athletes have competed for Georgetown, but rarely has one combined muscle with modesty as Alfred C. Blozis, Class of 1942. The son of a 300 lb. Lithuanian day laborer, young Al used his awesome physical inheritance to become a four sport star (football, track, swimming, and basketball) at Dickinson High in his home town of Danfield, New Jersey. First recruited by Georgetown, Blozis offered this initial interest as his reason for choosing to enroll at the Hilltop in 1938. His second choice, Notre Dame, was the most prominent loser.

Shot putting was Blozis' specialty, and the event in which he would smash records with stunning regularity. Principally a football player in high school, his shot putting began accidentally. Working out by the track one day, Blozis was nearly hit by an errant toss. Angered, he heaved the heavy ball back to the thrower so impressively that the coach immediately placed him on the squad. Blozis went on to set 24 schoolboy track and field records.

Freshman ineligibility rules kept Blozis from competing on the varsity level his first year. Under the tutelage of "Hap" Hardell, veteran Hoya track mentor, Blozis developed a shot putting technique that took maximum advantage of his agile feet and perfectly chiseled 6-5, 250 lb. body. When Blozis began competing as a sophomore, neither coach nor athlete waited long for returns on their time and effort investment.

Blozis romped through the indoor track season and concluded on April 10, 1940 with one of the most amazing feats in the history of track. Going north to Madison Square Garden, Blozis shattered the world indoor marks in three different shot putting events. He hurled the 16 lb. ball 55'- 1", two and a half feet beyond the existing indoor record; the 12 lb. ball three feet over the world mark; and the 8 lb. ball 78'-1/4"-a new record by over eight feet!

Blozis would excel throughout his track career, breaking meet shot put records in 23 of the 26 meets he participated. However, he would never officially hold the absolute world mark in the event's most important category--the 16 lb. shot. Jack Terrance had established the world's record in 1934 with a heave of 57"-1". Blozis best competitive throw was 57' even. At the meet in which me had this toss, Blozis did throw one near 58'; unfortunately, this effort was for a photographer shooting for a magazine, and was not eligible as a record.

It is difficult to believe, but Blozis preferred football over track. Given his immense bulk and strength, it is not difficult to believe that Blozis was an effective, often terrifying, gridder. Clumsy when he first appeared as a Hoya footballer, he matured into an All-American tackle. Known for his violent straight-ahead charges after the snap, opponents frequently tried to "mousetrap" Blozis by running him into a blocker rather than vice versa. These plays initially threatened Blozis, but the problem was soon solved by using his long and powerful arms to tackle both blocker and runner. Impressed by his stellar play, the New York Giants drafted Blozis after he graduated with his Bachelor of Science degree in 1942.

Blozis played for the better part of two seasons with the Giants before leaving for the war in Europe. During that time he was an outstanding performer, being chosen All-Pro, and given special acclaim for his ability to obliterate would-be kick returners in the open field. For his exploits, Blozis was named to the 1940-1949 "All Decade" team.

The saddest aspect of Al Blozis' life was its brevity. Endeared to this country, Blozis sought long and earnestly to obtain a dispensation from military height restrictions. He finally received his wish when inducted into the United States Army on Dec. 9, 1943. During infantry training, he again exhibited his outstanding physical ability by throwing a hand grenade 284'-2 1/2" (95 yards) --nearly three times the previous distance of a normal throw and demolishing the previous record throw easily. Yet, in the end, this attribute did nothing to protect his life. On his first patrol, less than two months after playing his last game on the Gridiron, Lt. Alfred Blozis was killed in the Vosges Mountains during an encounter related to the Battle of the Bulge. Al Blozis was 26 years old.

Blozis' premature death robbed football of a standout player, track and field of a virtually certain Olympic gold medalist, and Georgetown of a devoted alumnus. If it is any indication, he received just recognition of his talent while alive. Most notable is a UPI award selecting Al Blozis one of the three outstanding athletes of 1941.

 

If you were wondering, the other two were Ben Hogan and Joe Louis.

The Tragic Death of Al Blozis

 

In the sixty years since his untimely death, the story of All-American Al Blozis (C'42) is a vital part of the Georgetown athletics tradition. Much has been rightly written about his football prowess on the Hilltop, his track accolades, his NFL Rookie of the Year and All-Pro honors, but comparatively little about the battle in the Vosges Mountains that cost Blozis his life at the age of 26.

A reader to this web site, Mr. David Coats, has forwarded this account of Blozis' final battle from someone who witnessed it first hand, his father.

"My father, Lowell S. Coats, served with Al Blozis during Blozis' very brief time in combat. My father served in Co. A, 110th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division. He was the Company Communications Sgt. at the time Lt. Blozis joined A Co. in January, 1945, and was in an adjacent foxhole when Lt. Blozis was mortally wounded.

"I thought I'd shed a little more light on that sad event in case you wanted to update and clarify this portion of his bio on your web site. If there are any of Blozis' family that maintain contact with Georgetown perhaps they would appreciate this information as I doubt they ever learned much about how he died.

"In January, 1945, the 110th Regiment was regrouping in Fumay France after having been decimated during the initial days (Dec. 16-18, 1944) of the Battle of the Bulge. The 110th was in the direct path of the German breakthrough and took the full brunt of the German offensive. The Germans out numbered them by 10 to 1 and by the end of the 3rd day of the battle the 110th ceased to exist as a fighting unit. But before the regiment was completely overrun they had managed to slow down the German advance putting them well off their timetable and they had bought enough time to enable the 101st Airborne Division to get into Bastogne before the Germans cut off access to the city. This, too, would serve as one of the key successes in the early days of the battle. The regiment suffered a very high casualty rate of about 67% during the breakthrough. My father's platoon would be the only surviving unit from A Co.

"Sometime in late January shortly after Lt. Blozis was assigned to A Co. they were rushed south to the Colmar Pocket to assist the Third Army in cleaning out the last remaining German forces west of the Rhine. It was essentially the last German offensive of the war and the men sometimes referred to this battle as the 'Little Battle of the Bulge'. The 110th's 1st Battalion to which Co. A belonged was held in reserve while the 2nd and 3rd battalions participated in the liberation of Colmar and began the push to the Rhine. Although in reserve, Co. A was nonetheless given the task of taking a prominent point in the Vosges Mountains toward the rear of the combat zone near the French town of Orbey. The mountain or large hill was called Black Mountain by the Army but its real name was Le Cras. The village of LaBaroche is nearby.

"My father didn't follow professional football and only knew that Lt. Blozis had played for the Giants during the recently completed season. I don't think any of the men knew he was a world record holder in the shot put. The men had never seen a man so large and powerful, and his size gained even more impact as they followed him during the three-hour advance up Black Mountain through snow that was waist deep. During the advance they encountered no German resistance. It was Lt. Blozis' first day of combat.

"Upon reaching the summit they dug in as best they could but the Germans didn't wait long to come calling. On the way up the company passed by some old WWI pill boxes located at the mountain's base. The Germans moved into those emplacements and began shelling Co. A. Then they moved up the mountain and began attacking Co. A directly.

"My father's foxhole was adjacent to Lt. Blozis'. During the close-in fighting Lt. Blozis took a grenade in his foxhole. He wasn't dead but was gravely wounded. They did all they could to save him but they badly needed to get him off the mountain and to a field hospital as quickly as possible. The Company's CO and my father spent a great deal of time on the radio with Division HQ's trying to work out how to get him down the mountain but Gen'l Cota, the CG of the 28th Division, said that it was still extremely dangerous and that it was imperative that they stay put.

"Although they had repelled the German attack that first day they still remained trapped there for two more days. Two men took it on upon themselves to try to find a safe way off the mountain so that Blozis could be evacuated but they were captured. One of the captured men had a twin brother in the company and his twin had to be restrained from going after his brother after he learned of his capture.

"After three days the Free French division broke through and brought them off the mountain but it was too late for Lt. Blozis. Blozis was the only death from enemy fire. The other casualties, in addition to the two men who were captured, were men who had to be carried off the mountain due to Trench Foot --their feet had frozen in the severe cold.

"One of the men carried down with frozen feet was one of my father's best friends, Cecil Hannaford. They were brought down a different way than the rest of the company. When Cecil came into the clearing at the base of the mountain he was shocked to see dozens of dead GI's, face down in the snow, having fallen right where they were cut down during their advance on the base of the mountain in an attempt to break through the German line and reach Co. A.

"Immediately upon their evacuation from Black Mountain around Feb. 3rd, Co. A was rushed to the front line and joined the rapid drive to the Rhine. They would be the 1st to reach the Rhine in this sector.

"The severity of Lt. Blozis wounds combined with the intense cold and the inability to evacuate him to a field hospital gave him no chance of survival. I know if affected my father deeply. He was one of the men trying to keep Lt. Blozis alive but in spite of their efforts he had only been able to watch and listen to him slowly die. Of all the misery my father experienced during his 6 months of combat, Lt. Blozis' death would be one of his most difficult and painful memories."

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