Guam - Former Guam congressman Ben Blaz has passed away. His nephew Michael Borja confirms with KUAM that Blaz died in Virginia surrounded by grandchildren and his two sons Tom and Michael. Borja says funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date. He said Blaz will likely be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at his request. Borja says his uncle was "a great man and broke the barriers for Chamorros by becoming a brigadier general in the United States Marine Corps and then went on to serve Guam as the island's second elected congressman." Blaz also hosted a television segment on KUAM for several years "Nihi Ta Bisita'. He was 85 years old.
Former congressman and UOG president Dr. Robert Underwood expresses his condolences to Blaz's family. "He was a public servant, always had Guam in his heart and the country on his mind. I think he serves as an excellent role model on courage and determination and we will miss his voice tremendously," he said. Underwood succeeded Blaz in Congress and says, "We tried to make it a smooth transition and even though it was a difficult campaign, he helped out with establishing relationships with some Republicans in Congress as he was well-respected and well-regarded by his colleagues."
One of Blaz's last public appearances was just last October when he was gave a lecture titled "Remembrances and Realities" during UOG's Presidential Lecture Series, which Underwood called "insightful."
Governor Eddie Calvo said Blaz, "is one of the most important Guamanians of our time. He showed us that Chamorros can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves. He was the first Guam son to earn the rank of General in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was our peoples' voice in our nation's Capitol. His accomplishments show us that bravery and perseverance are all we need to succeed and for that, the people of Guam will forever be grateful."
Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo meanwhile sends her thoughts and prayers to the family of the former congresswoman. She says, "Ben was an outstanding leader of our community having served as the first Chamorro to achieve the rank of brigadier general and was a trailblazer for those in military service."
She calls Blaz a distinguished individual whose wartime experience, knowledge and passion for Chamorro history made him a great role model throughout generations, saying, "Ben truly lived an American life with the heart of a Chamorro wherever he went. Today, our island has lost a hero, a leader and a great friend."