The 35th Infantry Regiment Association salutes our fallen brother, 1LT Anton Leonard Bloemhard, who died in the service of his country on February 24th, 1968 in Binh Dinh Province, Vietnam. The cause of death was listed as Accidental Homicide. At the time of his death Anton was 32 years of age. He was from Great Neck, New York. Anton is honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at Panel 41E, Line 6.
The decorations earned by 1LT Anton Leonard Bloemhard include: the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachute Badge, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation.
Tony was shot in a NDP by a solider who awoke startled from a nightmare.
Tony is buried in White Crest Baptist Church Cemetery, Mt. Gilead, NC
Tony Bloemhard was the sixth child of the nine children in the family of Victor and Helena Bloemhard. In March 1935 he was born in Lahat, on the Island of Java in Indonesia.
His dad was a teacher working for the Dutch government and they had a good life. The children had a happy youth and being with so many children, they had a lot of fun.
Before his marriage Victor had been a professional hunter and when the boys were a little bigger, he took them on several hunting trips into the coastal swamps, which were great adventures.
Working for the government his dad was transferred to other places now and then, still in Indonesia. He would go first, find a place to live and make everything ready so Tony's mother and the children could follow him.
In 1936 the family went to Holland on leave for a year, which was provided for by the Dutch government. Here Tony's sister, Julia, was born. In January 1937 the family returned to Indonesia. In those days the voyages took about a month, which must have been fun too.
The family had a musical background with Victor playing the violin and the oldest sister
the piano and sometimes the house became the social club for one and all with other musicians joining in.
When the Japanese overran the islands, Victor lost his job as the Japanese had ordered all the schools to be closed. After that they moved to several other places on Java.
The war was a scary experience for all of them, but they were fortunate that they were of mixed blood, Indo European, therefore the Japs did not intern them in those horrible camps as they did the white people of different nationalities. Thousands of people perished, whole families among them.
After the Japs had capitualted and they had left, the bersiap period started. The extremists among the natives under Soekarno were determined to have the Dutch East Indies become an independent nation.
Everything was in such a disorder because of the war years, that the rebels saw their chance and began to wage their own war. They were well prepared with their weapons and they had no mercy.
They started to pick up people left and right and interned them in camps. They had the power and could do whatever they wanted. The Bloemhard family was interned in camps in Malang. The father and the older boys in a Navy camp and the mother and the younger children in another. Life became a question of survival as again there was hardly any food.
The American military and the British became involved and the Dutch government sent many of their young men to the Indies to try to keep some sort of peace, for their was a lot of fighting between the people loyal to the Dutch and the extremists. Many of the people on both sides were killed.
Finally after quite a while, via the Red Cross the whole family came together again safe and sound. Because of the policital situation in Indonesia and like so many Dutch citizens, who could not stay in Indonesia anymore because of Sukarno, the Red Cross saw to it that the family could repatriate to Holland in May 1946.
It was not over yet. The family had to get used to the cold climate and when the dad could get a job as a principal in a highschool in Kottabaru in New Guinea, he took his family to start over again overthere, I think it was either in 1947 or 1948. Tony's 2 older brothers, Fried and Walter, stayed behind to finish their education.
I don't know much about their life in New Guinea, except that once a month a boat would come and deliver supplies and because there was a shortage of meat, Victor would hunt again, which in a way was good, for Tony would hunt with him.
Meanwhile I was married to Tony's older brother Walter in 1952 and his mother decided that it would be better for Tony and his sister, Julia, to go and live with us, so they could finish their education, this happened towards the end of 1953. Because Walter was in the Navy and could not go, I went to the airport in Amsterdam to pick them up. The parents sent us enough money to cover the cost of their keep and their education.
The children were very pleasant to live with and we came to know them well, although Tony was a quiet boy, but very thoughtful. Their grandmother also had come to Holland, so did some of their cousins, who were living with their grandmother and when Tony and Julia came toghether with their cousins, they had great fun and they laughed easily. Finally in May 1954 the rest of the family returned to Holland and Tony and Julia joined their parents in The Hague.
Walter had studied for yachtdesign and because in Holland there was not a chance to get a decent job in that, after many discussions together and considerations, he emigrated to New York City in February 1955. I followed him in September 1955 with my 2 babies and we settled in Great neck, New York.
In the spring of 1957 Tony's mother wrote to us, that after Tony had finished his education, he could not make up his mind what to do next and she thought that maybe in America he would have more opportunities.
She had arranged that through a church organization he got a sponsorship and there would be a job waiting for him. She asked Walter, if he could meet him upon his arrival at Hoboken, New Jersey and see to it, that he got on his way to Connecticut. Walter found out that it was not quite settled yet where he was supposed to go and he decided then and there that he should come and live with us. He had to take over the sponsorship and sign the papers.
He had felt sorry for Tony having to go alone with strangers and he knew from his own experience how difficult it is to get immersed in a different language, eventhough all of us had learned english in highschool.
Tony was really good and started work at a shoe factory in Flushing, Long Island, but his minimum wages barely covered his travel expenses for bus and train. Through a friend of mine he was offered a landscaping job. He talked to the men and was offered a job for 125.- a week, so much more than Walter was making at that time. Now he could afford to rent a room close to us.
After a while he could even afford to buy a secondhand car on payments (with Walter co-signing). In time he got his drivers licence and he started to enjoy life. He joined a soccer club and on the weekends he had to play in different towns and would visit us as much as he could. But first he needed running shoes to play soccer. He could not really afford new ones, so I took him to the Salvation Army up the street, where he could get a pair for 25 cent. I can still see him hanging over the shoebin, laughing so much that he had to buy secondhand shoes, but he got a good pair for a quarter. He also took guitar lessons , for he loved playing the guitar, but wanted to get better. He started to feel good about life in America.
Where he lived he could not park his car, so he asked our landlord, Quatella, if he could park it in the parkinglot where we lived. That was alright. But the other tenants started to complain and the man came to talk to Tony. They were outside and through my kitchenwindow I saw it had become quite a confrontation. Suddenly Quatella picked my little boy's tricycle and threatened Tony with it and Tony picked up the other tricycle and did the same. I quickly went outside and asked what was the matter. At least they calmed down, but Tony was told to park somewhere else. Later on we found it hilarious, like something out of a movie. Too bad, I did not take a picture.
As soon as the summer was over, there was bad news for Tony, for the landscaping busines came to a standstill and he lost his job. Nobody had told him, nor me, that it was seasonable.
At the end of 1957 we had moved to a bigger place in Glen Cove a little further on Long Island because we were getting a new baby. To make a long story short, after a while he and Walter talked about what to do next and after some discussions, he decided to join the Army. After he had gone through the six weeks of bootcamp, he was allowed to go on leave and he came to us in January 1958 to stay for a few days. He was wearing his uniform and he looked so good and we were very proud of him.
After a while he was stationed in Germany, which was great for his family, for then they could visit him in Bad Toltz and he could go to Holland on leave. He joined the American Army soccer team and they played in different places, once in Greece, and he saw a lot of European countries. Tonny enjoyed being in the army and after 5 years he became an American citizen.
Towards the Fall of 1962 the Army moved him back to the States and he visited us again.
He talked about his experiences sitting at the kitchen table and it always felt good being with him.
Tony was stationed inTennessee and sometimes he came to us on a surprise visit usually in the middle of the night after having driven for hours.
In January 1963 Walter had taken on a job in Italy as a director of a yachtdesign office and we as a family moved to Italy. It was not a good move, for in 1964 the company did not get anymore orders due to the political situation in Italy. We moved back to Holland, where we stayed till the summer of 1965. It was too bad, that Tony was in The States, when we were in Holland, so we missed seeing him.
Upon our return to New York and we were living in Hicksville, Long Island, Tony came again on several surprise visits. He and Walter had long talks at the kitchen table and he had great plans for when he would leave the army, then he would try to get into the diplomatic service.
In October 1965 he came again on another surprise visit. He told us, that he had become a lieutenant in the Special Forces, the Paratroopers. He loved being a paratrooper. His dad had gone to California to visit his daughter, Julia, and was therefore able to attend the militairy ceremonies for Tony on December the 3rd.
He had told us already, that he had to go to Vietnam, for he was specially trained. Later this was cancelled.
When Tony was stationed in North Carolina in 1966, he met Lois Burris. During the summer he and Lois came by and told us that they had been married and they had come to introduce her to us. Again he was transferred to Germany. He had to go ahead and Lois was allowed to join him the following month. She seemed to be happy to go to Germany.
The family could visit them again. Later their daughter, Sherilyn, was born on the 4th of July 1967 in Munchen. When the baby was a few months old, Tony had to return to The States. They made a stopover at his parents' house in The Hague and then he told them, that he had volunteered to go to Vietnam because so many young men had died overthere and he was well trained by the Army. Moreover he was used to go hunting and was especially careful in observing situations.
They came by us again before going to her parents place and we all loved having them.
But like his own family we were stunned that he was going to Vietnam. But he had made up his mind. They left for North Carolina, where they had a few days vacation and meanwhile did some hunting. After that he shipped out to Oakland and from there he flew to Vietnam.
He started his tour of duty on September 22, 1967, as a lieutenant with the rang of
He wrote many letters to his parents, especially to his mam about the difficult situations in Vietnam and very often saying that he was proud of the men he worked with. He would send a few pictures and sometimes asking for hot sauce to spice up the rations they had to eat and his mam would sent small packages now and then.
After 6 months of duty Tony was to receive his R and R and would meet Lois and Sheri in Hawaii, but that was not to be, for on February 24, 1968, he was killed by friendly fire. We have received the particulars through Dick Arnold, who together with the Special Brand of Brothers, is leading the search for the particulars of the KIA Americans for their families and we are very grateful to them, that they kept going at this difficult task and let us know how Tony died. We all can be proud of such detemined men. It is good, that his parents never found out, for that would have been too much to bear.
Rest in peace, dear Tony, we all have missed you and we will always love you.