As July 4th approaches, fellow residents and employees at Garden View Assisted Living in Baton Rouge agree that Stan Blouin is one of the most patriotic people around.
At 96, Blouin is proud of his World War II service. The Baton Rouge native attended Sacred Heart and Catholic High. These days, he wears red, white and blue on a regular basis and is often found sporting a World War II veterans baseball cap.
“Me and two friends were on Florida Boulevard at the railroad track when the war broke out,” he said. “The next day they called my friend into the service. Me and two fellows got into my late Ford and drove three nights and three days to California and went to work in the aircraft factories. Then, I went into service from there.”
He remembers landing in England on Thanksgiving Day 1943.
“They assigned us to a base. When we got into the base, there was mud up to your knees. They assigned all the engineers to re-do the base because the base couldn’t handle the B-24 bombers. They were too heavy and we had to redo the whole base,” Blouin said remembering the day he landed in England. “When the war was over, I couldn’t fly back. We had to turn the base over to the British. We came over on a boat, three days and three nights on the Queen Elizabeth, 19,000 Canadians and 7,000 Americans. Boy, it was sure good to see the Statue of Liberty!”
Blouin was a flight engineer throughout his World War II service.
“We’d fly in the daytime. The Brits would fly at night,” he said. “It wasn’t bad. We got together and built us a little shack by the airplane with the guys who lowered the bombs.”
When he first served with the Air Force in England, he said the P-47s couldn’t make it all the way to Germany, but then they brought the P-51s.
“With the P-51s, we could go all the way,” he said. “The hardest part was flying and getting shot at. Some bright officer in the command had the brilliant idea that we’d go in the morning. They followed each of our bombers. We lost four planes coming in trying to land at the base. After successfully completing the mission, they got shot down landing on base.”
Janice Blount, executive director of Garden View Assisted Living, enjoys visiting with Blouin and appreciates his service, his patriotism and his youthful appearance.
“He does not look like he’s in his 90s. I want to know where he found the Fountain of Youth,” Blount said. “He is very proud of what he did.”
Blouin remembers the difficult times and the good ones too. Once on furlough, he and some buddies went to Scotland.
“We were on a furlough and guys got to horsing around,” Blouin said. “I dressed up in a kilt.”
He ended up working for a plastics company in California after his military service. He says he was a different person after the war.
“I was unsettled. I’d get a job and go to the top and then go get another job,” he said. “I kept bouncing around till I came back home to Baton Rouge.”
Once home, he first worked with his uncle who owned three bars before entering the clothing business. He worked for Rosenfeld’s, Varsity Shops and other stores in Louisiana.
He stayed in touch with his military buddies for years. To stay connected to the spirit of World War II, Blouin reached out to the World War II Museum in New Orleans.
“They’ve done a fabulous job,” he said. “I need to go back. Now they’ve got the whole thing, but I haven’t seen the newest exhibits. They’ve done such a fantastic job there — everybody should go.”
These days he spends his time enjoying life at Garden View Assisted Living, where he particularly enjoys listening to the live music. He keeps up with the news and current events and has some advice for younger generations.
“I wish people right now knew that the more they have to trust each other, the better off they are. Look after one another and don’t be afraid to speak up,” he said. “In my life, I’ve had a lot of good things and a lot of heartbreak — it’s been up and down. My advice is to live it out.”
Blouin has two daughters, one in Baton Rouge and the other in Walker, Texas. He enjoys visiting with them and his grandchildren.
“Time passes by,” he said. “I was married a long time and had a beautiful place. I used to raise chickens and goats on more than an acre over off Bluebonnet. Then my wife died,” he said. “I came to live here when it opened.”
Blouin says he’s enjoying life at Garden View.
“They take good care of you. If you need something, they’ll help you. They’re very attentive,” he said. “I’m not sure of the secret to my long and healthy life. I did what I could and I’m still doing it!”