Covering the Land of Lincoln

Phillip Blake Obituary (1938 – 2022) – Peoria, IL

Colonel Phillip Lyle Blake, US Army (ret.) was born March 28, 1938, in Peoria, Illinois, to Ellis Dillon “Luke” Blake and Gladys Lyle Blake.

He passed away after a short illness, surrounded by loving family members, on July 30, 2022, at the age of 84. The son of a US Army infantry colonel, Phil grew up in various locations where his father was stationed. Among these were Ft. Lewis, Washington, Kyoto, Japan, Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Phil graduated high school in 1956 from Texas Military Institute. Receiving an Honor Military School appointment, he then entered the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. There he was selected to serve as a cadet officer before graduating with the West Point Class of 1960. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant and served in that branch throughout his career.

Phil began his distinguished military career with the 101st Airborne Division, Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, and later served a second tour with the 101st as a battalion executive officer. He served three tours in Vietnam, the first being with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, which deployed in May 1965 from Okinawa, Japan, as the first US Army ground unit to Vietnam. He later returned to Vietnam in 1966-1967 in command of Company A, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 12th Cavalry in the 1st Cavalry Division (Airborne), having served as a battalion adjutant for the first four months of his twelve-month tour. His last assignment in Vietnam was as a battalion advisor in the ARVN Airborne Division and then the aide-de-camp to the commanding general of all US military forces in Vietnam (COMUSMACV). He and the COMUSMACV departed Vietnam on the final day of US involvement on March 29, 1973.

Having earned a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Virginia, Phil taught English at West Point from 1969 to 1972. He additionally graduated from the Infantry Officer Career Course, from which he was selected as a distinguished graduate, the Armed Forces Staff College, and the US Army War College. He taught in the Department of Tactics at the Command and General Staff College from 1979 to 1982, as his father before him had done in the late 1950s. Another significant assignment in his illustrious career was serving as Battalion Commander of the 1/19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division, at Ft. Stewart, Georgia. He also led the Army ROTC Department as Professor of Military Science at the University of Alabama. His final assignment was as senior regular Army advisor to the commanding general of the 95th Infantry Division (US Army Reserve), Camp Robinson, Arkansas. Phil was a Master Parachutist, Ranger, and Pathfinder. His awards and decorations included two Legions of Merit, the Soldier’s Medal for heroism, three Bronze Stars, two being for valor, and the Purple Heart.

Upon retirement, Phil earned a teacher’s certificate from Southwest Texas State University and taught high school English for one year before being appointed Commandant of Cadets at Marion Military Institute in Alabama, where he served from 1990 to 1994. He later served as an adjunct professor of English at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee, and also served for several years as a part-time Army training exercise controller with Logicon, Inc. Phil was active for many years in the Episcopal Church, serving as a lay reader and vestry member . He and his wife, Reda, were members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Clarksville, Tennessee, for 23 years. A voracious reader, for many years he read at least one book per week, usually novels. A talented writer as well, he wrote numerous articles, essays, reminiscences, and poems. Dedicated to lifelong physical fitness, Phil lifted weights, ran and cycled regularly for decades.

Phil is survived by his loving wife of nearly 60 years, the former Reda Glendon Wallace, originally of Clarksville, Tennessee. They were married on September 8, 1962, in a chapel at Ft. Campbell. He is also survived by their two children, daughter, Susan Blake Kirschbaum, and son Matthew, Lyle Blake, and their respective spouses Lloyd Allan Kirschbaum and Anna Hidalgo Blake. Also surviving are Phil’s five grandchildren, Blake Andrew Kirschbaum, Grace Jillian Kirschbaum, Maria Elena Blake, Ellis Dillon Blake II, and Andrew James Blake. Phil is also survived by his three brothers, Robert Ellis Blake, LTC US Army (ret.), Steven Lee Blake, US State Department (ret.), and Douglas Brian Blake, LTC US Army (ret.). He is further survived by sister-in-law, Linda Foley Blake and nephew, Brian Foley Blake, niece, Jeannette Blake Peed, her husband, Randall Preston Peed, and their son, Walker Preston Peed, as well as numerous cousins ​​and other relatives .

A devoted husband, father, and grandfather, Phil was loved and admired greatly by his family. He is likewise held in high esteem and affection by many others and will be sorely missed. Funeral service will be held at 9:00 am on Monday, August 22, 2022, at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1416 N. Loop 1604 E, San Antonio, TX 78232. Immediately afterwards, Colonel Blake will be laid to rest with full military honors at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, any memorial gifts are asked to be presented either to St. Thomas Episcopal Church or to the USO (United Services Organization, Inc.).

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Published by San Antonio Express-News on Aug. 14, 2022.

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