Eugene Elliott Bleil, M.D.
August 29, 1920 – September 7, 2020
Eugene Elliott Bleil, East Lansing, MI resident of 63 years, died at the age of 100. Honored Veteran, Eugene Elliott Bleil, M.D., TSGT AAF, Pacific Theatre, WWII will receive full military honors and burial in Arlington National Cemetery with his wife of 71 years Opal L. Bleil by his side. Opal Louise (Brazee), born March 7, 1920, preceded Eugene in death, passing away June 27, 2018.
Eugene is survived by two daughters, Claudia Bleil of East Lansing, MI and Cynthia Camp of Palm City, FL, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. Eugene enjoyed reading, writing, coin and stamp collecting, whittling chess sets, making violins and cellos by hand with his own handmade tools, and restoring a 250-year-old banjo. He liked playing tennis and golf, and especially enjoyed talking with people. He and Opal faithfully attended South Church, Lansing, MI since 1959. Their favorite social activity was going out to dinner often with Sunday brunch as best. Eugene was a loving husband, father, physician, friend and remained faithful to his Lord and Savior. Eugene moved to East Lansing, MI with Opal and his medical school friend Homer Larson to begin medical practice at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing, MI as the first licensed anesthesiologists practicing in Lansing, MI, in 1959, setting up everything surgeons would need for their patients in the basement of Sparrow Hospital, creating a recovery room, and establishing PAS (Physicians Anesthesia Services).
Born at home August 29, 1920 in Detroit, MI, Eugene never expected to be the last to survive his father's family of 9 children. After several family moves, Eugene graduated Van Buren Township Consolidated Schools (Belleville High School, Belleville, MI) in 1938. He attended Michigan State Normal College (Eastern Michigan University) for one year, before deciding to join military service.
Bleil entered U.S. Army Air Corps December 11, 1939. He graduated Chanute Field, IL, as an aircraft and engine mechanic and was sent to Nichols Field in the Philippine Islands with 17th Pursuit Squadron where he was assigned position as crew chief for Squadron Commanders Major Kirtley Gregg and 1st Lt. Boyd D. (Buzz) Wagner, first flying Ace of the Pacific. Bleil moved up quickly from Private to Technical Sergeant. They were strafed 4 hours before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
T/Sgt Bleil fought in three Battles of the Points on Bataan Peninsula as a provisional infantryman after only fifteen-minute instruction in combat tactics. The three Battles of the Points took place at Aglaloma Bay for 28 days, Quinaun Point and Anaysan Point. After the surrender of the American Command on April 9, 1942, T/Sgt Bleil made the Bataan Death March to Camp O'Donnell. On September 18, 1943, he was sent to Japan and forced to engage in slave labor by the Imperial Japanese Army. During his 1,245 days of incarceration, T/Sgt Bleil worked in the Nippon Steel Mill foundry, and as a longshoreman, unloading ships that carried coal, iron ore, loose cement and grains until his liberation on September 5, 1945.
For meritorious achievement while serving with the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group, in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater of Operations from 7 December 1941 to 9 April 1942 in operations against an armed enemy of the United States during World War II, noting his exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat was in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 17th Pursuit Squadron and the United States Army, Technical Sergeant Eugene E. Bleil received Honorable Discharge, Crew Chief AAF Wings and was awarded by the United States Army Air Corps, World War II, Pacific Theatre:
Distinguished Service Cross with Two Oak Leaf Clusters
The Bronze Star Medal
(2) Purple Heart
Prisoner of War Medal with Japan Bar
Good Conduct Medal with Two Knots
American Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Bronze Battle Star
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal-Japan
Distinguished Unit Badge with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Philippine Defense Ribbon with Bronze Battle Star
Philippine Liberation Medal
7 Overseas Service Bars
2 Service Stripes
Once home in Michigan, Eugene attended Michigan State College and earned his B.S. in three years, plus one year graduate school to receive degree in Chemistry. He then graduated University of Michigan Medical School in 1955 and was licensed as Doctor of Medicine in 1956. He completed 12-month residency at the Veterans Hospital in Dearborn, MI in Anesthesiology 1956-57 and continued to serve the Art of Medicine until January 2016.
Eugene traveled many years to the Annual Reunion of Bataan and Corregidor conventions. And for many years, he attended monthly meetings of Former POWs at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. In 2003, he was recognized and placed on the Wall of Heroes at Ann Arbor VA Hospital in Ann Arbor, MI. He spoke to many groups and schools, high school students and adults. He was a guest lecturer at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in February 2006. His book "Consigned to Death Six Times, Surviving Bataan, the Death March and Life as a POW" was first published in 2011, reprinted in 2011. Copies available privately via email: Consignedtodeath6times@gmail.com. On November 11, 2011, Dr. Bleil was among six inducted into the interactive Veterans Memorial at Lansing Community College, Lansing, MI. He received the Key to the City of Lansing by the Honorable Virg Bernero Mayor of Lansing, MI on November 10, 2012. He received the Distinguished Graduate Award from Belleville High School in 2012. November 7, 2015, Eugene was honored as Veteran of the Game at the University of Michigan Football Stadium.
Eugene E. Bleil, M.D. was accomplished, resilient and strong, yet generous, gracious, kind and gentle. He was loved by many and will be missed by all. This is an invitation to a celebration of life service May 15, 11am at South Church. You may Stream live from your home or attend...your choice.To attend, please sign in and reserve seating. We will be showing 42 min. video from Arlington national cemetery. Just wanted to invite you. Claudia The link is https://southlife.org/funeral or https://southlife.org/event/dr-bleil-celebration-of-life?instance_id=36779 r
Friday, February 19, 2021
Eugene Elliott Bleil, M.D.
March 9, 2021
I was sad to read of Dr. Bliel's passing today. I met him at the Jackson Library in 2009, when I attended a presentation of WW11 soldiers who discussed their experiences during the war.
Through our conversation, we discovered that he was a friend of my Uncle Bill Kenel. They met on the ship Etolin where they became good friends. Uncle Bill even sketched a drawing of Dr. Bliel.
Dr. Biel was a true hero and suffered much during those years in captivity.
I am so sorry for your family's loss.
November 1, 2020
I worked with Dr. Bleil at Sparrow in surgery and when my husband LeRoy and I got married he did our blood test .Also knew Dr Larson his partner.He will be missed,.
October 31, 2020
Dr. Bleil became a friend when his daughter, Cynthia, brought her son, Joey, and her daughter to live with Grandma and Grandpa for a few years. Joey and our son, Jay, became school friends and would share time in the neighborhood together.
As the years went by, we came to know the doctor and Opal and Claudia as friends.
What a remarkable life - full to the brim.
Sending hugs to the family from Nell Kuhnmuench and Roy Saper
October 17, 2020
He was the first anesthesiologist I worked with as a new graduate nurse and he taught me so many things. My first days on call by myself when he was there he was supportive and assuring that I had this for the patient. We talked many times after I left the PACU when I was a in nursing administration and he always seemed to make my day. He is truly a special person and one who affected many lives. Live long and prosper, Dr. Bleil. P.S. I learned how to spell that because he said 'i before e except in Bleil'.
October 15, 2020
A true gentleman, American hero, and loving husband who cherish his family and faith.
October 15, 2020
It was a privilege to meet Dr. Bleil! As a few fellow graduate of Belleville High School an the University of Michigan, I was so happy to meet him and hear his amazing story. He had the strongest handshake I've ever experienced! And that was in his 90s! His book is amazing so I highly recommend reading it. I was honored to nominate him for Veteran of the Game and it was so amazing to see him cheered on by 100,000+ people at Michigan Stadium! Rest in peace, Dr. Bleil!
October 14, 2020
I loved him and Aunt Opal,too. He was an artist with his woodworks. He was so intelligent and so kind. He will be greatly missed
October 14, 2020
It was my extreme pleasure to get to know Dr. Bleil and perform at his home over the last two years. Dr. Bleil shared many a story with me, and we shared many a laugh during our get together‘s. I will always cherish those memories.
October 14, 2020
What can I say? He was my favorite uncle. My father was 3 years older than Uncle Chic, and they enlisted together and went thru military training together, but were separated when my dad ended up in the hospital with jaundice. Uncle chic went to the Philippines and Daddy was sent to Guam. He got the better deal. Four days after I was born, Uncle Chic was taken prisoner by the Japanese. Thanks to Red Cross mail allowed by families to POW’s, my folks were able to inform him of my birth, and while he was a POW, he was able to write a poem to me and sent it to my parents, and I still have it, 76 years later.
I love you Uncle Chic, and will miss you very much. Yours was a life very well served, and we were all very blessed to have you in ours.
Your loving niece, Caroline
October 14, 2020
A true American Hero! Thank you for your service Mr. Bleil. God bless you and your family, may you rest in peace.
September 14, 2020
The first time I met Dr. Bleil, I asked what kind of Doctor he was. As he firmly gripped my hand, he said with a firm voice “A good one.” He was one of the most amazing WWII Veterans I ever met. I will miss him.
September 12, 2020
I was lucky enough to meet Dr. Bleil when I was employed by Physician Anesthesia Service. Dr. Bleil would come into the office and visit with us, makes copies of things he needed, etc. I was honored to type a manuscript that Dr. Bleil had written on religion and also to type the draft on his book relating to his experiences in World War II. Dr. Bleil was one of a kind and we all loved him dearly. In August 2019, I was invited to a celebration of Dr. Bleil's 99th birthday. I am attaching a photo that I took at the party. My heart goes out to his family along with my deepest sympathies.
Kim (Hecht) and Ben Box
September 8, 2020
Dear Cynthia, Cindy and Steve, and families,
We’re so sorry for your loss! Dr. Bleil was such an amazing man, committed to the Lord, to His church, and to his family.
Our family loved him and your whole family.
Everyone who knew him was blessed.
Praying for the whole family.