O. J. Blount, Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, WWII
Author: John Vick
Andalusia and Covington County lost another member of The Greatest Generation with the passing of O. J. Blount on February 1, 2023. The author was privileged to interview O. J. and his wife, Lucy Conklin Blount in October, 2019.
LEFT: O. J. Blount in Army uniform during WWII. [Photo: Lucy Conklin Blount] RIGHT: O. J. and Lucy Blount with the Honor Flight in Washington, D.C. in 2018 [Photo: Kendra Majors]
O. J. Blount was drafted into the Army from Garnett, Arkansas, in 1944. After basic training, he was trained as a cook and shipped to France aboard the SS Sea Robin. His unit marched through France into Germany and was near Nuremburg when the war ended. O. J. was stationed with 202nd Military Police Unit until his discharge in 1947 as a Staff Sergeant. When stationed near Dacchau, he remembered seeing rooms where Nazi guards hung prisoners from large hooks. He also remembered watching American soldiers interrogate German concentration camp guards. One technique was to give a cigarette to one of the German guards and quietly question him. The interrogator would then turn the former guard over to another team. The new interrogator would then slap the cigarette out of the guard’s mouth, sometimes knocking him down. O. J. believed that the U. S. interrogators were aware of the war crimes committed by the German guards because they were really rough on them.
In June 1945, General Mark Clark was appointed Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Occupation Forces in Austria. General Clark formed the Vienna Honor Guard made up of allied soldiers. They were formed to protect certain state treasures in Austria. O. J. Blount was assigned to that unit and recalled being sent to guard the Lipizzaner Stallions.
Front of O. J. Blount’s ID for the Vienna Honor Guards [note Russian, English and French print].
[Photo: Lucy Conklin Blount]
The world-famous Lipizzaner Stallions had been moved from Vienna to St. Martin in January 1945 when Allied bombing neared the city. The stallions were discovered and returned to Vienna by U.S. General George S. Patton in the spring of 1945. The rescue of the stallions was made famous by the Disney movie, “Miracle of the White Stallions.” O. J. Blount had never heard of the Lipizzaner Stallions until he was sent to guard them.
While still in Austria, O. J. met Liliana Kostova near Salzburg. She was from Sofia, Bulgaria, and was teaching German to American soldiers. After his discharge, O. J. met Liliana in Canada where she had emigrated. They were married in 1952. That same year, O.J. rejoined the Army and was sent to Korea. He only remembered being near the 38th parallel when the truce was signed.
Inside of O. J. Blount’s ID for Gen. Mark Clark’s Vienna Honor Guards.[Photo: Lucy Conklin Blount]
O. J. was discharged from the Army in 1954. He joined the Air Force Reserve in 1955 and remained there until 1961. O. J. and Liliana lived briefly in Louisiana before moving to Knoxville, Tennessee. Their daughter, Neranza, was born there in 1955.
O. J. rejoined the Air Force at McGee-Tyson Air Force Base in 1970. He was assigned to the 110th Tactical Control Unit of the Tennessee Air National Guard. O. J. worked for the Knoxville Utility Board while he was in the guard unit. O. J. had taken up beekeeping as a hobby/job and belonged to three beekeeper associations in Knox, Blount and Sevier Counties in Tennessee.
He left the Air Force in 1986 and moved to a home in Alabama near the Covington County – Escambia County line. After moving there, he established the Queen’s Castle Beekeeping Association. After Liliana died in 2008, O. J. married Lucy Conklin in 2010. Lucy had been widowed from Charles L. Evans of Brewton, Alabama. Charles was also a WW II veteran having served in the Army Air Corps for 20 years. O. J. Blount was honored as the Alabama Beekeeper of the Year in 2014.
O. J. Blount passed away at his home on February 1, 2023, at the age of 96. His funeral was held on February 3 at Williams Memorial Chapel Funeral Home in Brewton, Alabama. Graveside services with full military honors will be held at a later date in Arkansas. O. J. was survived by his wife, Lucy Conklin Blount; a daughter, Neranza Noel Blount [Don Sobczak]; a brother, Little [Carolyn] Blount; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.