BY: Dolores Gomez, Brisbane historian, email@example.com
A veteran of WWI, Linwood “Sarge” Blair married his Russian war bride Vera. They settled in Brisbane at 134 Monterey Street, circa 1919. The Blair’s Rangers were created in honor of their son, Walter, one of Brisbane’s first residents to volunteer for the service in WWII. He was also our first hero, a handsome young man of twenty and popular around town. Blair went to Canada and volunteered to fly for England against the German Luftwaffe. Sadly, his plane was shot down near Frankfurt, Germany, October 1943 and declared, missing in action.
In the spring of 1942, Sarge began his Rangers, a special “civilian defense unit.” Sarge expressed to residents “I want to bring home to the youngsters, the realization of what it means to be an American and that anything worthwhile does not come easy.” Rangers were volunteers, boys nine to seventeen of age, with their mascot, first class Ranger “Tike,” a fine Springer Spaniel. Applicants had to be husky enough to pack nine pounds, a rifle and full field equipment; also own stout shoes, a decent pair of khakis and a shirt for parades. The recruits had rifles,”45-70’s or Springfield and were taught strict safety procedures. The Rangers were trained to patrol San Bruno Mountain for a possible saboteur or parachutist. They trained and performed just as a regular United States Army soldier!
The Rangers marched from the Blair house on Monterey Street, to the entrance of Brisbane, then to the Bay. They camped overnight, pitching their pup tents on grassy land, (where Crocker is now) fix their own breakfast and then proceed to march up San Bruno Avenue, steadily behind Sarge.
Later, most Rangers joined the service, fighting in Korea and Vietnam conflicts, coming home with honors and medals. Sarge and Vera kept a wonderful album of correspondence from his boys. Letters in the album relate how being a Ranger, prepared the young men for the service and helped to save their lives in combat. There was even a ring from a grenade someone saved and sent from Viet Nam.
I fondly remember those kids who became proud young men and served their country; loyal Americans and good citizens. My brother was one of them; two tours in Viet Nam, receiving two bronze medals. Thankfully they all came home, a tribute to Sarge Blair and his love for America and the young men of Brisbane.