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CW2 Michael T. Blaise
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Chief Warrent Officer Michael T. Blaise, 29, of Macon, Missouri; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Aviation Brigade, Fort Campbell, Ky. Killed January 23, 2004, when his helicopter crashed near Mosul.

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(CW2 Michael T. Blaise on left)

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Missouri man among latest casualties
By The Associated Press

Kansas City — A Macon man who was scheduled to return soon from duty in Iraq was killed in a helicopter crash on Friday, his family said.

Michael Blaise, 29, was an Army helicopter pilot whose OH-58 Kiowa Warrior crashed Friday, 30 miles south of Mosul, killing him and another pilot, his father said.

"He was just a day or two from starting his move home," Terry Blaise said.

The younger Blaise was a chief warrant officer with the 101st Airborne Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky. He was deployed to Kuwait in February before being sent to Iraq.

Few details about the crash were available, but the military said initial reports did not indicate hostile activity.

Michael Blaise's wife, Kate, is an Army captain who was serving at the same base in Iraq when the crash happened. She was scheduled to return to Missouri on Sunday.

Michael Blaise graduated in 1993 from Macon High School, where he was a football player and took part in many activities, his stepmother, Cheryl Blaise, said Sunday.

"He was a real team player," she said.

Michael Blaise loved flying, his stepmother said.

"He would e-mail us pictures of the inside of his helicopter and the outside of his helicopter," she said. "He was doing what he wanted to do, and he loved it. He told my husband that if anything happened, don't feel bad: 'I'm doing what I want to do.'"

Michael Blaise attended technical school for a year before joining the Army, which was something he had always wanted, his father said. He last visited his family in the summer, when his grandfather was dying.

Terry Blaise last spoke with his son by telephone early last week.

Terry Blaise said his son felt strongly about serving in Iraq. He told his father that Iraqis would often come up and thank him for his service.

"He was very proud to serve his country, and I'm proud of him for it," Terry Blaise said.