Former chief of National Guard Bureau named as ‘Great Floridian’

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A Florida National Guard Soldier and former chief of the National Guard Bureau was honored posthumously by the State of Florida recently for his significant contributions to his home-state during his lifetime.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Albert Hazen Blanding, who died in 1970, was honored with the “Great Floridian” designation during a ceremony in Tallahassee on March 21.

The Great Floridian designation is presented annually “in recognition of outstanding achievements of men and women who have made significant contributions” to Florida.

Former Floridians given the distinction include Spanish explorer Pedro Menendez de Aviles and author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

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Adjutant general of the Florida National Guard Air Force Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw Jr. accepted the award from Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner on behalf of the Florida National Guard.

Blanding was born in Iowa in 1876 and moved to Florida at the age of two. He graduated from the East Florida Seminary – currently University of Florida – in 1894, and enlisted in the Florida State Troops – the forerunner of the Florida National Guard – in 1895.

After being commissioned in 1899 and promoted to colonel in 1909 Blanding commanded infantry Soldiers along the Mexican Border until 1917.

During World War I he served as a brigadier general in Western Europe, earning the Distinguished Service Medal for leading the attack on German forces at the Hindenberg Line in Northeastern France.

In 1936 he was appointed the chief of the National Guard Bureau by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, serving in that position until 1940. He was promoted to Lieutenant General prior to his retirement in 1940.

Blanding died on Dec. 26, 1970 and Camp Blanding Joint Training Center in Starke, Fla., is named for him.

The Great Floridians program is sponsored by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Historical Resources.