Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Oral History Interview

Summary Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives
Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Oral History Interview
0.75 Linear feet
Personal recollections and descriptions of the life and career of Brigadier General William A. Bloomer and of his wife, Sharon Sue Vernon Bloomer.

Preferred Citation note

Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Oral History Interview, Emporia State University Archives, Emporia State University.

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Biographical/Historical note

William A. “Art” Bloomer was born on January 23, 1933, in Bellaire, Kansas, to James Charles Bloomer and Netty Alice Baker Bloomer. Art Bloomer graduated from Lebanon High School in 1951 and enrolled in Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia that year. While in college in Emporia, Bloomer majored in mathematics and physics. He was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity, and was a varsity letterman in the K-Club for four years in both football and basketball. Bloomer’s military career started while he was in college with service in the Kansas National Guard beginning October 24, 1951. However, he received a draft notice for active duty service in 1953. In order to avoid leaving college, Bloomer signed up for the Marine Corps Reserve’s Platoon Leaders Class, a commissioning program which would allow him to do his Marine Corps training in the summer and finish college. Because he entered the program later in college than usual, rather than two six-week training sessions in two different summers, Bloomer was scheduled for all twelve weeks of training in the summer of 1954, between his junior and senior years of college. Bloomer married Sharon Sue Vernon on May 30, 1954, just two weeks before leaving for his Marine Corps training. Bloomer received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps Reserve in June of 1955, although he did not actually graduate from Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia until the end of the summer semester. The Bloomers’ daughter Leigh Anne was born in August 1955.

Bloomer’s active duty military career began in September 1955 when he was stationed in Quantico, Virginia, for Basic School, the Marine Corps’ training program for all newly commissioned officers. In 1956 he was stationed at Marine Corps Air Facility (MCAF) Santa Ana, California. The Bloomers’ son Jeffry was born in 1957. Bloomer received a regular commission in 1957, and in July of that year he was transferred to Pensacola, Florida, for naval flight training. After completing advanced flight training in Kingsville, Texas, Bloomer became a flight instructor in 1958. The Bloomers’ daughter Brenda was born in 1958. Bloomer was promoted to Captain in December 1959. In 1960 Bloomer was a reconnaissance squadron pilot based in El Toro, California. His squadron was deployed overseas and was based in Iwakuni, Japan, for 13 months. He returned to California in November 1962. In 1965 he began Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and became a project test pilot in 1966. Bloomer was promoted to Major in June 1966. From April of 1968 to May of 1969 Bloomer served with Marine Reconnaissance Squadron 1 in combat operations based out of DaNang, Vietnam. During that time he flew 330 combat missions, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V,” and 17 air medals. In May of 1969 Bloomer began an assignment to study management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He completed his Master of Science degree in management in August 1970. His next assignment was at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where he became commanding officer of the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron based there. Bloomer was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in October 1971. During his assignment in Hawaii Bloomer also taught management courses as an adjunct professor for the University of Southern California. In 1973 Bloomer was selected for studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing his studies in 1974 he was assigned to be commanding officer of Marine Composite Reconnaissance Squadron 1 based in Iwakuni, Japan. In April 1975, Bloomer’s squadron was aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Midway for Operation Frequent Wind, the evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. In July 1975 Bloomer’s participation in training exercises with the Taiwanese Air Force was recognized by the award of pilot wings and the Kuang Hua Medal. Following the 1975 deployment, Marine Reconnaissance Squadron 1 was decommissioned, and Bloomer’s next assignment was as a member of an Advanced Amphibious Study Group in Quantico, Virginia, in September 1975. In June 1976, Bloomer was promoted to Colonel, and began an assignment as Special Assistant and Marine Corps Aide to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington, D.C. Bloomer served with two Secretaries under two different presidential administrations: first with J. William Middendorf II until 1977, and then with W. Graham Claytor, Jr., from 1977 to 1979. In July 1979, Bloomer began his assignment as Assistant Chief of Staff (G-3) for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, stationed in Cherry Point, North Carolina, and moved up to Chief of Staff in June 1980. In April 1981, Bloomer was promoted to Brigadier General and served as Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. In August 1983, Bloomer was stationed in El Toro, California, as Assistant Wing Commander of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In February 1984, he became Commanding General of the 5th Marine Amphibious Brigade. In July 1984, Bloomer became the Commander of Marine Corps Air Bases, Western Area, and Commanding General of Marine Corps Air Station, El Toro, California. In 1985 Emporia State University Alumni Association named Bloomer a Distinguished Alumnus. Bloomer retired from the Marine Corps in June 1986. Following his retirement from the Marines in 1986, Bloomer became an executive for American Protective Services, a private security company in California. While working in California, Bloomer also entered local politics. He was appointed a public safety commissioner by the mayor of Irvine. Bloomer ran for office for the Irvine City Council in 1988, but he was defeated in that election. He worked as finance commissioner for an Irvine City Council member from 1988 to 1990. In June 1990, Bloomer was elected to the Irvine City council. In 1993 he resigned from the Irvine City Council in order to continue his primary job with American Protective Services, moving to Virginia to oversee the eastern region of the company’s expanding business. Bloomer left the security business in 2000 and in 2001 he moved back to California to take a job as executive director of the Orange County Regional Airport Authority, which was trying to establish a regional airport at the former air base at El Toro, which the Marine Corps had closed in 1999. Bloomer worked for the Airport Authority until June 2002. Soon after that he became chief executive officer of Integrated Data Corporation, a computer software development company doing defense contracting work. In August 2002, Bloomer began serving as a trustee on the Phi Sigma Kappa Foundation, which is made up of the merger of the former Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity that Bloomer had been in as a college student in Emporia, and the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. In 2003 Bloomer was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Emporia State University Foundation. Since 2004 Bloomer has resided in Wichita, Kansas.

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Scope and Contents note

Five interview sessions are recorded on 7 cassette tapes (and 7 backup cassette tapes) with a 124-page transcript and a floppy disk containing the transcript document. The interviews were conducted by Max Krause of Emporia State University Archives. The first four interview sessions are with Bloomer, and the fifth session is with Bloomer and his wife, Sharon Sue Vernon Bloomer. Topics discussed in the interviews include information on the Bloomer family background and Bloomer’s relatives, childhood experiences, and religious practices. There are discussions of Bloomer’s college career at Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia, his marriage to Sharon Sue Vernon, their children, and the military lifestyle. Bloomer described his Marine Corps career, some dangerous experiences as a pilot, and his civilian career after retiring from the Marine Corps. Bloomer and his wife discussed recollections of famous people and events, politics, local Kansas events, their return to Kansas and reunions with school friends, and the Vernon family.

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Arrangement note

The collection is arranged by chronological order of the interview sessions. The transcript of the interviews is physically divided into file folders corresponding to the starting points of the cassette tapes. The first transcript page of each file folder corresponds to a starting point of a cassette tape, and may contain a portion of the end of the previous transcript section continued from the previous file folder.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Emporia State University Special Collections and Archives

1200 Commercial St
Campus Box 4051
Emporia, KS, 66801
(620) 341-6431

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Related Materials

Related Archival Materials note

The Brigadier General William A. Bloomer Collection (NA2003.0001) contains extensive information on Bloomer. The Sunflower yearbooks from 1952 to 1955 contain individual photographs of Bloomer as well as photographs of Bloomer with the football teams, basketball teams, K-Club, and the Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. The  Bulletin newspaper issue of December 18, 1953, contains an engagement announcement for Sue Vernon and Art Bloomer. The  Emporia Gazette issue of June 11, 1954, contains a report on the Vernon-Bloomer wedding. An article on Bloomer receiving the Emporia State University Distinguished Alumnus Award is in The  Bulletin issue of October 24, 1985. The Emporia State University Archives Website has an online exhibit titled  “When you hear the news back home …” The Career of Brigadier General William A. Bloomer (U.S.M.C., Ret.) displaying several items about Bloomer. Other collections related to military service include the Alvin E. Morris Papers (2005.0008) and the World War II Veterans Series, Flint Hills Oral History Project (ESU003.004.010).

Separated Materials note


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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Emporia State University Foundation -- Board of Directors.
  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Awards.
  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Basketball.
  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Football.
  • Kansas State Teachers College of Emporia -- Student activities and organizations.
  • Lebanon High School (Lebanon, Kan.) -- Students.
  • Marine Corps Air Station El Toro (Calif.).
  • Naval War College (U.S.) -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Naval War College (U.S.) -- Students.
  • Orange County Regional Airport Authority (Orange County, Calif.).
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- Alumni and alumnae.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- Students.
  • United States Naval Test Pilot School -- Students.
  • United States. Marine Corps -- Aviation.
  • United States. Marine Corps -- Medals, badges, decorations, etc.
  • United States. Marine Corps -- Military life.
  • United States. Marine Corps -- Officers.
  • United States. Marine Corps.
  • United States. Navy Dept. -- Officials and employees.
  • University of Southern California -- Faculty.

Personal Name(s)

  • Bloomer, Sharon Sue Vernon -- Family.
  • Bloomer, Sharon Sue Vernon.
  • Bloomer, William A., 1933- -- Family.
  • Bloomer, William Arthur "Art", Brigadier General, 1933 - .
  • Claytor, W. Graham (William Graham), 1912-1994.
  • Krause, Max.
  • Middendorf, John William, 1924-


  • Aerial reconnaissance, American.
  • Air bases -- California -- Orange County.
  • Air pilots, Military -- United States.
  • College students -- Kansas -- Emporia -- Societies and clubs.
  • College students -- Kansas -- Emporia.
  • High school students -- Kansas -- Lebanon.
  • Irvine (Calif.) -- Politics and government.
  • Marines.
  • Military decorations--United States.
  • Operation Frequent Wind.
  • Orange County (Calif.) -- Politics and government.
  • Students -- Kansas -- Emporia
  • Students -- Kansas -- Emporia -- Societies and clubs.
  • Students -- New York -- Troy.
  • Students -- Rhode Island -- Newport.
  • Test pilots.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Aerial operations, American.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Evacuation of civilians.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- United States.

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Collection Inventory

Box Cassette

Interview with General W.A. Bloomer Tape 1 of 7 (Original), November 7 and 11,2003. 

1 1

Tape 2 of 7 (Original), November 7, and 11, 2003. 

1 2

Tape 3 of 7 (Original), November 7 and 11, 2003. 

1 3

Tape 4 of 7 (Original), November 7 and 11, 2003. 

1 4

Tape 5 of 7 (Original), June 18 and July 14, 2004. 

1 5

Tape 6 of 7 (Original), June 18 and July 14, 2004. 

1 6

Tape 7 of 7 (Original), September 15, 2004. 

1 7

Interview with General W.A. Bloomer Tape 1 of 7 (Original), November 7 and 11, 2003. 

1 1

Tape 2 of 7 (Backup), November 7, and 11, 2003. 

1 2

Tape 3 of 7 (Backup), November 7 and 11, 2003. 

1 3

Tape 4 of 7 (Backup), November 7 and 11, 2003. 

1 4

Tape 5 of 7 (Backup), June 18 and July 14, 2004. 

1 5

Tape 6 of 7 (Backup), June 18 and July 14, 2004. 

1 6
Box Folder

Tape 7 of 7 (Backup), September 15, 2004. 

1 7

Transcript pages 1-18 (Tape 1, sides A and B), November 7, 2003. 

2 1

Transcript pages 19-34 (Tape 2, sides A and B), November 7, 2003. 

2 2

Transcript pages 35-56 (Tape 3, sides A and B, Tape 4, side A), November 11, 2003. 

2 3

Transcript pages 57- 77 (Tape 5, sides A and B), June 18 and July 14, 2004. 

2 4

Transcript pages 78-95 (Tape 6, sides A and B), July 14, 2004. 

2 5

Transcript pages 96-124 (Tape 7, sides A and B), September 15, 2004. 

2 6

Floppy disk containing Edited Version of Interview transcript document file, April 22, 2005. 

2 7