During World War II, Thomas M. Blanchard, Sr., served as communications officer on the PCE(R)-848, one of a massive flotilla of ships that participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. As young Lieutenant Blanchard and his shipmates made their way to the waters surrounding the Philippines, he spotted a vessel that carried Alex Barrett, a friend from Augusta. A new father, Blanchard proudly signaled to his friend that his wife, Anne, had given birth to their first child. Just months later, Blanchard and his shipmates found themselves engaged in the largest naval battle in human history, one that included a deadly new tactic: kamikaze attacks. More than 15,000 lives were lost over the span of a few days, including six men on Blanchard’s ship. Countless others were gravely injured. Blanchard was fortunate. He returned from the war in November 1945 and joined the company founded by his father, Big George. The United States flag that flew on his ship hangs in the corporate offices, a reminder of Mr. Blanchard’s service to our country and the service of the more than 11 veterans who currently work for Blanchard and Calhoun.