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Radio Free Mormon: 052: A Whale of a Tale II -This Time It’s Personal!

BREAKING NEWS:  More information has been forthcoming regarding Ensign Blair’s Miraculous rescue of his Navy Ship in a Typhoon

Today RFM informs NEW additional forthcoming details along with hashing up some old ones…. ha ha ha ha ha ha muaaaahhhhhhhhhh.

Ensign Frank Blair (shown in photo above) told Elder Larry Wilson a miraculous story about his inspired resolution to issues aboard his navy ship in the midst of a typhoon during the Korean War.  The trouble is the details of this story are less believable than the tale of the crew of the S.S. Minnow.  Below are a list of issues with Ensign Blair’s story.

#1 – his story has a captain leaving the bridge during a typhoon to make way to Ensign Blair’s cabin. This seems to break navy code

#2 –  his story has the Captain permitting Ensign Blair to go out on the deck to “gather info” during a typhoon w/ 45′ foot waves. This would be against good judgement and dangerous.

#3 – Notice the reason for the fact finding mission in #3 is made null and void by the fact that Captain and Engineer are already discussing a solution to the problem (their gauges told them the issue) when Ensign Blair shows up to the Bridge.  That God in essence sent Ensign Blair on the deck to risk his life to gather info hence discovering a problem the Captain and Engineer already knew. In other words his walking the deck was unnecessary as the gauges on the bridge communicated the same info. The issue was not knowing the problem, but rather deciding a solution.  Why would God put Ensign Blair in such unneeded risk to learn something already known?

#4 – Also the newspaper clipping (shown above and dated August 19, 1955) has him serving on the U.S.S. Marion County. While Elder Wilson tells us the Ship has three engines, it actually only has two.

#5.) Ensign Blair claims to see the propellers (also called screws) from the deck after securing himself to the the deck in a typhoon, at night, with 45′ waves. The propellers or screws as they are called are below the boat tucked away from the outside edge. Think through what angle he would have to be at leaning off the side of the boat to see the crews as they come up out of the water in a typhoon. Think about what it would take to secure himself and manually lengthen or shorten the rope he is tied to. This story is absurd and false.( See sketch below)

#6 – While the newspaper (above) tells us Ensign Blair was a Chaplain, Elder Wilson tells us that there was no Chaplain and Ensign Blair, the upright religious sailor that he was, filled in.  Who informed the Newspaper that Blair held the officer title of Chaplain?  If Ensign Blair himself, then such is a deceptive and dishonest move as to claim a title one did not officially and legitimately hold would raise eyebrows.

#7 – Elder Wilson refers to the propellers as “giant propellers” but as you can see on the image below this style ship had very small propellers, due to the need to get up on land to drop tanks off.

#8 – Elder Wilson starts this story with “During the Korean War”.  Except as seen in the newspaper clipping above (which was dated Aug 19, 1955), Ensign Blair did not begin his 2 year military stint until after the Korean War had ended (Korean War ended July 1953).

Taken in its totality…. This faith promoting story from General Conference… well…. It simply didn’t happen.  Sorry.  God Magic still unconfirmed!!!



27 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 052: A Whale of a Tale II -This Time It’s Personal!”

  1. Looking at the picture of LST 325 with the metal guards placed above the screws on the side of the hull, it seems plausible that one could view the screws from the side of the ship rather than the rear. Nevertheless, the other facets of the story are still implausible.

    1. I agree with FFM. As much as the story has huge issues, the existence of the metal guards to prevent things from falling into the props seems to indicate they are visible. I’m going solely from the picture, but I do believe that part is plausible.

  2. It is clear to me that if I stand on the side near the back, which tapers to a v, I could see along the side and view the propeller. There is a four foot vertical, and then the side slopes. Just look at the piping that was attached to stop items from falling near the propeller. At least this clue seems plausible.

    1. Four points:

      1) The story was told as follows: “Standing on the stern, he observed the giant propellers as they came out of the water when the ship crested a wave.”

      So he wasn’t on the side, but the stern (rear of ship). But he could have been to the far left or right of the stern, and judging by the picture, MAYBE there’s an angle where he could have had visibility of one of the engines. IF there was light, MAYBE he could have seen.

      2) It was dark. Was he holding a powerful light that would have illuminated objects (the propellers) 20-25 feet away? He would have been holding on for dear life presumably with BOTH hands and not able to operate a flash light. And I doubt there were lights BELOW the ship shining directly on the propellers (seems far fetched to suggest lights would be shining on the props), but we don’t know. In other words, the darkness/ ocean spray would have rendered seeing the propeller IMPOSSIBLE.

      3) We don’t know if the picture above is the identical design of the ship Blair was on. With enough research, that should be verifiable.

      4) It would have been a terrifying experience on the deck of the boat with personal death a very real possibility. I would think the mind would have been in a frenzied STAY ALIVE mode, with adrenaline flowing at peak levels (like running from a bear), and therefore it seems frankly preposterous to claim to have had the ability to be making calm and collected scientific observations.

  3. When it sounds too “tall” to be true, it probably is and needs to be questioned. Are we brave enough, have enough integrity to Choose The Right and qualify things to truth (Jesus)?

    1. …or, will be be quiet and not question, as “commanded” by anointed tall talers? Dare to be true? Dare to choose Jesus?:

  4. My father served on the LST 166 from about May, 1944 until early in 1946. These ships were very versatile and were used to carry all kinds of things, including on occasion- army or marine troops. My father was part of the invasions of Saipan and Okinawa. His ship was also caught in a typhoon off the coast of Okinawa. After the war, his ship made port calls at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki carrying in supplies. I believe on of those cargos was telephone poles. When I worked at the Defense Nuclear Agency in Arlington, VA (1993 – 1996) I learned DNA kept a record of all veterans who were exposed to radiation. I found the office and found the record of my father on their lists.

    In about 2009, I took my dad to Evansville Indiana for LST Week. They have the WWII era LST 325 moored on the Ohio River. The boat is completely seaworthy, and we went on a short cruise on the boat. We climbed all over that ship from the front doors to the rear of the ship. It was a very fun time for both of us.

    I agree with your basic premise, that this story cannot possibly be true according to the way it was told. Seeing the screws under the boat at night in 45′ waves. IMPOSSIBLE. My dad said you could hear the screws wind up when they came out of the water.

    Anyway, thanks for the story.

    1. Look at the newspaper clipping above on this page. Its dated is august 19 1955. We also have seen the June 1953 clipping that says

      “according to Lt. Comdr. D. L. Monson, commander of the unit. Keith B. Mathews of Midvale, will be commissioned an ensign In the U. S. Naval Reserve upon completion of two months of training this Summer at Newport, R. I. J. Lowell Steck, ion of Mr. and Mr». Eldon Steck of Roy, Utah, and Frank S. Blair, ion of Mr. J. Clifford Blair of Ogden, will complete two months of training in the reserve officer! program at Treasure Island and upoh graduation will receive their commissions as ensigns in the Naval reserve. This is their second year at the officers school.”

  5. Great compilation of factual events.

    It should be noted that every Area Authority 70′ gets trained on telling factual stories and they cite Paul H. Dunn as an example.

    I know through personal connections that this is the case. The church wants to avoid Paul H. Dunn scandals and instructs their newly call 70′ members to avoid telling tall tales least they be released from their callings…

    1. It it my understanding that you would constantly be adjusting the amount of power I order to be in the appropriate position on each wave, so set speed would not a benefit at all.

      1. I don’t recall, but I can ask… although I have lost a lot of good will lately from my father in law, and he is likely not tell me things he might have otherwise done in the past.

        Apparently I’m no longer trustworthy.

        1. Sorry David, I was being sarcastic. I was referring to Elder Holland having to walk back the untruthful story about the missionary who tracted out his Hell’s Angel brother. I thought how ironic it would be if Elder Holland was giving the training you were referring to since he was guilty of telling whoppers too. Good luck with your Father-in-Law

  6. RFM, the premise of the whole story irrelevant, one only needs to realize that the power of the engines needs to constanlty adjusted in order to have a chance to be in the correct position of each individual wave.

  7. If Mr. Blair saved the entire ship by such bravery that was beyond heroic there certainly is his military medal of honor or other commendation we could see?

  8. Some additional background for your listeners:

    According to the July 15, 1986 edition of the Davis County Clipper, Frank S. Blair holds a doctorate in Education from BYU, a Master’s in curriculum development from the University of Utah, and a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Utah. It indicatws achieved the ranked of Ensign at Reserve Officers school. He was an elementary and junior high principal at taught at the BYU Ogden Center.

    New talents and interests can be pursued in a public library, he said, with reading, “a vicarious way of having EXPERIENCES YOU CAN’T GAIN ANOTHER WAY.”

  9. The amazing thing about the email exchange is that Elder Wilson refuses to even hypothetically admit error in judgment.

    How easy it would be to email Bill back saying,

    “Look, I’m not a seaman; I know this brother personally and trusted him, and so I didn’t vet his story as I should have and confess I didn’t see any holes in his story. However, I can definitely see how one could challenge the credibility of the story with all the points you’ve made. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. In the future, I’ll be more careful in fact checking. As for this story, what can I say, the brother stands by his story. I can’t answer your questions. I do see your point of view, but would refer you to the brother for clarification. I apologize for reporting a story that might have some inaccuracies in it. Have a nice day.”

    It seems the General Authorities have so much pride (“loftiness”) that they can’t even see their folly and pitiful state. And to be honest, this prideful attitude trickles down to local leadership quite often at the stake and ward levels. The inability of them to EVER say “I’m sorry” is fulfillment of the allegory of the olive trees in Jacob 5.

    “Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard? And it came to pass that the servant said unto his master: Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good?”

    A simple statement of fallibility like the one above would go a MILLION MILES toward taking the attention off them and actually endearing them to members of the Church. OF COURSE Elder Wilson could have been suckered. He could have been a dumb-ass. So what? This could have happened to lots of us, esp if it was told to us by somebody we trusted. What is inexcusable and deplorable is the pretense of infallibility. What, are GA’s told to NEVER admit wrong doing?

    Will they lose their perks, their salaries? What would motivate them to not act like normal, error-prone humans? Perhaps they’re bound to their “prophet”, as Nelson teaches that “sustaining” him is an “oath-like” commitment that “binds” us to him. Maybe that’s what’s going on here? I don’t know. But seriously, when is the last or even first time one of the Brethren has publicly admitted error, has fallen on the sword in an act of humility? I can’t think of one. I don’t recall, would Holland’s retraction qualify? I think he was compelled to retract after the fact was known he was duped.

  10. Everyone knows deep down that these stories are faith promoting exaggerations. Mormons love this stuff because it validates their wishful thinking. It would indeed be nice if these stories were real.

    Likewise it would be nice if WWE events were real, how awesome would that be! But people still suspend disbelief because it’s so much more interesting to do so.


    Regarding: Elder Wilson’s talk in April 2018 General Conference. I am a US Navy veteran, with experience in very heavy weather in the Far East in the 50s. I would like to comment on this post, as there are errors in the points made at the top of the post. Background: When I first arrived in Japan in 1954, my ship, the USS Jason ARH-1, went out for a typhoon. I experienced seeing waves 40-50 feet above the normal waterline of this 530-ft ship (about 1,100 officers and crew). I saw and heard the screws (propellers) come out of the water. The ship Frank Blair was on was a much smaller LST, 328-ft long, with a crew of 10 officers and 90 men.
    Here are my comments on what you see as problems. I have photos to illustrate my comments, but I cannot see how to post them.:

    #1 The captain left the bridge to Ensign Blair’s cabin? Officers’ quarters were about 2 minutes away, down a single staircase (officer cabins directly below the bridge ), and this would not be a problem at all, with another duty officer on the bridge.

    #2 The captain permitted Ensign Blair to go on deck during the storm? Perhaps somewhat dangerous, but it is done all the time, even in a typhoon. I went on deck during a typhoon without a line, but I was on a larger ship.

    #3 Reason for mission null and void? That simply is not true. Even on a large ship, officers ask for suggestions and help. The bridge on an LST is very small, with limited readouts of status. The engineer had suggested one course of action, and the captain asked for Ensign Blair’s help.

    #4 Two or three engines? Yes, the USS Marion County has two engines, but it has three main generators. Perhaps Elder Wilson misunderstood the explanation.

    #5 View of the screws (propellers) from the deck? Even in the photo you show of the LST 325, the screws appear visible from the deck, but I have another photo showing the ship in plan view. It shows that the screws actually EXTEND beyond the side of the ship, and that is why the heavy external guard rails are on the stern of the ship. Your sketch is wrong.

    #6 Chaplain or not? Perhaps Ensign Blair told the paper he was an unofficial chaplain, and the newspaper just put “Chaplain” for brevity. Your argument of “deceptive and dishonest” is overblown.

    #7 Giant propellers? The screws are large, even “giant.” In your photo of LST 325 they look to be at least as tall as the man near them, perhaps 6-7 ft in diameter. They could not be “tiny,” because the ship carried very heavy tanks and other equipment in ocean crossings.

    # 8 Newspaper clipping of 19 August 1955? There was still Korean War action in the 1950s even after the war (which I saw and received a war service ribbon for). Ensign Blair later must have gone back on active duty in the Navy, because documents available on Ancestry shows he retired in 1980 with the rank of Commander.


    I believe you need to check your facts, as well as your testimony.

    Orion Wood

  12. The comments I have were just tiny details I caught from RFM’s Whale of a tale. He mentions Ensign Blair “enlisting” in the Navy. The correct term for Officers when they join a military branch of service is a “commission”.
    The other thing was the newspaper clip mentioning his 2 years at sea. I don’t think that counts his total time in service because in the clipping he is an LT which is O3 and an Ensign is O1. It takes like 4 years or more to put on O3.
    So for this story to have happened with him being an Ensign it would have had to have happened in 1950 or so before he would have put on LTJG (O2) for a couple years to then put on LT at the time of the article.
    Hope that made sense, but the timeline of his rank progression doesn’t fit well with the story vs. the news clipping.

  13. I know Frank Blair personally, and he does not tell Whoppers. He is a 92 year old man (89 at the time of this story) and he has forgotten some of the details. Wouldn’t you? Also some things where miscommunicated in transit to Elder Wilson and the narrative to for his talk. for example, Elder Wilson asked Frank how many engines there were, and Frank could not remember. His son and possibly Elder Wilson tried to look it up based on a comparable ship and guessed it was two or three, but were not certain. Also, it was during the time of the Korean war, but he was never actively fighting in that war, nor claims to do so beyond two months in the summer you cited from the clippings. I have seen Frank’s Korean war pin on his uniform. He thought the typhoon happened after that summer but they were still stationed in Asia following the exact ending date of the war finishing up their duties there. Elder Wilson was simply meaning to give an era for his audience. When Frank was being interviewed, he said the stern is a wide area and he wasn’t exactly in the middle, but near the side where he could see the propeller but even more so hear it. He was tied on by a rope and had a latern with him. The ship was very small and since he was one of few officers, Blair did have direct contact with the captain in his room, mostly thanks to trust and advice he had previously given the captain in other incidences, as well as the captain hearing him give a sermon on prayer. Blair said the newspaper article was wrong, that he was designated an “informal chaplain” because the ship was too small for a regular one.

    1. The story seems absurd on multiple levels. Surely there is some evidence that this story happened. I would welcome that evidence and if strong RFM and I (Bill Reel) would publicly apologize. Surely there is a handful of sailors still living from this event and could collaborate. Surely there is a write up somewhere of this incredible miracle story from the military itself. otherwise this story has too many holes and beyond my meter for being reasonable and believable.

  14. Blair went into the Navy reserves and that’s why was listed commander in 1980. And he actually did enlist. He did that on purpose so he could choose Navy before he would have had to draft for army or something. I have heard him tell that story and army was not very happy about it.

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