Hispanic Americans in Congress, 1822-1995
Ben Blaz Garrido was born in Agana, Guam on February 14, 1928, and lived on the island during the three years of Japanese occupation during World War II. In 1951 he graduated from the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana. After graduation he joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. In 1963 he earned an M.A. degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and graduated from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island in 1971. He retired from military service in 1981 with the rank of brigadier general. He earned a number of distinctions and awards during his service, including the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Medal with Combat "V", the Navy Commendation Medal, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.
In 1984 Blaz was elected Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first Hispanic from Guam in Congress. He was reelected to the next three Congresses. During his first term in the U.S. House of Representatives, he was assigned to the Armed Services, and Interior and Insular Affairs Committees. In his first term, Blaz introduced the Veterans' Educational Assistance Act that expanded eligibility for assistance under the GI bill. He also supported federal assistance for other educational programs, including funding for a vocational education program, and he sponsored a bill to improve elementary and secondary education.
In the 100th Congress, in addition to Blaz's previous committee assignments, he served on the Select Committee on Aging, as a conferee to the Department of Defense appropriations, and was a member of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and the Foreign Affairs Committee. He worked on the extension of benefits to Guam and the territories, including supplemental social security. He also introduced a bill that would have returned three thousand acres of land taken by the U.S. Government during World War II to the local population in Guam. After an unsuccessful bid for reelection in 1992, Blaz returned to Guam, where he is a resident of Ordot.