Alva Leslie Bleau, the son of Constant and Mary Brooks Bleau, was born on November 12, 1927, in Selkirk, New York. He went to Bethlehem Central Schools and was a member of the Boy Scouts. Alva enjoyed racing stock cars.
In 1946, Alva enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was a Corporal in Company A of the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. Alva was killed in battle on June 11, 1951, during the Battle of the "Punchbowl" in North Korea. He is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Bethlehem Center, New York.
Alva enjoyed writing poems while he was in the military. This was his mother’s favorite, it’s about Memorial Day.
Long, long ago when our land was young,
When our flag was new, and our freedom begun,
The youth of this country went forth and fought
To preserve the principles they’d been taught.
They carried the banner of freedom bright.
They proved to the world it was worth a fight,
First in our land and then across the sea,
They preserved that freedom for both you and me.
Now once again comes that day of remembering
To the graves of those hero’s we all want to bring
Flowers and wreaths, all the tokens of love and esteem,
But what to the dead can they mean?
Far better to let our remembering be helpful,
Let our token to hero’s be useful,
In the block where you live or the shop on your street
Is there some hero who could stand a lift?
Or is some hero’s mother left alone and blue?
The ones remembered are all too few,
So let’s remember the hero’s all the year
By helping the ones our hero’s held dear.
Let our memoriam to all hero’s be
Peace and love to mankind in this land of the free,
And if to some soldiers grave you would bring
Flowers or flags or anthems to sing,
Why not instead find some lonely heart.
Some child maybe who needs help to start?
It may not be that soldiers kin,
But aren’t we all brothers under the skin.
Those boys gave their youth-yes-some gave their all
That their light of freedom never should fall,
So give them your tribute of love and to God let us pray
That those who come after may keep it that way.
Alva Leslie Bleau
Earl Bennett Bratback, from Tacoma, Washington, was Alva's friend. They both served in the same company during the Korean War. On April 25, 1951, Earl was killed in action. Alva wrote a poem about Earl and mailed it to Earl's mother. Alva was killed in action two months later. Mrs. Bratback traveled all the way from Washington to Selkirk, New York, to see the Bleau family a few years after the war ended. They kept in touch even after their boys died.
This is the story of a fighting Marine
Who fought in this war's bloodiest scene.
"Twas Corporal Bratback, leader of our squad,
Whose orders we followed with a smile and a nod.
Fighting our way from death's own trap,
The enemy never caught him taking a nap.
But after the trap, there came a patrol,
The object of course, was the top of the knoll.
As we climbed exhausted, onto the top,
A pill box in front caused us to stop.
Without further delay, "Brat" charged up the hill
Threw is frag, and then paid the bill;
For as the grenade dropped in on the enemy
One shot rang out and poor Earl began to sink.
Our squad a few feet in the rear
Winked aside a small and a troubled tear.
For we knew our leader and our friend
Fighting for us had come to life's end.