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Servicemen reunited after 26 years apart

December 26, 2011

Ed Tackett (left), in 1946, while serving in the United States Coast Guard. Tackett and his crew were rescued by Jack Seabloom (right) after falling asleep at sea.

Not many servicemen or women have the distinction of serving in two branches of the armed services within a 48-hour period.
The late Jack Seabloom had such an opportunity.
One morning in 1946, Seabloom was called in for a special mission. His superiors dismissed him from the Army with an honorable discharge and, minutes later, inducted him into the U.S. Coast Guard.
"There was a ship that was just moving in circles. Apparently, the crew had fallen asleep. It had gotten turned around and almost collided. They wanted him to go wake (the crew) up, " said his wife, Michelle Seabloom.
"Seabloom sailed out to the ship and began making loud signals," she said. "The seamen roused and were saved."`
Moments later Seabloom was re-inducted into the Army.
Jack Seabloom was always tenacious, courting Michelle — then Thomas — for years before finally marrying Dec. 8, 1951.
"We lived in the same neighborhood in Chicago. Every night we'd go home about the same time, and we would pass each other on the sidewalk. He would tip his hat. He finally asked if he could introduce himself to me. I was 25; he was 27," Michelle said.
"He ran after me for years. My birth mom was married five times; I was not going to get married. He told me, 'I know the problem. It is not that you don't love me; you just don't know what love is. I'm going to teach you,'" Michelle added.
Seabloom, one of three boys and a girl to Helena and David O. Seabloom, was born Oct. 20, 1924. Growing up in De Land, Fla., Seabloom attended Stetson University for a year before enlisting in the Army. His mother wrote music for John Heney, the last living survivor of the Sousa Band, and her children were allowed to attend free.
After serving in the Army, Seabloom attended college, graduating with a degree in engineering. He found a job working for a firm in Chicago and married Michelle shortly thereafter.
The newlyweds enjoyed a working honeymoon in Indiana, where Jack built a duck processing farm. While there, the Seablooms had the opportunity to not only meet, but Michelle changed the diaper of, 15-month-old Paul Rockefeller because Jack was working on a project at their home.
"After three months we moved back to Chicago, where we started our family, which included four daughters," Michelle said.
It wasn't until Michelle's adoptive father died that the Seablooms moved to Benton. "It was Jack's idea. He said, 'your adoptive mom is all alone. Let's move there,'" Michelle said.
Michelle had grown up in Benton, but it didn't take long for Seabloom to assimilate into the community. He began working at Fagan Electric and became involved in Teen Challenge of Arkansas, a biblically based, nonprofit rehabilitation drug program for men.
"Jack was the sports director at Teen Challenge of Arkansas. He counseled the boys and taught them sports. We had a home with a swimming pool and both basketball and tennis courts. He'd let the boys come here and play," Michelle said.
Jack's legacy lives on at Teen Challenge, where there is a chapel that bears his name. Michelle has continued their service for the last 40 years.
Seabloom remained active in the community after retirement. He continued working with Teen Challenge, and was involved in his church, First Baptist.
"Jack was a great guy. He spent a lot of time at First Baptist and with his girls. He went out of his way to help people," said Lib Carlisle, Seabloom's cousin.
In May of 1972 the Seablooms had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to the Holy Land. They accompanied the pastor of First Assembly of God in Havana, Ark., Edward Tackett and his wife, Ruth. They met them in Philadelphia the night before they were to depart. As Tackett and Seabloom were becoming acquainted, they realized they were in the service about the same time.
According to Michelle, Tackett said, "Jack, it's a miracle I am here. I was outside on the ship and fell asleep. Someone kept making these awful sounds."
"Jack said, 'Did it sound like this?'," Michelle explained.
"Yes," Tackett replied.
"That was me in the boat sending the signals," Seabloom said.
"It was a divine appointment that they met," Michelle said. According to her, "Tackett said, 'I've been praying for 20 years to meet the man who saved my life. I prayed, 'Father, if I can't meet him here, then please make him a Christian so I can meet him and thank him in Heaven.'"
Jack Seabloom, a doting father and husband, esteemed sailor and faithful servant, died from a cerebral hemorrhage one month later.
The Tacketts and Michelle Seabloom remained friends; Ed Tackett married all four Seabloom daughters.
Upon learning of Seabloom's death, John J. Heney sent a letter of condolence to Michelle. It began, "This is a difficult letter to write. When God makes a decision, what does a mortal say? In spite of our strong belief that He always does what is best, we were saddened by the loss of Jack. Looking back over a period of many years and knowing him as a little kid in the fifth grade and then seeing him mature to a crusader in Jesus' kingdom brings to us a sense of joy and exhilaration as it must have to all his many friends."

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