Family Welcomes Home Former 'Unknown Soldier'
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, July 10) -- The family of Michael Blassie, the solider whose remains lay unidentified in the Tomb of the Unknowns for 14 years, welcomed home their fallen hero Friday, more than a quarter century after his death.
"Michael served and fought and died for his country. Then he served as the unknown soldier representing the thousands who haven't come home for 14 years," said Pat Blassie, his youngest sister. "He is still serving today because he now represents those who need to come home.
"Although this is really important to us as a family, it is really important to our country because, I think, we have forgotten those who have fought and died for us, " Pat Blassie said.
Blassie's brother George accompanied the U.S. Air Force lieutenant's remains from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Friday morning.
The family has invited the public to attend Blassie's funeral at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, Mo., Saturday.
"Because of what has happened and the significance of where Michael was -- our family, together, realized that it wasn't just a Michael Blassie or Blassie family issue anymore and so we're sharing this really with the American public," Pat Blassie said.
Blassie was flying an A-37 attack aircraft when he was shot down near An Loc, South Vietnam, on May 11, 1972, at age 24.
In 1984, his still-unidentified body was interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
A decade later, the Blassie's family received evidence indicating the remains in the tomb could belong to their lost lieutenant. The Blassies then began lobbying the Pentagon to test the remains.
On June 30, DNA testing not unavailable at the time of his death finally identified Blassie's body.
The Armed Forces Identification Review Board formally approved the identification on Wednesday, clearing the way for his return home.
The funeral is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. local time and will feature military honors, including an F-15 jet "missing man" flyover and a lone bugler sounding taps.