Arlington tomb for unknown Vietnam soldier likely to stay empty
February 25, 1999
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The tomb at Arlington National Cemetery set aside for an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War will probably remain empty, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said Thursday.
Bacon said that due to advances in DNA analysis and other identification techniques, the remains of those Vietnam servicemen still classified as unknown will probably be identified over time, leaving no remains suitable for the Tomb of the Unknowns.
While Defense Secretary William Cohen has not decided, "it is likely that when the decision is made, the decision will be that the tomb will remain empty," Bacon said.
The Tomb of the Unknowns still holds the unidentified remains of soldiers killed in World War I, World War II and the Korean War. In May 1998, the remains honoring the unknown from Vietnam were identified as belonging to Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie. His family chose to bury him elsewhere, leaving the Vietnam tomb empty.
"Now, the question is, how do we deal with this empty tomb in a dignified way that represents the sacrifices that men made during the Vietnam War?" Bacon said. "It's likely that we will end up putting on an inscription of some sort that remembers the men who died during the war and whose remains have not been found -- in other words, those who remain lost."
He said discussions would be held with veterans' groups before the decision is made.
Scott Campbell, a spokesman for the Vietnam Veterans of America, called the decision to leave the tomb empty a "non-issue." He said that given the advances in identification techniques, the VVA hopes that "there would never be another unknown soldier."
Some 2,069 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines remain unaccounted for from the Vietnam War. There are more than 8,000 U.S. troops unaccounted for from the Korean War; more than 78,000 from World War II; and more than 3,000 from World War I.
National Security Producer Chris Plante contributed to this report.
U.S. remembers veterans for 'ultimate sacrifice'
Arlington National Cemetery
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.