Guardsman Killed in Helicopter Crash Denied Burial in Arlington National Cemetery

090311-N-0696M-097 A lone U.S. Army bugler plays Taps at the conclusion of the First Annual Remembrance Ceremony in Dedication to Fallen Military Medical Personnel at Arlington National Cemetery, March 11, 2009.(DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley/Released)

The Louisiana National Guardsman who was killed in a helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico is being denied burial in Arlington National Cemetery. Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich’s father, a former Green Beret, calls the decision a “slap in the face.” The Louisiana National Guardsman is being denied burial because he was killed during a training exercise not active duty. Despite the family’s appeal, the Army is standing firm in its decision. Watch an interview with the guardsman’s father below.

The Louisiana National Guardsman, Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, was one of 11 service members killed after an Army Blackhawk helicopter crashed during a night training exercise at Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle. Those killed in the crash included four guardsmen and seven Marines.

Here’s the Army’s official statement on the matter.

“Staff Sgt. Florich’s death was tragic, and a deep loss to his family, the Army and our nation.
“His record of service makes him eligible for inurnment, so he may be forever enshrined in Arlington National Cemetery; however, since at the time of his death he was on active duty for training only, he therefore does not meet the well-established criteria for interment in Arlington National Cemetery.”

“My son died in uniform and deserved to be buried at Arlington,” said Stephen Florich, of King George, Virginia, which is about 45 miles south of Arlington Cemetery. Members of the Louisiana congressional delegation agree and are pressing the Army to reverse its decision.

Guardsman’s Father Speaks Out in Interview


Video credit to Fox News.

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