Each year, the Association of Honorary Commanders selects community and business leaders and matches them with military commanders through a one-year program, giving those leaders the opportunity to learn more about the activities. local military, their impact on the local economy and various aspects of the national defense system.
After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1970, 1st Lt. Blassie was trained and deployed to fly rapid attack aircraft during the Vietnam War.
After 130 successful combat missions, an unfortunate strike on May 11, 1972 on an enemy artillery position when 1st Lt. Blassie’s A-37 was hit by anti-aircraft fire, igniting and exploding on impact behind the guns. enemy lines.
Reports from his captain indicated that 1st Lt. Blassie was probably killed instantly.
Search and rescue attempts had been thwarted by resistance; and the next day an Air Force chaplain visited his parents to inform them that their son had been killed in action and his body was unrecoverable.
This was the official account the family received for the next 26 years.
However, towards the end of 1972 – the year of the accident, a South Vietnamese army patrol located the accident as well as the remains and personal effects of 1st Lt. Blassie, including his ID card. .
During the following years and during a long series of manipulations and post-mortem treatments of these remains, official confirmation of the identification was never made.
In the early 1980s, with pressure from organizations anxious to see the nation of Vietnam’s soldiers, sailors and airmen recognized, an “unknown” was being considered for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC
On May 28, 1984, the remains recovered from the May 11, 1972 crash of an Air Force A-37 were awarded President Ronald Reagan’s Medal of Honor during ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The remains of 1st Lt. Blassie were just among the few buried in this national shrine – in 1921 for a WWI serviceman, in 1958 one from WWII and one from the Korean War and 1984, according to arlingtoncemetery .mil / Explore / Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In 1984, the remains of 1st Lt. Blassie were the only set of American remains recovered in Vietnam that had not been fully identified until 1998.
The unknown Vietnam War crypt remains vacant.
September 17, 1999 – National Prisoner of War / MIA Appreciation Day, this crypt was re-dedicated to honor all U.S. servicemen who died in the Vietnam War.
For those who have been fully vaccinated (the second dose was at least two weeks before the event), masks will not be required during this event.
Those who have not been fully vaccinated will be required to wear masks and maintain a social distancing of 3 1/2 feet throughout the event.