of Identified Soldier Seek Medal
August 9, 1998
family of Air Force Lieutenant Michael J. Blassie,
whose remains were removed from the Tomb of the Unknowns and brought to
his home town, is pressing for the Medal of Honor that hung on his burial
place in Arlington.
But some military officials and veterans say the medal was awarded symbolically to the Unknown Soldier -- not to one person -- and should remain at the Tomb of the Unknowns at the national cemetery.
"I understand the medal is symbolic, but it was Michael who served as that symbol for 14 years and it should stay with him," said Blassie's sister, Patricia Blassie, an Air Force Reserve captain.
Veterans organizations oppose giving the medal to Blassie, whose plane was shot down over Vietnam in 1972, and the Air Force is studying the issue.
"My understanding was that the medal was awarded for the benefit of all of those who remained unknown," Defense Secretary William S. Cohen told reporters last month. "But that's an issue that has . . . to be subjected to some legal analysis."