Staff Sergeant Denied Burial at Arlington after Helicopter Crash
One US National Guard soldier was denied burial at Arlington because he was not on active duty at the time of a helicopter crash earlier in 2015. SSgt Thomas Florich “does not meet the requirements for burial at Arlington National Cemetery,” according to the U.S. Army. And his family is not happy about it.
The Pentagon told Fox News that the denial was due to his status at the time of the accident- he was not on “active duty.” The 7 US Marines on board were all active duty troops assigned to MARSOC.
Florich was the flight mechanic on board the Blackhawk helicopter when it crashed on March 11. He was an 8 year member of the Louisiana National Guard. “Active Duty” for Guard members exists only when they are called up during a deployment.
“I think my son was very active on that aircraft. My son was in uniform. My son was serving in the capacity as a crew chief and a door gunner. And in adverse weather conditions, he accepted a mission to train people for combat in the future. And in that, he gave all and lost his life.” Retired Green Beret, Major Steven Florich, father of SSgt Florich
The Louisiana National Guard is appealing the denial.
“We filed an exception of policy to have Staff Sgt. Florich buried at Arlington according to the family’s wishes. We are appealing the denial. We are disappointed that the exception to policy was not approved.” Col. Pete Schneider, spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard
Secretary of the Army John McHugh has the power to waive the rules and allow SSgt Florich’s burial at Arlington. Will he bend the rules for this grieving family? The family, and the Louisiana National Guard, all hope that will happen.
Though SSgt Florich did not deploy overseas, his father says he was a good soldier and believed in what he was doing. He told his father, “If not me then who?” when he enlisted.
“Man passes away; his name perishes from record and recollection; his history is as a tale that is told…” Washington Irving 1783-1859
Let’s not let that happen to SSgt Tom Florich.