In a reversal of a controversial decision, one particular of the 11 service members killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash off the Florida coast this past month will be allowed to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The household of Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, a Louisiana National Guardsman, had sought his internment at the nation’s most hallowed burial web-site, just like one particular of the seven active duty Marines killed in the crash, but was denied since he was not active duty.
Florich was one of four Guardsmen flying a Black Hawk helicopter when it crashed into the waters off of the Florida Panhandle on March ten. Also killed were seven Marines who were getting flown by the crew to practice nighttime maneuvers.
An investigation determined that the helicopter crashed since the Black Hawk’s pilots have been disoriented by heavy fog that moved into their education area.
Florich’s family members appealed the cemetery’s selection to Army Secretary John McHugh who on Friday announced that he had approved an exception.
An Army statement mentioned that immediately after reviewing the Florich family’s request, McHugh agreed that there was a “compelling justification for granting this request for an exception to ANC’s interment eligibility criteria.”
McHugh noted that whilst Florich “was training in his capacity as a member of the National Guard, other folks who were killed have been regarded as to be on active duty and had been therefore eligible for burial at Arlington devoid of an exception to policy.”
The family’s request for Florich’s burial at the nation’s most hallowed web page was denied each by the cemetery and an advisory panel.
With burial space increasing additional restricted at the historic cemetery, the Army had instituted tougher standards a number of years ago as a implies of making sure burials there for the next 40 years.
That rejection came on the heels of the burial of Marine Employees Sgt. Andrew Seif at the cemetery. Seif was 1 of the seven Marines killed in the crash.
McHugh noted the evolving relationship amongst America’s active duty and reserve military forces who are education collectively “with rising frequency.”
“When these service members tragically drop their lives while training side-by-side for the very same mission in defense of our nation, it is fitting to afford them the very same burial privileges,” McHugh wrote in an Army memo.
The Army Secretary has also ordered a assessment of the federal regulations that govern eligibility for interment and inurnment at Arlington “ to see if modifications could be required.”