Blassie, Michael Joseph, 1st Lt

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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
1115Z-Pilot
Last AFSC Group
Aircrew
Primary Unit
1972-1972, 8th Special Operations Squadron
Service Years
1970 - 1972
First Lieutenant

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Missouri
Missouri
Year of Birth
1948
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt John Paul Jones, Sr. (JJ) to remember Blassie, Michael Joseph, 1st Lt.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
St Louis
Last Address
St Louis

Casualty Date
May 11, 1972
 
Cause
Hostile, Died
Reason
Air Loss, Crash - Land
Location
Vietnam, South (Vietnam)
Conflict
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery - St. Louis, Missouri
Wall/Plot Coordinates
01W 023

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Aviator (Basic)


 
 Unit Assignments
14th Air Commando Squadron8th Special Operations Squadron
  1970-1972, 1021A, 14th Air Commando Squadron
  1972-1972, 8th Special Operations Squadron
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1961-1973 Vietnam War3
  1965-1973 Non-operation sorties/missions over Cambodia
 Colleges Attended 
United States Air Force Academy
  1966-1970, United States Air Force Academy5
 My Aircraft/Missiles
T-38 Talon  A-37 Dragonfly  
  1971-1971, T-38 Talon
  1972-1972, A-37 Dragonfly
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

First Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie (April 4, 1948 - May 11, 1972) was an officer in the United States Air Force. Prior to identification of his remains, Blassie was the Unknown service member from the Vietnam War laid to rest at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

After graduating from St. Louis University High School, Blassie entered the United States Air Force Academy. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1970. He then served as a member of the 8th Special Operations Squadron. Blassie died when his A-37B Dragonfly was shot down near An Loc in what was then South Vietnam.

He was the first cousin of professional wrestling star Fred Blassie.

Vietnam Unknown

For many years following Blassie's death, his remains were unidentified. Blassie was designated the Unknown service member from the Vietnam War by Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan J. Kellogg Jr. during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on May 17, 1984.

Blassie was then transported aboard the USS Brewton to Naval Air Station Alameda, in California. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, California on May 24. Blassie arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland the following day.

Many Vietnam veterans and President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan visited Blassie as he lay in state in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried him from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown. The President also acted as next of kin by accepting the interment flag at the end of the ceremony.

The Unknown Service Member from the Vietnam War‚??later identified as 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie‚??being laid to rest on May 24, 1984

DNA identification had yet to advance to its current state when Blassie's remains were repatriated, and he lay in the Tomb of the Unknowns up to 1998, with visitors paying respects but unaware of his identity.

After Blassie's family secured permission, the remains of Blassie were exhumed on May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, Department of Defense scientists were finally able to identify Lieutenant Blassie's remains. On June 30, 1998 the Defense Department announced that the Vietnam Unknown had been identified. Blassie's body was returned to his family, and on July 10 Blassie's remains finally arrived home to his family in Saint Louis, Missouri. Blassie was then reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

Following the removal of Lt. Blassie's remains from the Tomb of the Unknowns, the marker at Arlington was replaced with one that read, "Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen." Advances in technology, such as those that allowed the identification of Lt. Blassie, may lead to the eventual identification of all interments marked "unknown" from Vietnam.

   
Comments/Citation


Vietnam Unknown's Medal of Honor Transfer Denied

American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 25, 1998 ‚?? The Defense Department has denied a request from the family of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie that he receive the Medal of Honor given to the Vietnam Unknown.

Blassie's remains had been interred from 1984 until April this year at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., as those of the unknown American service member from the Vietnam era. Congress authorized the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown in 1984, but the award's not transferable, Defense Undersecretary Rudy de Leon, the department's top personnel manager, said in an Aug. 20 letter to Jean Blassie, the airman's mother.

The award, he said, is symbolic, not personal. Similar legislation bestowed the Medal of Honor on the Unknowns of World Wars I and II and the Korean War.

"The language of these laws and their legislative histories reflect that they were intended to authorize the Medal of Honor as symbolic awards to the Unknowns to represent all service members who lost their lives in these conflicts," de Leon stated. He said "the most senior officials within the Department of Defense" reviewed the request and found the department has no authority to give Blassie the award.

Blassie's remains were not identifiable when interred as the Unknown in 1984. The remains were removed in April following the Blassie family's appeal for DNA tests and possible identification. Tests confirmed Blassie's identity in June. His remains were returned to his family and reinterred in St. Louis.

"Please be assured that First Lieutenant Blassie's numerous honors and awards, to include the prestigious Silver Star recognizing his bravery in action, reflect the honorable and dedicated service he rendered to a most grateful nation," de Leon said. "It is the department's intent to keep the Vietnam Unknown Medal of Honor on display at Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to all who, like Michael, unselfishly gave their lives in service to our nation during the Vietnam conflict."

   
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