Lt Michael J. Blassie was a United States Air Force pilot who was shot down and killed during the Vietnam War. His remains were initially listed as “unidentified.” They were interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery by President Ronald Regan in 1984 as part of a group of remains representing unidentified servicemen killed in the Vietnam War.
The controversy surrounding Michael J. Blassie centers on the identification of his remains. The remains were exhumed in 1998 and identified through DNA testing, revealing that they belonged to Blassie. This caused some controversy because some people believed that the Tomb of the Unknowns should remain just that, unknown and that the remains should not have been identified and removed. Additionally, some concerns identifying Blassie’s remains would diminish the sacrifices of other unknown soldiers interred at the tomb.
We’re back! Since this is our first episode of 2023, we pause for a moment to reflect on the last year and give a shout-out to all the folks who make this podcast what it is! Thanks, everyone!
We’re very excited to have friend-of-the-show, Michael Shanks, co-host this episode! Michael holds the distinction of being The Digression Podcast’s very first listener! He’s also the Director of Business Development for Genasys Long Range Acoustic Device (a.k.a. Giant Voice…see episode 12 to learn more!)
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. It is located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States. The tomb was first established in 1921 to honor unknown soldiers from World War I. Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War were later added, and a separate crypt was established in 1984 to honor unknowns from the Vietnam War.
The Tomb is guarded by members of the United States Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The guards are responsible for maintaining a 24-hour vigil at the tomb and performing a formal changing of the guard ceremony every hour on the hour, year-round. The ceremony is open to the public and is a popular attraction at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is considered a symbol of sacrifice and honor for all of the United States service members who have died in service to their country. It serves as a reminder of the cost of war and the sacrifices made by those who have served in America’s armed forces.
World War II vet Cpl Jack Eaton, a former Sentinel, who, at age 100, returned to Arlington to visit the Tomb he guarded from 1938-1940.