Arlington denies burial of guardsman killed in chopper crash

Jun 3, 2015, 11:12 AM

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Arlington National Cemetery says a Louisiana National Guardsman who was killed in a helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico can’t be buried at the hallowed grounds because he was killed during a training exercise.

The burial plots are only for service members who die on active duty and space is limited, the cemetery says.

Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26, was among four guardsmen and seven Marines killed when Black Hawk helicopter crashed March 10 off of Florida.

His father, a former Army major and Green Beret, calls the burial rejection “a slap in the face.”

“My son died in uniform and deserved to be buried at Arlington,” said Stephen Florich, of King George, Virginia, which is about 45 miles south of Arlington Cemetery.

Stephen Florich, who resigned his Army commission when his wife died, said he has received support from military veterans and government leaders in his fight to get his son buried at Arlington. Some veterans have told him they would give up their own spot in the cemetery for Thomas Florich.

“I’m overwhelmed by the support my family and I have received from across the country,” he said.

In a statement, the Army said, “Staff Sgt. Florich’s death was tragic, and a deep loss to his family, the Army and our nation.

“His record of service makes him eligible for inurnment, so he may be forever enshrined in Arlington National Cemetery; however, since at the time of his death he was on active duty for training only, he therefore does not meet the well-established criteria for interment in Arlington National Cemetery.”

The problem is space.

Cemetery spokeswoman Jennifer Lynch said Arlington is expected to run out of burial space in about 40 years, meaning “those currently serving on active duty may not have an opportunity to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, if they retire after a life of service.”

“This is not including any conflicts that may arise in the next 40 years,” Lynch said.

Col. Pete Schneider, spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard, said he was disappointed in the cemetery’s decision. An appeal was filed with the secretary of the Army seeking an exception.

As of Wednesday, there had been no reply.

U.S. Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., a Louisiana Republican, said he also asked for an exception. While Thomas Florich may not have been on active duty, Boustany said, he “was supporting active duty Marines when the training accident occurred.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

United States News

FILE - The seal of the Board of Governors of the United States Federal Reserve System is displayed ...
KTAR.com

Federal Reserve set to impose smaller hike could hint of fewer increases

The Federal Reserve is poised this week to raise its benchmark interest rate for an eighth time since March.
18 hours ago
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)...
Associated Press

President Biden announces COVID-19 emergencies to end May 11

President Joe Biden informed Congress on Monday that he will end the twin national emergencies for addressing COVID-19 on May 11.
18 hours ago
(AP File Photo/Geneva Heffernan)...
Associated Press

Valley woman among 3 killed in shooting at Los Angeles rental home

Three women, including one from Buckeye, were killed in a weekend shooting at a short-term rental home in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood.
18 hours ago
(Arizona Department of Transportation photo)...
Associated Press

Should federal grants be in favor of highway repair over expansion?

Advocates for highway construction are concerned their projects are getting shortchanged in the competition for grant money under the new infrastructure law.
2 days ago
Demonstrators block traffic protesting the death of Tyre Nichols on January 27, 2023 in Memphis, Te...
Associated Press

Memphis police chief disbands unit responsible in beating of Tyre Nichols

The unit is composed of three teams of about 30 officers and had been inactive since Tyre Nichols' Jan. 7 arrest.
3 days ago
The image from video released on Jan. 27, 2023, by the City of Memphis, shows Tyre Nichols on the g...
Associated Press

Memphis authorities release video in Tyre Nichols’ death

Video showing Memphis officers beating a Black man was made public Friday after they were charged with murder in the death of Tyre Nichols.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Arlington denies burial of guardsman killed in chopper crash