Members of the Louisiana congressional delegation have pressed the Army to drop its opposition to allowing Louisiana National Guard Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, originally from Baton Rouge, to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, across from Washington D.C.
Officials at the meeting said Army officials at the meeting were receptive to the delegation’s request, though no decision on the request was announced by late Tuesday.
The original request for Arlington National Ceremony burial came directly from Florich’s father, Stephen Florich, and the Louisiana National Guard.
Thomas Florich, 26, was the flight mechanic on the stricken Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter when it crashed March 11 in the Gulf of Mexico during a fog advisory. The accident occurred about 50 miles east of Pensacola, Fla.
In all, 11 lost their lives, including seven active duty Marines. One of the fallen Marines, Sgt. Andrew Seif, recently awarded the Silver Star, was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in April.
The Army said that Florich can be buried with military honors. But because Florich was not on active duty at the time of the accident, the Army said he isn’t eligible for burial at Arlington.
Rep. Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, said given that Florich was supporting activity duty Marines during the accident, and the huge outcry of support for him and his family in Louisiana, and nationally, the Army should make an exception from its rules.