BLASSIE, MICHAEL JOSEPH
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REMAINS EXHUMED FROM TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN- IDENTIFIED O6/30/98

Name: Michael Joseph Blassie
Rank/Branch: 02/US Air Force
Unit:
Date of Birth: 04 April 1948
Home City of Record: St. Louis, MO
Date of Loss: 11 May 1972
Country of Loss: South Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 114017N 1063428E
Status (in 1973): Killed in Action/Body not Recovered
Category: 4
Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A37

Other Personnel in Incident: None Missing

Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK 06 September 1996 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews.

REMARKS:

                                         [US Veterans Dispatch 1996]

In  1984, as a result of the U.S. government's eagerness to lay to rest a
Vietnam Unknown Soldier, it interred the remains of a missing American
serveicemen that today can be identified and accounted for through the U.S.
government Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CIL-HI).
    
The interment of that "unidentifiable" U.S. servicemen in Arlington National
Cemetery, beside the Unknown from World War I, World War II and Korea was
supposed to be the ultimate symbolic gesture in healing the POW/MIA issue,
the Vietnam War's "sorest wound."
    
Instead, as it turns out, the entombment of the Vietnam Unknown was at the
very best premature and at worst a politically expedient attempt to further
close the books on the POW/MIA issue.
    
On April 13, 1984, the Defense Department chose a Vietnam Unknown from one
of our sets of remains then at CIL-HI. Because of the progress in
identification techniques, the Defense Department waived an administrative
criteria, which had been followed in earlier wars,that only remains that
were 80% complete were selected as Unknown Soldiers. With today's
advancements in technology and with CIL-HI boasting of its ability to
identify remains of American servicemen from evidence as minute as a tooth
fragment, remains that are 80% complete would be the worst choice for an
Unknown Soldier.
    
The remains finally chosen by CIL-HI to be the Vietnam Unknown had been
found by a South Vietnamese Army Reconnaissance team in late 1972 near An
Loc, Binh Long Province, which is located 60 miles north of Saigon. The
remains, which consisted of six bones, or only 3% of a skeleton, were
eventually given the number by CIL-HI of X-26. Along with the X-26 remains,
the reconnaissance team had brought in the remnants of a parachute, a flight
suit, a pistol holder and a one man inflatable raft.
    
CIL-HI determined that X-26 was a caucasian man who had been between 26 and
36 years old at the time of death.
    
In the surrounding area of An Loc where X-26 had been found, there had been
numerous American servicemen reported missing in action, bodies not
returned.
    
There was at least two C130s, several helicopters and an A37 fighter jet
that went down in that general area during the war prior to the Fall of
1972. The remnants which were found with the bone fragments of X-26 are
important pieces of a puzzle which when placed together point specifically
to the identification of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War.
    
The piece of a flight suit indicates that the Vietnam Unknown was an airman
and evidence of the existence of a parachute rules out the possibility of a
helicopter crew, thus focusing on the aircrews of the C130's and  the pilot
of the lone A37. The existence of a one man inflatable raft can be argued as
a strong reason to rule out the crews of the C130s, leaving only the pilot
of the A37, who would have been equipped with a one man raft.
    
In May 1972, near An Loc, an A37, flown by U.S. Air Force let. Michael J.
Blassie was hit by ground fire. Lt. Blassie's wingman saw him crash into
the ground and witnessed an explosion and fire. He did not see any signs
that indicated the survival of Lt. Blassie.
    
In October, 1972, the U.S. government sent a search team to the crashsite
(probably in response to the remains recovered by the South Vietnamese
Reconnaissance team) and found "identification media that correlated to the
case."
    
In November, 1992, the U.S. government again visited the area of the
crashsite, and found a witness who had heard about the incident. The
witness, according to a U.S. government source, took U.S. government
representatives to what was believed to be the exact crashsite. The
crashsite, according to the source, had been severely scavenged and U.S.
government investigators were unable to find anything significant pertaining
to the Blassie incident. The crash crater, according to the source, was
being used by a local farmer for a watering hole.
    
Many facts pertaining to Lt. Blassie's shootdown closely match those of the
Unknown Soldier. CIL-HI determined the Unknown Soldier to be a male
caucasian and between 26-33 years old. Lt. Blassie, was a male caucasian
who, at the time he became missing in action was 24 years old. Remnants
found with the remains of the Unknown Soldier indicate that he was a fighter
pilot. Lt. Blassie, from St. Louis, Mo., is the only fighter pilot listed
Killed-In-Action/Body-Not-Returned within a 2500 square mile area of where
the remains of the Unknown Soldier were found.
    
If the experts at CIL-HI can identify American MIAs from minute tooth
fragments, as they claim, then they should be able to right this wrong by
determining through DNA if the remains of Lt. Blassie is in the tomb of the
Vietnam Unknown.

---------------------------------------------------------
                                                

Ex-Unknown's Family Plans Burial
By NATALIE GOTT
The Associated Press 

FLORISSANT, Mo.  (AP) - Air Force pilot Michael Blassie's remains are coming
home at last, 26 years after his bomber was shot down in South Vietnam.

Defense Secretary William Cohen called Blassie's family Tuesday and
confirmed its long suspicion that the remains recently removed from the Tomb
of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery belong to Blassie.....