La. Guardsman denied burial at Arlington National Cemetery

La. Guardsman denied burial at Arlington National Cemetery

(WVUE/FOX) - A Louisiana National Guardsman was denied burial at Arlington National Cemetery because he was not on active duty when he was killed in a helicopter crash off the coast of the Florida panhandle in March.

A Pentagon source told that 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich was turned away "due to his duty status at the time of the crash."

While Florich is eligible to receive military honors and inurnment, "he does not meet the requirements for burial in Arlington National Cemetery," A U.S. Army spokeswoman said in a statement.

Florich was the flight mechanic aboard the Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter when it crashed during a training flight March 11 in dense fog. Ten other servicemen also died in the accident.

"We filed an exception of policy to have Staff Sgt. Florich buried at Arlington according to the family's wishes," Louisiana National Guard spokesman Col. Pete Schneider told Fox News. "We are appealing the denial. We are disappointed that the exception to policy was not approved."

Florich had been a member of the Guard for eight years, Schneider said.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh could waive the eligibility rules. La. Rep. Charles Boustany has requested such an exception for Florich because he was supporting active duty Marines when he was killed.

"Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich gave his life for his country in a tragic training accident," Boustany said in a statement. "His grieving family has requested that Staff Sgt. Florich be buried with his brothers in arms at Arlington National Cemetery, and I believe he fully deserves that honor..."

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