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REQUEST DENIED FOR MEDAL FROM TOMB OF UNKNOWNS

The Medal of Honor that hung on the Tomb of the Unknowns for 14 years while Air Force Lt. Michael J. Blassie was buried there will not join him at his new burial place.

Relatives of the Vietnam War casualty, whose remains were identified and moved this summer to a national cemetery near his home, were told by Undersecretary of Defense Rudy de Leon that their request for the medal was denied.

De Leon said that under the 1984 law establishing the Tomb for the Vietnam War era, the Medal of Honor was awarded symbolically to an entire class of unidentified soldiers, rather than an individual.

The family was disappointed but respects the department's decision, said Blassie's sister, Air Force Reserve Capt. Patricia Blassie.

At the family's insistence, the government agreed in May to disinter remains believed to be Blassie's from the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. DNA testing produced a positive identification, and he was reburied July 10 at Jefferson Barrack National Cemetery outside St. Louis.

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