Washington — A Louisiana National Guard serviceman was laid to rest Tuesday in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, three months after the U.S. Army granted an exception to its rules to allow the interment there.
The serviceman, Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich, 26, of Baton Rouge, was killed in a helicopter crash off the Florida coast in March. He and three other guardsmen were participating in a training exercise with a group of Marines, all of whom died in the crash.
“Today, Staff Sgt. Florich’s family and the larger Louisiana National Guard community are being granted closure after the tragic training accident that took the lives of 11 brave servicemen earlier this year, U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La., said in a statement released Tuesday.
Boustany was part of the effort by members of the Louisiana congressional delegation to win the right of Florich’s burial in the national cemetery, where space for graves is at a premium. The Army initially denied approval of the burial because Florich was on a training mission and not on active duty. In announcing its reversal of that decision in June, the Army said it would review its criteria for burials at Arlington.
Boustany is a co-sponsor of the FLORICH Act, introduced in the House by Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., which would make permanent the ruling that permitted Florich’s burial at Arlington. Other House co-sponsors include Ralph Abraham and Steve Scalise, both R-La., and Cedric Richmond, D-La.