Press Release

Contact: Mokie Pratt Porter, Communications Director 202-628-2700 Ext. 146

VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA CALLS FOR ACTION TO DETERMINE THE IDENTITY OF THE "UNKNOWN" VIETNAM WAR SOLDIER

WASHINGTON, DC (January 20, 1998)

Vietnam Veterans of America's National President, George Duggins, called on the Pentagon today to take whatever measures are necessary to determine the identity of the Vietnam War serviceman buried in Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.

"It is VVA's policy, and it has always been VVA's policy, to do whatever possible to achieve the fullest possible accounting of our servicemen missing in action in Vietnam," Duggins said. "We believe that the recent CBS News report opens up the very real possibility that the remains may be those of Michael Joseph Blassie. For the sake of the Blassie family, we are asking the Pentagon to exhume the body to do the latest DNA testing to put this matter to rest."

CBS News reported January 19 that a seven-month investigation revealed that the remains "almost certainly" are those of Blassie, an Air Force pilot shot down in May 1972 near the Cambodian border. In 1980, the Pentagon, under pressure to add a body from the Vietnam War to the Tomb of the Unknowns, concluded the remains were not those of Blassie's -- despite considerable evidence to the contrary, CBS said.

Vietnam Veterans of America, the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to serving the nation's Vietnam-era veterans and their families, has an active POW/MIA Committee that works with the Pentagon, State Department, and members of Congress to help facilitate the fullest possible accounting of Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

VVA since 1991 has worked with its counterpart in Vietnam, the Vietnamese Veterans Association, on VVA's Veterans Initiative project, in which American and Vietnamese veterans provide information to help account for each other's missing.

Vietnam Veterans of America is a congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of veterans and their families. Vietnam Veterans of America’s founding principle is

Never again shall one generation of veterans abandon another.



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