Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Tomb of the Unknowns
The Unknown Soldier was selected on October 24, 1921. Sergeant Edward F. Younger, US Army, carrying a spray of white roses, entered the room where the four unmarked flag-draped caskets were resting. He slowly circled, silently placing the roses on one of the caskets. Thus the Unknown Soldier was officially designated. The three remaining unknowns were then returned to the Meuse Argonne Cemetery.
The Unknown Soldier was placed aboard the US Cruiser Olympia, which arrived at the Nation’s Capitol on November 9, 1921. The honored remains were taken to the Rotunda of the United States Capitol, to rest in state until Armistice Day, on November 11. The Unknown Soldier was moved to the Memorial Amphitheater, in Arlington National Cemetery. After service in the Amphitheater, the remains were borne to the sarcophagus for brief committal rites. The impressive ceremony closed with three salvos of artillery, the sounding of Taps, and the National Salute.
Under authority of Public Law 429, 79th Congress approved June 24, 1946, 13 unknown Americans who lost
The remains of two unknown Americans were disinterred on April 15, 1958, from the National Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii, and four unknowns were disinterred from the Fort McKinley American Cemetery and Memorial, in the Philippines. The six unknowns were then taken to Hickam Air Force Base, where on May 16, 1958, Colonel Glenn T. Eagleston, US Air Force, placed a white carnation lei, selecting the candidate-unknown to represent the Trans-Pacific phase of World War II. The five other caskets were reinterred.
The candidate-unknown was then transported to the Cruiser Canberra where the final selection of the World War II unknown took place. On the after-missile deck of the Canberra, Hospitalman First Class William R. Charette, the Navy’s only active enlisted holder of the Medal of Honor, had the distinction of making the selection of the World War II unknown. After a moment's hesitation he placed a wreath at the foot of the casket on his
Under authority of Public Law 972, 84th Congress, approved August 3, 1958, four unknown Americans who lost their lives while serving overseas in the Armed Forces of the United States during the Korean Conflict were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. On May 15, 1958, Master Sergeant Ned Lyle, US Army, holding a carnation wreath stood momentarily silent before the four identical flag-draped caskets; he placed the wreath on the end casket to signify the selection of the Korean War unknown. The remaining unknown Americans were reinterred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
The unknown of Korea was transported to the Cruiser Canberra to join the unknown of World War II.
At sea off Norfolk, Virginia, the unknown of World War II and Korea were transferred to the destroyer Blandy, which brought them to the Nation’s Capitol.
Upon their arrival, on May 28, 1958, the Unknowns were taken to the Rotunda of the Nation’s Capitol, to rest in state until Memorial Day, May 30, 1958. The Unknowns were then moved to the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery and there, before the distinguished guests, President Dwight Eisenhower awarded the Medal of Honor to each. After the service,
In 1973, Congress passed Public Law 93-43, directing the Secretary of Defense to inter an unknown American serviceman from the Vietnam Conflict at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The sophisticated identification techniques were remarkably efficient, and it was not until 1984 that remains of an American serviceman were classified as unidentifiable.
During ceremonies at Pearl Harbor, on May 17, 1984, Sergeant Major Allan Kellogg, Jr., US Marine Corps, a Medal of Honor recipient during the Vietnam Conflict, placed a wreath before the casket, formally designating the unknown from the Vietnam Conflict. The unknown was placed aboard the USS Brewton for transport to mainland United States.
The unknown arrived at the US Capitol on May 25, 1984, where he lay in state for three days in the Rotunda. On Memorial Day, May 28, 1984, and elaborate funeral procession transferred the body to the Memorial Amphitheater. During the service, President Ronald Reagan presented the Medal of Honor to the unknown. The Vietnam unknown was then borne to the plaza, and following religious rites, a 21-gun salute was rendered. The solemn service concluded with three volleys of rifle fire, followed
On May 14, 1998, the unknown American of the Vietnam era was exhumed from the tomb for possible identification. After a somber ceremony presided over by the Honorable William S. Cohen, Secretary of Defense, the unknown was transported to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Using the most sophisticated and exacting science available, the unknown was identified as First Lieutenant Michael J. Blassie, US Air Force. In accordance with his family’s wishes, he was interred in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Missouri. The crypt presently is empty, but it serves as a tribute to all those who made the supreme sacrifice during the Vietnam Conflict.
Location. 38° 52.568′ N, 77° 4.342′ W. Marker is in Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia, in Arlington County. Marker can be reached from Memorial Drive north of Porter Drive, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Located at Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Myer VA 22211, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Memorial Carillon at Arlington National Cemetery (within shouting distance of this marker); Spirit of the Elbe (about 300 feet away, measured in Korean War Contemplative Bench (about 400 feet away); Third Infantry Division, U.S. Army (about 400 feet away); The Rakkasans (about 500 feet away); American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor, Inc. (about 500 feet away); American Special Operations Forces (about 500 feet away); United States Space Shuttle Columbia (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Arlington National Cemetery.
Also see . . .
1. Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown. Detailed stories of the Unknowns. (Submitted on December 19, 2012.)
2. Wikipedia Entry. “The Sentinel—the soldier ‘walking the mat’—does not wear rank insignia, so as not to outrank the Unknowns, whatever their ranks may have been. Non-commissioned officers (usually the Relief Commander and Assistant Relief Commanders), do wear insignia of their rank when changing the guard only. They have a separate uniform (without rank) that is worn when they actually guard the Unknowns or are ‘posted.’ The duties of the sentinels are not purely ceremonial. The sentinels will confront people
“A civilian guard was first posted at the Tomb on November 17, 1925, to prevent, among other things, families from picnicking on the flat marble slab with views of the city. A military guard was first posted on March 25, 1926. The first 24-hour guard was posted on midnight, July 2, 1937. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since that time. Inclement weather, terrorist attacks, et cetera, do not cause the watch to cease.” (Submitted on October 21, 2017.)
Categories. • War, Korean • War, Vietnam • War, World I • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on February 22, 2018. This page originally submitted on December 17, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. This page has been viewed 493 times since then and 33 times this year. This page was the Marker of the Week October 22, 2017. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 17, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. 6. submitted on December 19, 2012, by Mike Stroud of Bluffton, South Carolina. 7. submitted on December 17, 2012, by Don Morfe of Baltimore, Maryland. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.