Army secretary OKs burial in Arlington National Cemetery for guardsman

By CHEVEL JOHNSON
Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The family of a Louisiana National Guardsman killed in a helicopter crash in the Gulf of Mexico has received approval for him to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Friday he'd approved an exception to policy that will allow 26-year-old Staff Sgt. Thomas Florich to be buried there.

Because Florich was on a training mission when he died, a request for burial at Arlington was originally denied. McHugh noted that while Florich was killed during a training exercise, others who died in the accident were considered to be on active duty and were therefore eligible for burial without an exception to the policy. That anomaly led McHugh to reverse the earlier decision.

Florich's father, Stephen, said they were happy with the decision.

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