On June 5, 2004, former President Ronald W. Reagan died at home in California, at the age of 93.
From the first notification of the death of former President Ronald W. Reagan on June 5, until his interment on June 11, the 3rd US Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) played a major and very public role in all phases of the Military District of Washington’s planning and execution of the state funeral for the 40th President of the United States.
In California and in Washington, DC, the men and women of The Old Guard performed their ceremonial duties with all the skill, precision, honor and respect due our nation’s former Head of State and Commander-in-Chief.
On May 28, 1984, the nation honored the Vietnam Unknown with a State Funeral Ceremony and interment at the Tomb of the Unknown. President Reagan acted at the Unknown’s next of kin and received the honors rendered to the Unknown. The State Funeral was part of the Memorial Day observance ceremonies that year.
In the following years, some contended that the Vietnam Unknown’s identity was not “known but to God.” Support grew for attempting to identify the Unknown. On May 14, 1998, the Vietnam Unknown was exhumed. DNA testing confirmed the Unknown was Air Force First Lieutenant Michael Blassie. After his identification, 1LT Blassie was reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis, MO.
The crypt today stands empty as a memorial to all service members who did not return home from Vietnam. The inscription now reads, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen 1958-1975.”