Key Dates in the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

6 months ago

World War I Unknown Soldier (Tomb of the Unknown Soldier)

December 21, 1920 – Congressman Hamilton Fish III (R-NY) introduces legislation for the return of an Unknown American and his burial in Arlington National Cemetery

March 4, 1921 - Joint House Resolution 426 signed by President Woodrow Wilson, authorizing the return of an Unknown American and his burial in Arlington National Cemetery

October 22, 1921 – Four American officers were ordered to exhume candidates from four different cemeteries in France. Once a candidate had been found it was transported to Chalons-sur-Marne to the Hotel de Ville, where the four candidates remained under the watch of the French Honor Guard.

October 24, 1921 – Sergeant Edward Younger selects the World War I Unknown Soldier from four candidates in Chalons-sur-Marne (today Chalons-en-Champagne), France. The World War I Unknown Soldier is transported to Paris via train where he remains overnight under the watch of an US Army Honor Guard and one uniformed member of the American Legion.

October 25, 1921 – The World War I Unknown Soldier is transported to Pier d’Escale at Le Havre, France via train where he is honored by Minister Andre Maginot with the Croix de Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. Crew and a detachment of US Marines from the USS Olympia (C-6) assume control of the World War I Unknown Soldier and begin transit to the United States under escort of the USS Ruben James (DD-245).

November 9, 1921 – The USS Olympia (C-6) arrives at the Naval Gun Factory and transfers the World War I Unknown Soldier to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. The Unknown Soldier is transported via caisson to the US Capitol where he lays in state upon the Lincoln catafalque.

November 11, 1921 – The World War I Unknown Soldier is transported via caisson to Arlington National Cemetery where, after funeral services led by President Harding, is buried in the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater.

November 17, 1925 – First civilian watchman is posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier while Arlington National Cemetery is open to the public.

March 2, 1926 –House Joint Resolution 185 directed the War Department to “maintain a special guard…whose duty it shall be to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington from sunrise to sunset…”

March 25, 1926 – First Military Guard is posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

August 29, 1931 – Remodeling construction on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier commences under the direction of Lorimer Rich (Architect) and Thomas Jones (Sculptor).

April 9, 1932 – Newly designed Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as seen today, is completed and unveiled to the public.

July 2, 1937 – Guard shifts are modified to 24hrs a day.

World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers

June 24, 1946 – Congress directs the selection and burial of an Unknown American from World War II to be buried “near or beside” the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

August 3, 1956 – Congress directs the selection and burial of an Unknown American from the Korean War to be buried “near or beside” the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

May 12, 1958 – The World War II Trans-Atlantic Candidate selected in Epinal American Military Cemetery, France by Major General Edward O’Neil and transported to Napes, Italy. From here the USS Blandy (DD-943) transports the candidate to a pre-designated location off Cape Henry, Virginia.

May 15, 1958 – The Korean War Unknown Soldier is selected at the Punchbowl National Cemetery, Hawaii by Master Sergeant Ned Lyle.

May 16, 1958 – The World War II Trans-Pacific Candidate selected at the Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii by Colonel Glenn Eagleston. Both the candidate and the Korean War Unknown Soldier are transported by VR-21 aircraft to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where they are placed aboard the USS Boston (CAG-1), and transferred to a pre-designated location off Cape Henry, Virginia.

May 26, 1958 – The World War II candidates and the Korean War Unknown Soldier are transferred at sea to the USS Canberra (CAG-2) where the final selection of the World War II Unknown Soldier is made by Hospitalman First Class William Charette. The candidate not selected was buried at sea. Both the World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers were then transferred at sea to the USS Blandy (DD-943), under escort of the USCGC Ingham.

May 27, 1958 - The USS Blandy (DD-943) arrives at Pier 3 of the Naval Gun Factory.

May 28, 1958 – The World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers are transported via caisson to the US Capitol where they lay in state.

May 30, 1958 - The World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers are transported via caisson to Arlington National Cemetery where, after funeral services led by President Eisenhower, are buried to the west of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier within crypts on the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater.

Vietnam Unknown Soldier

June 25, 1981 – Congress directed the selection and burial of an Unknown American from the Vietnam War in House Joint Resolution 299.

May 17, 1984 – The Vietnam Unknown Soldier is designated at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by Sergeant Major Allan Kellogg. From here the USS Brewton (DD-943) begins to transport the Vietnam Unknown Soldier to Alameda Naval Air Station in California.

May 24, 1984 – The Vietnam Unknown Soldier arrives at Travis Air Force Base, California and remains overnight.

May 25, 1984 – The Vietnam Unknown Soldier departs Travis Air Force Base via C-141B and arrives at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland and is transported via hearse to the US Capitol where he lays in state for three days.

May 28, 1984 – The Vietnam Unknown Soldier is transported via caisson to Arlington National Cemetery where, after funeral services led by President Reagan, are buried to the west of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier between the crypts of the World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers on the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater.

May 14, 1998 – The Vietnam Unknown Soldier is disinterred from the crypt and transported via hearse to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology for DNA testing.

June 30, 1998 – Remains identified as Captain Michael Blassie, USAF.

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