PFC Lynn Blessing

Remains of Vietnam veteran killed in 1975 will be buried at Arlington

Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era

Updated May 10, 2013 18:12

PFC Lynn Blessing

Originally Published May 10, 2013 16:53

Staff Writer

Lynn Blessing probably thought he was home free when the Vietnam War officially ended in the early spring of 1975.

But a month later — May 15 — the Lancaster Marine died with 12 other American servicemen when their helicopter crashed while trying to recapture the SS Mayaguez in the Gulf of Thailand.

Private First Class Blessing, 19 years old, was Lancaster's last casualty of the war.

On Wednesday, 37 years to the day after Blessing died, his remains and the remains of others who died with him will be buried in a common grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

Blessing's only son, Tom, and Diane Gerber, the best friend of Lynn Blessing's widow, will travel to Arlington, Va., to attend the 11 a.m. ceremony.

"I feel honored and blessed to be able to go in honor of this great Marine and in memory of my best friend," said Gerber, of Lancaster.

Tom Blessing, who also lives in Lancaster, could immediately not be reached for comment.

Lynn Blessing's mother, Thelma Blessing, of Lancaster, knew nothing about the ceremony when informed by a reporter Friday morning.

The Marines did notify her when the first remains of her son were found.

Blessing was listed as officially missing in action until 1995, when his remains were discovered under water and returned to Lancaster. They were buried at Riverview Burial Cemetery in 2000.

His mother attended that service. So did his widow, Anita, and their son, Tom, then 26 years old. Anita Blessing died in 2009.

If Blessing's remains were buried here 13 years ago, why would more remains be buried at Arlington next week?

"A lot of times they'll have commingled remains that they can't identify as an individual," explained Jennifer Lynch, a spokeswoman at Arlington National Cemetery.

All of the remains will be buried in one place and the names of all of the men who died at that time will be inscribed on a cemetery memorial, she said.

Blessing was riding in one of six helicopters dispatched to free the Mayaguez three days after the Khmer Rouge captured it and took it to an island off Cambodia.

The Khmer Rouge shot down Blessing's helicopter just before it reached the island. Half of the 26 men on board were rescued from the water. The other half remained unaccounted for until 1995.

Blessing was born in Lancaster and baptized at St. Mary's Catholic Church. He attended Lancaster city schools.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1974 and was stationed in Okinawa. He was promoted to private first class before being transferred to service in Vietnam.

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