DOVER, Del. (AP) _ The remains of Air Force Lt. Michael Blassie, the soldier who had been buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, were sent home today, 26 years after his death.

This morning at Dover Air Force Base, six members of the Air Force honor guard lifted Blassie's casket, draped with an American flag, onto a plane bound for Scott Air Force Base, Ill., near St. Louis.

After a brief ceremony, Blassie's remains were to be loaded into a hearse, with family members following it to the gravesite at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in south St. Louis County.

A memorial Mass was to be celebrated tonight at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in suburban St. Louis, the church of Blassie's mother, Jean F. Blassie.

A graveside service was scheduled for Saturday morning with honors befitting an Air Force pilot killed in the line of duty. An honor guard will fire a 21-gun salute, and F-15 Eagle fighters will roar overhead in a ``missing man'' flyover.

Blassie was killed on May 11, 1972, when his plane was shot down while making a low-level bombing run in South Vietnam. He was 24.

DNA tests in late June confirmed the remains that had been in Arlington were Blassie's.

``I picked out a nice place for Lt. Blassie,'' said Jefferson Barracks superintendent Ralph Church.

He will be laid to rest beneath lush bluegrass and fescue in the cemetery's oldest section, established in 1826 alongside the original military post.

Blassie will get the standard headstone _ a simple, 2-foot-high piece of white Georgia marble rounded at the top.