Pilot’s Remains Found in Iraq After 18 Years
By THOM SHANKER
Published: August 2, 2009
WASHINGTON — Navy officials announced early Sunday that Marines in western Anbar Province, Iraq, had found remains that have been positively identified as those of an American fighter pilot shot down in the opening hours of the first Gulf War in 1991.
The Navy pilot, Michael Scott Speicher, was the only American missing in action from that war. Efforts to determine what happened to him after his F/A-18 Hornet was lost to ground fire on Jan. 17, 1991, had continued despite false rumors and scant information.
Conflicting reports from Iraq had, over the years, fueled speculation that the pilot, promoted to captain in the years he was missing, might have been taken into captivity either after parachuting from his jet or after a crash landing.
But the evidence in Iraq suggests he did not survive and was buried by Bedouins shortly after he was shot down.
An official statement released early Sunday said that Marines in western Iraq had received information from local citizens last month about the crash of an American jet and the burial of the pilot.
“One of these Iraqi citizens stated that they were present when Captain Speicher was found dead at the crash site by Bedouins and his remains buried,” the statement said. “The Iraqi citizens led U.S. Marines to the site.”
A search of the area last week recovered remains that included bones and skeletal fragments, which were flown to Dover Air Force Base for scientific examination.
Positive identification was made by visual and radiographical comparisons of Captain Speicher’s dental records with the jawbone recovered at the site.
“Our Navy will never give up looking for a shipmate, regardless of how long or how difficult that search may be,” said Admiral Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, in a statement. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Captain Speicher and his family for the sacrifice they have made for our nation and the example of strength they have set for all of us.”
Although the dental records confirmed the identity of the dead pilot, further DNA tests will be conducted to compare the remains with samples previously provided by family members, the statement said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher’s family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country,” said Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, in a statement. “I am also extremely grateful to all those who have worked so tirelessly over the last 18 years to bring Captain Speicher home.”
You can read the rest here.
Navy Times article here
CDR Salamandar posts here
InstaPinch posts here
Solomonia posts here.
Musings from the Den Mother posts here.
One Marine's View here.
USNI blog posts here.
From My Position...On The Way! posts here
Bear Creek Ledger posts here.
ROK Drop posts here.
Fuzzilicious Thinking posts here.
PrairiePundit posts here.
Boudicca's Voice posts here.
I suppose the thing to do here is to focus on the committment of the Navy and all our Armed Forces to never leave a man behind. The fact that after all these years there were people who never gave up and stayed focused on bringing CAPT Speicher home.
Fair winds and following seas CAPT Michael "Scott" Speicher, United States Navy.