REMAINS OF NAVY PILOT MISSING FOR 18 YEARS IN IRAQ FOUND
August 02, 2009
(NATIONAL) -- The government announced today that the U.S. military has identified the remains of a Navy pilot shot down on the opening night of the Persian Gulf War, some 18 years ago.
The F/A-18 Hornet flown by Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, a graduate of Florida State University, was shot down on Jan. 17, 1991 while on a combat mission over western Iraq. He was considered the first U.S. casualty of the war.
The inability to find his body led to nearly two decades of controversy and uncertainty about how to classify his disappearance. But now, the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware has identified remains found in Al Anbar Province as those of Speicher.
The discovery of the remains began when an Iraqi contacted Marines in Anbar province with information about a desert location believed to be the crash site. From that information, Marines found a Bedouin living in the desert who said he was present when Speicher's plane crashed and his body was buried.
The remains included bones and multiple skeletal fragments. Although the dental records match, the military is running DNA tests for additional confirmation.
Speicher was flying off the carrier Saratoga. Various reports have said his plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile or by an Iraqi MIG. Speicher was 33 years old, married with two children when he died.
After the U.S. toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2003, investigators began looking all over Anbar province for clues about Speicher's crash.