Remains Of Pilot Missing 18 Years In Iraq Found

The remains of the first American lost in the Persian Gulf War have been found in Iraq, the military said Sunday, after struggling for nearly two decades with the question of whether he was dead or alive.

The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has positively identified the remains of Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher, whose disappearance has bedeviled investigators since his jet was shot down over the Iraq desert on the first night of the 1991 war.

The top Navy officer said the discovery illustrates the military's commitment to bring its troops home.

"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. "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."

The Pentagon initially declared Speicher killed, but uncertainty and the lack of remains led officials over the years to change his official status a number of times to "missing in action" and later "missing-captured."

After years, the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq finally gave investigators the chance to search inside Iraq. It produced to a number of leads, including what some believed were the initials "MSS" scratched into the wall of an Iraqi prison.

The search also led investigators to excavate a potential grave site in Baghdad in 2005, track down Iraqis said to have information about Speicher and make numerous other inquiries in what officials say has been an exhaustive search.

Officials said Sunday that they got new information from an Iraqi citizen in early July, leading Marines stationed in Anbar province to a location in the desert which was believed to be the crash site of Speicher's jet.

The Iraqi said he knew of two other Iraqis who recalled an American jet crashing and the remains of the pilot being buried in the desert.

"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 Pentagon said in a statement.

He was positively identified through a jawbone found at the site and dental records, said Read Adm. Frank Thorp.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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  • by voter Location: nc on Aug 5, 2009 at 03:27 PM
    sure would enjoy a sit down with anon 10:43
  • by Anonymous on Aug 4, 2009 at 07:43 AM
    We will all sleep safer tonite knowing this. He's dead. The POW/MIA myth is what it is- a myth.
  • by Whezza Location: Martin County on Aug 2, 2009 at 08:45 AM
    I am glad that CPT. Speicher has been found and brought back home. Perhaps now his family will find closure and may peace be with you now. I pray for his family, our active duty military their families. May God be with each and everyone of you. But let us not forget that we still have 44 North Carolina Viet Nam era POW/MIA's still unaccounted for, one of which is from Jamesville in Martin County. May those soldiers and their families find peace as well.
  • by Amanda Location: Greenville on Aug 2, 2009 at 07:32 AM
    I am so happy now the family can have closure. My prayers are with his family.
  • by ThinBlueLine Location: Eastern NC on Aug 2, 2009 at 06:14 AM
    I'm sure Speicher had thoughts of dying as the jet went down and I'm sure he knew he would be dying for the country he loved. I am glad that the family can now be free but the US authorities should have delt with Iraq then. Look at where we are now...more lives and more missing. The US should defend our people from attacks and fix the crime, hunger and economic situation here before fixing them across the world. I salute all of our heros and may God bring wisdom to this country's leaders.
  • by Joe Location: Greenville on Aug 2, 2009 at 06:09 AM
    Finally. Welcome home pilot. RIP.

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