US Pilot remains found in Iraq after 18 years

Author: AP

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. And it led 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.

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