Sunday, August 02, 2009

RIP Michael Speicher.............

I am so sad, yet relieved there is finally an answer. I have followed this story and what happened to Michael Speicher for years.

The remains of the first American lost in the Gulf War have been found in Iraq, solving a mystery that has bedevilled the US military since his jet was shot down on the first night of the 1991 conflict.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that the remains of Navy Captain Michael “Scott” Speicher had been identified from bone fragments unearthed in the desert after two Iraqi civilians contacted Marines to say that they knew where he had been buried.

The discovery ends 18 years of uncertainty about the fate of Captain Speicher, who left behind a wife and two young children. The Pentagon initially declared him killed, but the lack of remains, and claims by some Iraqis to have seen him in captivity, led officials to change his status to “missing in action” and later “missing-captured”.

After the 2003 invasion of Iraq an entire military unit devoted its time to searching for the missing pilot. A series of false leads followed, including the discovery of what some believed were the initials “MSS” scratched into the wall of an Iraqi prison.
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It now appears that Captain Speicher was buried by nomadic Bedouin tribesmen close to where his F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet was shot down during a combat mission on January 17, 1991, the first night of Operation Desert Storm.

His aircraft crashed in a remote, uninhabited wasteland. It is believed that he was shot down by a missile fired from an Iraqi aircraft, most likely a MiG-25.

The Pentagon said that last month an Iraqi civilian provided new information, prompting US Marines stationed in the western province of Anbar to visit a location in the desert believed to be the crash site. He said that he knew of two other Iraqis who recalled a US 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 Bedouin and his remains buried,” the US Defense Department said in a statement. The military recovered bones and multiple skeletal fragments, which were flown back to the US. Captain Speicher was positively identified by matching a jawbone and dental records at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.

Cindy Laquidara, a spokeswoman for the Speicher family in Florida, said: “The family’s proud of the way the Defense Department continued on with our request to not abandon the search. We will be bringing him home.” The Navy’s top uniformed officer praised the effort to determine Captain Speicher’s fate.

“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.

“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.”

Hours after his plane went down Dick Cheney, the Defense Secretary, went on television and announced that the US had suffered its first casualty of the war. But doubts grew over the years that he had actually died. When his crashed jet was found, his empty flight suit was still largely intact.

In 2005 the US military excavated a potential grave site in Baghdad, while several Iraqis said that they had seen a prisoner who looked like Captain Speicher in custody. Saddam Hussein and his Iraqi officials always denied any knowledge of what had happened to the pilot.

1 comment:

Mo Domhan Sona said...

I was SO glad to read this story. May his family finally have some peace from this news.

My prayers are with them.