Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pentagon Discuses Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher

Washington, D.C. (Oct. 11, 2002) Navy file photo of Navy Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher, the F/A-18 "Hornet" pilot who was shot down over Iraq on the opening night of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. (U.S. Navy Photo.)

News in Balance:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2, 2009 -- Remains found last month in Iraq's Anbar province are those of Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, who was shot down flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet on Jan. 17, 1991, and whose fate until now had been uncertain, Defense Department officials reported today.

Acting on information provided by Iraqi civilians, Marines stationed in Anbar province went to a desert location believed to be the crash site of Speicher's jet, and the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology positively identified remains recovered there Speicher's.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher's family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country," Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. "I am also extremely grateful to all those who have worked so tirelessly over the last 18 years to bring Captain Speicher home."

The Navy's top uniformed officer also praised the effort to determine Speicher's fate and expressed gratitude for the fallen aviator's sacrifice. "Our Navy will never give up looking for a shipmate, regardless of how long or how difficult that search may be," said Adm. 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."

In early July, an Iraqi civilian told Marines he knew twotwo people who recalled an American jet crashing and the remains of the pilot being buried. One of those people said he was present when Bedouins found Speicher dead and buried his remains. The Iraqis led Marines to the site, and the Marines searched the area. Remains were recovered over several days during the past week and were flown to Dover Air Force Base, Del., for scientific identification by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology's Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

The recovered remains include bones and skeletal fragments. Positive identification was made by comparing Speicher's dental records with the jawbone recovered at the site. The teeth are a match, both visually and radiographically, officials said.

While dental records have confirmed the remains to be Speicher's, officials said, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology DNA Lab in Rockville, Md., is running DNA tests on the remains and comparing them to DNA reference samples previously provided by his family. Results are expected tomorrow.

(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)

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