Speicher Found, RIP

Abraham Gubler

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18 March 2008
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Remains Identified as Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher

No. 571-09
August 02, 2009

The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) has positively identified remains recovered in Iraq as those of Captain Michael Scott Speicher. Captain Speicher was shot down flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet over west-central Iraq on January 17th, 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.

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

Acting on information provided by an Iraqi citizen in early July, US Marines stationed in Al Anbar Province went to a location in the desert which was believed to be the crash site of Captain Speicher's jet. The Iraqi citizen stated he knew of two Iraqi citizens who recalled an American jet impacting the desert 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 Iraqi citizens led US Marines to the site who searched the area. Remains were recovered over several days during the past week and flown to Dover Air Force Base for scientific identification by the AFIP's Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner.

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

While dental records have confirmed the remains to be those of Captain Speicher, the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology DNA Lab in Rockville, Maryland is running DNA tests on the remains recovered in Iraq and comparing them to DNA reference samples previously provided by family members. Results will take approximately 24 hours.

A high-resolution photo of Captain Speicher is available at http://www.navy.mil/view_single.asp?id=2934

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

With the location of Speicher's crash site and the identification of his remains hopefully forensic evidence can now show the cause of his loss, be it shot down by MiG-25 or SAM or collision with MiG-25 or even another cause.
Fascinating - I remember reading a book on the training of Marine F/A-18 pilots which referenced Speicher's death. It was a pretty good one, and I wish I could remember the name. IIRC, the book stated that his fellow pilots believed he was the victim of an air-to-air kill.

It's nice to know his remains have been recovered. Hopefully we will soon have some answers as to the cause of his death.

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