Remains Of U.S. Fighter Pilot Found After 18 Years

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The first American lost on the first night of the Persian Gulf War, back in 1991, was Navy Capt. Michael "Scott" Speicher, who was shot down over the Iraqi desert while flying his FA-18 Hornet as part of Operation Desert Storm. His fate was uncertain, and the Pentagon changed his status several times from killed to missing to captured, but now his remains have been found and positively identified, 18 years later. "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." Acting on information provided by an Iraqi citizen in early July, U.S. Marines stationed in Al Anbar Province went to a location in the desert which was believed to be the crash site of Speicher's jet, the Navy said on Sunday. Remains were recovered, including bones and multiple skeletal fragments, and positive identification was made by dental records.

A lab is also running DNA tests, which will take another day, the Navy said. Cindy Laquidara, a spokeswoman for the Speicher family, told the Associated Press the family is proud that the Defense Department honored their request to not abandon the search. "We will be bringing him home." She said the family would have another statement after being briefed by defense officials. Speicher's family includes two children who were toddlers when he disappeared but now are in college.