Speicher’s Remains Identified

The Pentagon announced Aug. 2 that the remains of Navy Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, the first US pilot lost over Iraq during the opening phase of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, have been positively identified, culminating an 18-year saga. Speicher was downed while flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet over west-central Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991. According to the Pentagon, US marines, acting on information provided by an Iraqi citizen, last month found Speicher’s remains in the western Iraqi desert. Among the bones and skeletal fragments, the jawbone found matched his dental records, DOD said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher’s family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country,” said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Adm. Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, added “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.” During those 18 years, Speicher’s status changed between killed in action to missing in action, then to missing/captured, before finally reverting to MIA this past March. (For more, read yesterday’s Los Angeles Times report and Sunday’s New York Times report.)