Michael Scott Speicher

Captain, U.S. Navy

KIA - Iraq 1991


Shot down 17 Jan 1991

On 17 January, 1991, then Lt. Cmdr. Michael Speicher's F-18 Hornet disappeared after an encounter with an Iraqi Mig fighter. Lieutenant Commander Speicher reportedly bailed out of his damaged aircraft, and went in search of medical attention. He was found by Bedouins and nursed back to health by them. It's alleged that the Bedouins later tried to exchange the Navy pilot with U.S. authorities for about $1,800, but the exchange was deemed to risky because of the presence of Hussein's Republican Guards in the area.
It has been charged that no truly concerted effort was made to locate and rescue Lieutenant Commander - now Captain - Speicher until the recent Operation Iraqi Freedom was underway. There is said to be evidence that he was held captive in several places over the years, and that he left coded messages at each of these locations. Whatever the truth, it's apparent that Speicher did survive, was taken captive, and that no sustained effort was made to locate and rescue him for a number of years. Needles to say, this is not a shining example of the much-touted "No One Left Behind" Policy. A joint team of officials from the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency is now in Iraq, searching for clues to Capt. Speicher's fate.
On March 1, 2004, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., sent Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a letter asking why he had never made available a $1 million reward for information about Speicher that Congress had authorized and funded last year. The letter urged Rumsfeld to reconsider. Rumsfeld replied that an aide would be in touch with the senator.



Found at Last

By PAULINE JELINEK and PAMELA HESS, Associated Press Writers Pauline Jelinek And Pamela Hess, Associated Press Writers Sun Aug 2, 6:51 pm ET
WASHINGTON Navy pilot Michael "Scott" Speicher was shot down over the Iraq desert on the first night of the Gulf War in 1991 and it was there he apparently was buried by Bedouins, the sand hiding him from the world's mightiest military all these years.

In a sorrowful resolution to the nearly two-decade-old question about his fate, the Pentagon disclosed Sunday it had received new information last month from an Iraqi citizen that led Marines to recover bones and skeletal fragments enough for a positive identification.

His family issued a statement Sunday saying, "The news that Captain Speicher has died on Iraqi soil after ejecting from his aircraft has been difficult for the family, but his actions in combat, and the search for him, will forever remain in their hearts and minds."


August 02, 2009
Remains Identified as Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher
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




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