Scott Speicher Remains Found

This image provided by the U.S. Navy Oct. 11, 2002 shows a 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 Jan. 1991. The Pentagon initially declared him killed, but uncertainty led officials over the years to change his official status a number of times to 'missing in action' and 'missing-captured.' (AP Photo/US Navy Photo)

Captain Scott Speicher’s remains have been found more than eighteen years after he was shot down during Desert Storm.

The remains of the first American lost in the Persian Gulf War have been found in Iraq, the military said Sunday, after struggling for nearly two decades with the question of whether he was dead or alive.

The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has positively identified the remains of Navy Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher, whose disappearance has bedeviled investigators since his fighter jet was shot down over the Iraq desert on the first night of the 1991 war.

The top Navy officer said the discovery illustrates the military’s commitment to bring its troops home. “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.”

The Pentagon initially declared Speicher killed, but uncertainty — and the lack of remains — led officials over the years to change his official status a number of times to “missing in action” and later “missing-captured.”

Family spokeswoman Cindy Laquidara said relatives learned on Saturday that Speicher’s remains had been found. “The family’s proud of the way the Defense Department continued on with our request” to not abandon the search for the downed pilot, she said. “We will be bringing him home.”

It’s great that the family finally has closure.

UPDATE: Speicher was a Lieutenant Commander at the time he was shot down.  Per tradition, he was promoted with his peers over the years, a practice that applies to both prisoners of war and those missing in action.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jim Henley says:

    I’m very glad of this news. As you say, it’s got to be a relief to the family.

    But man, James, that headline is a bit awkwardly put. It’s got a real “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead” vibe to it.

  2. just me says:

    I agree with Jim on the title-it threw me off until I read the actual story-Maybe “Remains of . . .” would have been better.

    However I am glad they were able to finally find and identify the remains and give some closure to the family.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I’m glad this has finally brought to closure for the family. I was on the periphery of some of the efforts to locate then LCDR Speicher over the last decade and it always vexed me why it took so long after OIF to finally find someone who knew where he was buried.

  4. CHAPLIN GEORGE W LEE 111 says:

    i am a vietnam vet.i am the chaplin of post 680 [veterans of fotrign wars ] in lexington, are in our prayers and thoughts. may god bless you as you get some closure.

  5. S_in_Severn says:

    May all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace. And may this news bring peace to his family and all those that knew him.

    Sucks that it has taken this long, and triple sucks that there are still so many from both the Korea and Viet Nam engagements that the living have no clue about their where-abouts.

  6. James Joyner says:

    But man, James, that headline is a bit awkwardly put. It’s got a real “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead” vibe to it.

    Heh. Headlines, which tend not to be grammatical, often have the effect since so many words have multiple meanings. That’s doubly true on the Web, since many of us write headlines with one eye toward Google.