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Remains of Navy pilot Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher, the first Desert Storm casualty, MIA since ’91, identified

by Bob in Breckenridge ( 8 Comments › )
Filed under Military at August 2nd, 2009 - 8:57 pm

Rest in peace, Captain Speicher, you’re an American hero…

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.

For nearly two decades, the family Speicher left behind, from outside Jacksonville, Fla., pushed the Defense Department to find out what had happened to him. On Sunday, the Pentagon disclosed that Marines had recovered Speicher’s bones and skeletal fragments — enough for a positive identification.

Shot down over west-central Iraq on a combat mission in his FA-18 Hornet on Jan. 17, 1991, Speicher was declared killed by the Pentagon hours later. Defense Secretary Dick Cheney went on television and announced the U.S. had suffered its first casualty of the war.

But 10 years later, the Navy changed his status to missing in action, citing an absence of evidence that Speicher had died. In October 2002, the Navy switched his status to “missing/captured,” although it has never said what evidence it had that he ever was in captivity. More reviews followed, without definitive answers.

His story never waned in Jacksonville. A large banner flying outside a firefighters’ credit union has a photo of him with the words “Free Scott Speicher.” At his church, a memorial was put up in his honor. The tennis complex at his alma mater, Florida State University, was named for him.

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8 Responses to “Remains of Navy pilot Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher, the first Desert Storm casualty, MIA since ’91, identified”
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  1. 1 | August 2, 2009 9:02 pm

    Did those who buried him do so to hide the evidence or were they paying respect to a dead person by burying them?

  2. Bob in Breckenridge
    2 | August 2, 2009 9:18 pm

    re: #1 by LanceKates

    Good question, and obviously the story does not say. My guess is that if they were Bedouins, it was not to hide anything, but rather to respectfully bury him, since Bedouins are nomadic and a lot like the Amish in our country with no electricity, TV’s or radios, and they also have lived in live in tents in the desert for centuries.

  3. 3 | August 2, 2009 9:53 pm

    I’m kinda wondering how the Iraqis downed an FA-18. Did they have a Goose and Maverick? Maybe Gussan and Maverid?

  4. 4 | August 2, 2009 10:46 pm

    All gave some and some gave all
    And some stood through for the red, white and blue

    And some had to fall

    America Welcomes Home Another Son

  5. OldDog
    5 | August 2, 2009 11:24 pm


    Best two guesses going around are a lucky shot with a MANPAD (Man Portable Air Defense, think Stinger) or the “Wall of Steel” Golden BB.

    Once the integrated defense grid went down early that night thats about the only chance they had.

    “Wall of Steel” is “point everything you got straight up, let em rip and pray for luck.”

  6. Bob in Breckenridge
    6 | August 2, 2009 11:40 pm

    re: #3 by ChenZhen

    I’m no expert, but I did spend 4 years as an avionics tech/flight engineer when I was in the Navy flying P-3 Orions on anti-sub warfare missions while based at NAS, Barbers Point, Hawaii.

    My educated guess would be that at the very beginning of the war the Iraqis kind of “shot their wad”, in other words they fired hundreds, if not thousands of SAM’s (surface to air missiles), hoping to hit something, and they shot down Capt. Speicher’s F/A 18 at the start of Desert Storm.

  7. Speranza
    7 | August 3, 2009 5:31 am

    Like Ron Arad before him, I always felt that he was murdered by his barbarous captors.

  8. vagabond trader
    8 | August 3, 2009 6:46 am

    Glad he is coming home and hope this provides some peace to his family and friends.

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