Remains of First Desert Storm Casualty Found

August 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The first American killed in Operation Desert Storm, more than 18 years ago , is now the last to come home. The first American killed in Operation Desert Storm, more than 18 years ago , is now the last to come home.

Sunday the Navy announced that the remains of Captain Michael "Scott" Speicher have been found and positively identified. Speicher, a Navy Pilot, was flying a combat mission on the first night of the first gulf War in 1991 when he was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. Then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney went on TV to declare him the first casualty of the war.

But his remains were never found and for years rumors persisted that he survived and was taken captive. In 2001, because of the uncertainty, his status was changed from killed, to missing-in-action.

Then, just last month, an Iraqi citizen came forward, saying he knew where Captain Speicher went down. The informant said Speicher's remains were respectfully buried by Bedouin tribesmen in the desert of West-Central Iraq.

It was there that a team of U.S. investigators found his skeletal remains. "I guess you could use the word bittersweet. You could certainly say it's good there is closure because the family's been up and down for all these years," said Senator Bill Nelson (D) Florida.

For the Navy and the nation, Speicher's return is both a sad and proud moment. Navy spokesman John Daniels said, "This has been a priority for us for the past 18 years. Always the Navy will never give up looking for one of our lost shipmates regardless of how long or how difficult the search may be."

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