The Navy announced today additional details regarding the recent discovery of the remains of Navy Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher in Iraq. Speicher was shot down flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet over west-central Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.
Acting in part on information provided by an Iraqi citizen in early July, Multi National Force – West’s (MNF-W) personnel recovery team went to a location in the desert which was believed to be the crash site of Speicher’s jet. The Iraqi, a Bedouin, was 11 years old at the time of the crash and did not have direct knowledge of where Speicher was buried, but knew of other Bedouins who did. He willingly provided his information during general discussion with MNF-W personnel and stated he was unaware of the U.S. government’s interest in this case until queried by U.S. investigators in July 2009.
The Iraqi citizens led MNF-W’s personnel recovery team to the area they believed Speicher was buried. The area where the remains were recovered was located approximately 100 kilometers west of Ramadi, in Anbar province. There were two sites that teams searched. One site was next to the downed aircraft that was discovered in 1993 and the other site was approximately two kilometers away. The second site was where Speicher’s remains were recovered.
The recovery personnel searched two sites from July 22-29. The personnel recovery team consisted of approximately 150 people, mostly Marines and other forces under MNF-W.
The recovered remains include bones and multiple skeletal fragments. Based on visual examination of the remains and dental records at the site, a preliminary assessment was reached that the remains were that of Speicher. After searching the site another day, no further remains were recovered.
On July 30, the remains were turned over from the recovery team to MNF-W mortuary affairs at Al Asad. The remains were then transported to the Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base, Del. They were examined by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology’s (AFIP) Armed Forces medical examiner who positively identified them as those of Speicher on Aug. 1.
Positive identification by AFIP was made by comparing Speicher’s dental records with the jawbone recovered at the site. The teeth were a match, both visually and radiographically. AFIP’s DNA Lab in Rockville, Md., confirmed the remains to be Speicher on Aug. 2 via DNA comparison tests of the remains by comparing them to DNA reference samples previously provided by family members.
For additional information, please contact Navy public affairs at (703) 697-5342.