Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Iraqi's childhood memories solved pilot mystery

An Iraqi Bedouin's dim childhood memories led US authorities to the long-sought remains of a US Navy pilot shot down over Iraq in 1991 during the first Gulf War, a US Senator said Wednesday.Democratic Senator Bill Nelson said the "mystery" surrounding Captain Michael Speicher's fate unraveled thanks to a tribal nomad, a child at the time of the conflict, "remembered a pilot being buried."The man "couldn't identify the location, but knew of another Bedouin who was an adult at the time, and that Bedouin ultimately led the Marines to the site," the Florida lawmaker said on the floor of the US Senate.

The Pentagon announced Sunday that Speicher's remains had been identified, nearly 19 years after his F/A-18 Hornet was shot down over west-central Iraq on January 17th, 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.His fate had long remained a mystery, with some believing that the pilot was being held prisoner by then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Acting on a tip from local Iraqis, US Marines stationed in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar in July recovered human remains from a desert grave and flew them to the United States for identification.

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