WASHINGTON — Navy officials announced early Sunday thatMarines in western Anbar Province, Iraq, had found remains that have been positively identified as those of an American fighter pilot shot down in the opening hours of the first Gulf War in 1991.
The Navy pilot, Michael Scott Speicher, was the only American missing in action from that war. Efforts to determine what happened to him after his F/A-18 Hornet was shot down by an Iraqi warplane on Jan. 17, 1991, had continued despite false rumors and scant information.
Conflicting reports from Iraq had, over the years, fueled speculation that the pilot, promoted to captain in the years he was missing, might have been taken into captivity either after parachuting from his jet or after a crash landing.
But the evidence in Iraq suggests he did not survive and was buried by Bedouins shortly after he was shot down.
An official statement released early Sunday said that Marines in western Iraq had received information from local citizens last month about the crash of an American jet and the burial of the pilot.
“One of these Iraqi citizens stated that they were present when Captain Speicher was found dead at the crash site by Bedouins and his remains buried,” the statement said. “The Iraqi citizens led U.S. Marines to the site.”