Page last updated at 12:11 GMT, Sunday, 2 August 2009 13:11 UK

Remains of Gulf War pilot found

Photograph of Capt Speicher
Capt Speicher's remains were found in a remote area of western Iraq

The US military has found the remains of the last American still officially missing in action from the Gulf War.

Capt Michael Scott Speicher, an F18 pilot, was shot down over Iraq on the first day of the war in January 1991.

Last month, an Iraqi citizen took US marines, based in Anbar Province, to the crash site. He told them where the remains had been buried in the desert.

Subsequent excavations recovered bones and bone fragments. Capt Speicher was identified through his dental records.

Adm Gary Roughead, Chief of Navy Operations, said in a press statement: "Our Navy will never give up looking for a shipmate, regardless of how long or how difficult that search may be."

The crash site is in a remote, sparsely-inhabited area of western Iraq. Witnesses told the US investigators that Capt Speicher - who was 33 at the time - was found dead by Bedouin, who buried his remains.

He was the first American combat casualty of the war, Operation Desert Storm.

The Navy initially declared Capt Speicher killed in action, but after a series of conflicting intelligence reports, changed his status to missing in action in 2001.

In 2002 it was changed again, to "missing/captured".

His disappearance was one of the great mysteries of the Gulf War, and rumours persisted until this year that he might still be alive, and a captive in Iraq.

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