Speicher no longer listed as captured
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    Exclamation Speicher no longer listed as captured

    Speicher no longer listed as captured
    By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
    Mideast edition, Wednesday, March 11, 2009

    ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy secretary has reclassified a Navy pilot shot down over Iraq in the first Gulf War from captured to missing.

    Lt. Cmdr. Michael "Scott" Speicher’s F/A-18 Hornet was hit by an Iraqi missile on Jan. 17, 1991, making him the first casualty of Operation Desert Storm.

    Speicher was initially listed as killed in action/body not recovered, but his status was later changed to missing and then captured based on sightings of him that have since been discredited, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

    He was also promoted twice, to captain, while listed as missing, according to the Navy.

    Former President George W. Bush cited Speicher’s alleged detention as one of the reasons to go to war with Saddam Hussein, and the military conducted a search for him after the 2003 invasion.

    The search found the letters "MSS" written in an Iraqi prison, leading to speculation that they could be the initials for "Michael Scott Speicher."

    "I’ve seen his handwriting. The ‘M’, the ‘S’, those were Scott’s," one of Speicher’s high school friends, Jim Stafford, told Stars and Stripes in January 2004. "There is no doubt in my mind he was in that cell."

    But in 2008, the intelligence community determined that Speicher is dead though his remains have not been found, setting in motion the latest change, the Defense Department news release said.

    Navy Secretary Donald Winter said in a statement Tuesday that he decided to reclassify Speicher’s status after a review board recommended continuing to list Speicher as captured.

    Winter said he had doubts about the review board’s conclusion that Speicher could have survived his ejection.

    "Consequently, I cannot support the recommendation of the Status Review Board," Winter said in the statement.

    "However, in the abundance of caution, and in the absence of a board report on which I can rely; I determine that Captain Speicher’s status should be changed to ‘Missing in Action.’ "

    The change in Speicher’s status will not end efforts to find Speicher, said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.


  2. #2
    March 10, 2009

    Navy Changes Speicher Status To ‘Missing-In-Action’

    Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter determined today that the status of Capt. Michael Scott Speicher is changed from “Missing/Captured” to “Missing-In-Action” (MIA).

    This determination was made after a review of available information; including the report and recommendation of a Status Review Board and comments provided by the Speicher family, as well as a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment.

    Speicher was the first casualty of Operation Desert Storm. His F/A-18 Hornet was downed by hostile action on January 17, 1991, during the first manned air strike of the war, and he was declared “Killed-In-Action/Body-Not-Recovered” in May 1991.

    His status was changed in 2001 to MIA, and then to Missing/Captured in 2002 based on sighting reports in Iraq. Those sightings have since been discredited.

    In October 2008, the intelligence community concluded that Speicher is deceased, though his remains are unlocated. Based on that assessment, the Secretary of the Navy convened a Status Review Board to consider whether Speicher's status should remain Missing/Captured or should be changed.

    Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.


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