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12/7/03 - ACCOUNTING FOR GULF WAR MISSING - 2003-12-08

The only American still unaccounted for in the 1991 Persian Gulf War is U.S. Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher. He was the pilot of an F-18 Navy jet that was shot down or crashed in the Iraqi desert between Baghdad and the Jordanian border on January 17th, 1991.

In March 1991, all known prisoners from the U.S.-led coalition were repatriated from Iraqi custody. All known remains of those killed in action were also returned with the exception of Speicher and one pilot from Saudi Arabia. In May 1991, the U.S. changed Speicher's status from missing in action to killed in action.

After long and difficult negotiations with the Saddam Hussein regime, U.S. experts visited the crash site of Speicher’s aircraft in December 1995 and spent five days investigating. The U.S. government pressed Iraqi authorities for information concerning Speicher, but cooperation was not forthcoming. Reports from a number of sources indicated that he might have survived the crash. Accordingly, the U.S. Navy, in January 2001, revised Speicher's status to missing in action. On October 11th, 2002, he was reclassified as "missing-captured."

Since the end of major combat in Iraq in May 2003, the U.S. has made intensive efforts to find Captain Speicher or his remains. That investigation continues.

The area where Speicher's aircraft crashed is a known Bedouin area. The U.S. believes that Bedouins who were encamped there at the time of the crash may have information regarding Speicher's fate. The U.S. will give asylum to any person and his or her parents, spouse, and children from anywhere in the greater Middle East who personally delivers Captain Speicher into the custody of the U.S. government. Anyone with information concerning him should contact U.S. authorities.