22 – 30 July 2009: Recovery of Capt. Scott Speicher

090728-M-0000X-501The battalion, operating as part of Task Force Personnel Recovery, located the remains of missing Navy pilot Michael “Scott” Speicher.


News

Speicher Search Details Announced

Story Number: NNS090807-14
Release Date: 8/7/2009 4:11:00 PM
From the Department of Defense

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced Aug. 7 additional details regarding the recent discovery of the remains of Navy Capt. Michael “Scott” Speicher in Iraq.

Speicher was shot down flying a combat mission in an F/A-18 Hornet over west-central Iraq Jan. 17, 1991, during Operation Desert Storm.

Acting in part on information provided by an Iraqi citizen in early July, Multi National Force-West’s (MNF-W) personnel recovery team went to a location in the desert which was believed to be the crash site of Speicher’s jet. The Iraqi, a Bedouin, was 11 years old at the time of the crash and did not have direct knowledge of where Speicher was buried but knew of other Bedouins who did. He willingly provided his information during general discussion with MNF-W personnel and stated he was unaware of the U.S. government’s interest in this case until queried by U.S. investigators in July.

The Iraqi citizens led MNF-W’s personnel recovery team to the area they believed Speicher was buried. The area where the remains were recovered was located approximately 100 kilometers west of Ramadi, in Anbar province. There were two sites that teams searched. One site was next to the downed aircraft that was discovered in 1993, and the other site was approximately two kilometers away. The second site was where Speicher’s remains were recovered.

The recovery personnel searched two sites July 22-29. The personnel recovery team consisted of approximately 150 people, mostly Marines and other forces under MNF-W.

The recovered remains include bones and multiple skeletal fragments. Based on visual examination of the remains and dental records at the site, a preliminary assessment was reached that the remains were that of Speicher. After searching the site another day, no further remains were recovered.

On July 30, the remains were turned over from the recovery team to MNF-W mortuary affairs at Al Asad. The remains were then transported to Dover Port Mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, Del. They were examined by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology’s (AFIP) Armed Forces medical examiner who positively identified them as those of Speicher Aug. 1.

Positive identification by AFIP was made by comparing Speicher’s dental records with the jawbone recovered at the site. The teeth were a match, both visually and radiographically. AFIP’s DNA Lab in Rockville, Md., confirmed the remains to be Speicher on Aug. 2 via DNA comparison tests of the remains by comparing them to DNA reference samples previously provided by family members.

Source: Department of Defense


Twists, turns delayed finding pilot killed in Iraq

The instructions finally paid off last July. A sheik told Marines of a Bedouin who remembered a burial 20 years earlier. The sheik couldn’t recall the exact location, but it was enough for the Marines. They returned to the old site that had frustrated the Red Cross searchers and with 100 men, bulldozers and back hoes, they turned over four football fields worth of desert, 4 feet deep.

The earth yielded another piece of a pilot’s flight suit and a jaw bone. The teeth matched the missing pilot’s dental records. Michael Scott Speicher, who reached the rank of captain because he kept receiving promotions while his status was unknown, had been there all along, Brown said.

Copyright © Associated Press, 28 November 2009


Photographs


Awards

Bronze Star

Damon Torres

Bronze Star

For meritorious service in connection with combat operations against the enemy while serving as the Commanding Officer, Kilo Company, Task Force Military Police, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), from 10 April 2009 to 1 October 2009, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Captain Torres led his company in convoy security, enemy combatant detainee release, and personnel recovery missions in Al Anbar Province, Republic of Iraq. Under Captain Torres’ Command, Kilo Company conducted 64 combat security missions covering over 17,000 miles. His leadership was instrumental in establishing Kilo Company as the battalion’s main effort throughout the seven month deployment. Captain Torres’ company flawlessly conducted fifteen mass detainee releases; sensitive missions with possible strategic implications. Most notably, Captain Torres commanded Task Force Personnel Recovery during July of 2009. His forward thinking and creativity was an integral part of the Task Force’s success. Captain Torres and his Marines and Sailors dedicated themselves to creating heretofore undefined techniques and procedures finally recovering Captain Scott Speicher of the United States Navy, the first casualty of the Persian Gulf War. Captain Torres’ tenacious commitment to mission accomplishment and inspiring personal example kept his Task Force on the recovery site days after the projected end of mission date relentlessly searching under the most austere conditions. His accomplishments closed a nineteen year investigation by the Department of Defense. Captain Torres’ total effectiveness, forceful leadership, and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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