Navy Pilot Speicher Laid To Rest In Florida Scott Speicher was buried Friday in his adopted hometown of Jacksonville, Fla. A large crowd helped honor the first U.S. casualty of the first Gulf War. The Navy pilot was shot down in 1981, but his remains were only recently recovered and returned to U.S. soil. Nicole Back reports for member station WJCT.
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Navy Pilot Speicher Laid To Rest In Florida

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Navy Pilot Speicher Laid To Rest In Florida

Navy Pilot Speicher Laid To Rest In Florida

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

In Florida today, thousands of people turned out for a long overdue ceremony. Michael Scott Speicher was the first person to die in the first Gulf War back in 1991. His fighter jet was shot down over the Iraqi desert. His remains were finally found a few weeks ago and today he was laid to rest. Nicole Back of member station of WJCT reports.

NICOEL BACK: At Jacksonville's Veterans Memorial Wall today, bagpipers played the tribute to Navy Captain Scott Speicher.

(Soundbite of bagpipe)

BACK: Florida's governor, the city's mayor and others spoke at the ceremony. Since Speicher's disappearance 18 years ago, his family had pressed the Defense Department to find out what happened. Marla Albert(ph) is part of Jacksonville's Rolling Thunder, a group that draws attention to the military's missing in action.

Ms. MARLA ALBERT (Member, Rolling Thunder): We're just glad that he finally is brought back and we need to make sure that we get all of our men and women that are in the military brought back to us.

BACK: Jackie Duette's(ph) son is in the Navy and participated in Speicher's ceremony. She posted a sign in her yard when he disappeared and still wears a bracelet engraved with Speicher's name and rank. She says this public tribute is important.

Ms. JACKIE DUETTE: We actually should do this for every person coming home whether they're alive or deceased. And Scott, he should have been home a long time ago.

BACK: Speicher was born in Kansas, but moved to Jacksonville when he was a teenager. Today, a hearse drove a 30-mile route past important places in his life, his high school, church and the naval station where his squadron used to be based. Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher was buried today in a private ceremony.

For NPR News, I'm Nicole Back in Jacksonville.

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