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New Hope For MIA Capt. Scott Speicher
Thursday, March 20, 2003   By: Juan Paxety

A POW since 1991

Jacksonville's CBS affiliate, WTEV-47, is reporting in its on-air broadcasts (no Internet link to the story yet - update, a poorly written story is here) that the military may know the location of a US Navy pilot held prisoner by Iraq since 1991 - and that rescue missions are being planned.


Captain Scott Speicher and three other pilots took off in their F/A-18s from the deck of the USS Saratoga. It was January 17, 1991, the first night of the Gulf War. As they flew their bombing mission over Iraq, one of the other pilots saw Speicher's plane hit by anti-aircraft fire. He was assumed to be the first American killed in the war.

Speicher's widow, Joanne, later married Buddy Harris, another ex-Navy pilot and continued to live in Jacksonville. They raised Scott's children, and had children of their own, but kept hearing haunting stories. Every few weeks, they would hear from someone that Scott was still alive. There were reports that an Iraqi doctor had examined him, and stories of recovered pistols that may have belonged to Scott. Then they learned that Scott's plane had not been blown apart in  the sky.

The New York Times reported Qataris had found Speicher's Hornet sitting almost intact in the Iraqi desert. There was a man made symbol drawn near the ejection seat. It was the type of symbol pilots draw when they leave the aircraft and seek shelter, although it was not the symbol that had been assigned to Speicher. The story attracted the attention of Senators Robert Smith (R-NH)and Richard Shelby (R-AL).

In 1999, a man defected from Iraq with an interesting story. He said he had driven a captured US pilot to Baghdad, where he turned the pilot over to the authorities. He said the pilot was only slightly injured. US intelligence determined the man was probably telling the truth.

With the man's story in hand, Smith, now joined by the Harrises, pushed to have Speicher's status changed.

In 2001, President Clinton did just that. He changed Speicher's status to MIA.

Joanne and Buddy set up a web site pushing for Scott's freedom. Senator Bill Nelson (D- Fla) says finding Speicher is a top priority for the military commanders. If today's news is accurate, Speicher may soon be home.

(For more on the story Jacksonville's WJXT has links to stories since 2001.)

A Paxety Pages Update - a special defense and intelligence team is formed to search Baghdad for Speicher.


(c)1968- today j.e. simmons or michael warren