FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lennon (USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, Inc.)
Brad Senter (USS Saratoga Reunion Association)
USS SARATOGA GROUPS ENCOURAGE PROMPT ACTION ON MISSING GULF WAR PILOT
LCDR Scott Speicher, flying off the USS Saratoga in January 1991, was America's first casualty during Operation Desert Storm
Ten years ago today, Navy Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher's F/A-18 Hornet was launched from the deck of the USS Saratoga, part of the first air strike against Iraq during Operation Desert Storm. Some time in the next two hours Speicher was shot down, becoming the first American casualty in that 1991 conflict, and the only one whose fate remains unknown today.
The Rhode Island-based USS Saratoga Museum Foundation, Inc. has joined with the USS Saratoga Reunion Association to ask for a speedy resolution of the lingering controversy surrounding his loss
In December 1997 Tim Weiner wrote an article for the New York Times about Speicher's fate. Weiner concluded by saying, "The first American to fall in the Persian Gulf War remains the last to be accounted for."
In March of 1999, Senator Bob Smith of New Hampshire and Senator Rod Grams of Minnesota wrote to the Secretary of the Navy requesting LCDR Speicher's "finding of death" determination be set aside in view of additional evidence that suggested he had successfully ejected and landed in Iraq alive.
Officers of both Saratoga groups applauded last week's decision by the Pentagon to change Speicher's status from "Killed in Action" to "Missing in Action."
"I believe the final catalyst for action may have been last spring's segment about Speicher on 60 Minutes," said Frank Lennon, leader of the effort to create a museum and memorial at Quonset Point, RI featuring Speicher's ship. "That feature told a nationwide audience there was no proof of Speicher's death, and in fact there were some indicators he may have survived that were not aggressively followed up," asserts Lennon.
According to CBS (May 2, 2000):
Speicher is still listed as 'Killed In Action.' But with mounting evidence that he survived the crash, and without any evidence that he died, U.S. intelligence agencies are launching a new search. Investigators aren't ruling out the possibility - slim though it might be - that Speicher could be alive in Iraq.
"Scott Speicher is one of our shipmates, and we will not rest until his fate is clearly determined," said Brad Senter of Texas City, TX, president of the Saratoga veterans association. "Frank Lennon got in touch with me last May, right after the 60 Minutes segment aired," said Senter. "I agreed we should pursue this issue."
Both will write letters requesting Members of Congress to support a prompt and forceful effort to determine what really happened to Speicher.
Related information and documentation (all documents in Adobe Acrobat format):
Web page creation and site maintenance by West Bay Web.