02 August, 2009

At Rest

His family... at long last:

"One of these Iraqi citizens stated that they were present when Captain Speicher was found dead at the crash site by Bedouins and his remains buried," the Pentagon said in a statement.

He was positively identified through a jawbone found at the site and dental records, said Read Adm. Frank Thorp.

As reports of his possible survival surfaced over the years, I hoped for their truth. But a part of me was horrified by the idea that he could've spent 10 or 15 years in an Iraqi prison. I didn't want to imagine how he would have suffered under such conditions. And to think of how his family must be suffering over those same years, suspended between loss and hope... Coping with death under "normal" circumstances is hard enough, the games your longing heart can play with the cold hard facts your mind knows... My heart has hurt for his family.

But now we know he truly has been at rest all this time.

It is the death of hope for his loved ones, but I pray it is also a comfort for them to now know it was quick for him, that he never suffered years of imprisonment and torture while wondering if he'd ever see his family again or--amidst the depression and disorientation that would surely come with such trials--wondering in his darkest and most fragile moments whether they had moved on without him.

May you rest in peace, with your country's gratitude... all of you.

UPDATE I: ROK Drop weighs in with a reminder of why there's an FOB Speicher in Iraq.
After the war in 2003 the Al Sahra Airfield outside of Tikrit was the area my unit secured and an initial brigade mission was to ask locals for information in regards to Captain Speicher who was believed to have crashed out in the desert west of Tikrit. Nothing become of the inquiries, but all of us at the brigade TOC were well aware of Speicher’s story and hoped something would eventually turn up. That is why the base was given the name initially Camp Speicher before being changed to FOB Speicher to keep the memory of Captain Speicher alive as new units rotated in and out of the base. It is good to see closure has finally come on this 18 year old mystery.

UPDATE II: Boudicca says it all in a powerful post drawing on her own experience of watching a friend deal with a KIA/MIA husband during Gulf War I.