Body of Pilot Killed in Iraq Returns Home After 10 Years

Major Troy Gilbert was killed while fighting insurgents in 2006
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 12, 2016 5:42 PM CDT
Body of Pilot Killed in Iraq Returns Home After 10 Years
Major Troy Gilbert's body was returned to the US last week, nearly 10 years after the US Air Force pilot was killed in Iraq.   (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force)

"I do know one prayer I'm not going to pray tonight," Kaye Gilbert tells KVUE. "I'm not going to pray for my son to come home because he is home." The body of Major Troy Gilbert returned to the US last week nearly 10 years after the F-16 pilot was killed in Iraq, the Arizona Republic reports. Gilbert was killed when his plane crashed while protecting coalition forces from an insurgent attack. Before the Air Force could recover his body, it was snatched by Al Qaeda fighters. Kay Gilbert says her son's body was used as a "trophy" by Al Qaeda and appeared in a 2007 propaganda film. Meanwhile, his family buried the scant remains the Air Force did recover at Arlington National Cemetery in 2006.

But Gilbert's family wasn't satisfied. They pressured the Air Force to keep looking, and a few more remains were found in 2012. Then in August, a tribal leader in Iraq told a US military leader he had the remains and flight gear of a US pilot. DNA tests confirmed it was Gilbert. Gilbert's widow, Ginger Ravella, and his five children were there when his body returned to US soil last week, according to the Air Force. Ravella calls it "bittersweet." “As our military promised, no one was left behind on the field of battle,” she says. “Troy is home." Gilbert's body will join the rest of his recovered remains at Arlington. He is remembered for his "amazing display of bravery" in protecting coalition forces from "almost certain disaster." (More Iraq war stories.)

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