Pilot Shot Down in 2006 Buried at Arlington—3 Times

Air Force Major Troy Gilbert was killed in Iraq
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2016 12:24 PM CST
3 Burials for Downed Pilot
The remains of Maj. Troy Gilbert arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., on Oct. 3, 2016.   (US Air Force)

A decade after his plane was shot down over Iraq, Air Force Major Troy Gilbert has been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery—for the third time. Time reports pieces of Gilbert's body had been previously buried there in 2006 and 2012. Monday's interment was no less somber as a lone bugle wailed "Taps" for some 400 mourners gathered in Section 60 of the hallowed cemetery, the final resting place for many soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Country singer Lee Brice performed songs dedicated to Gilbert, who was killed on Nov. 27, 2006. The 34-year-old pilot was protecting US troops not far from Baghdad when his F-16 crashed. Militants seized his body, leaving only bone fragments to bury at his funeral one month later. "He was like a trophy, going from tribal leader to tribal leader," says his father, Ron Gilbert.

When the military balked at recovering the rest of her husband's body, Gilbert's widow, Ginger Gilbert Ravella, began a campaign that reached into the highest echelons of the Pentagon, according to Stars and Stripes. In 2013, Gilbert's toe bones were recovered and there was a second funeral. Ravella puzzled about how to explain the multiple burials to the couple's five children, then ages 7 to 17. "You can imagine what it’s like for children to bury their father three times," she says. In September, a US special operations team recovered the rest of Gilbert's body, which on Monday found a final resting place amid a sea of white marble graves bedecked with a quarter-million holiday wreaths. Gilbert was a Texas Tech graduate, and bells at the school rang Monday in tribute, reports LubbockOnline. (In a milestone, a female WWII pilot was buried at Arlington this year.)

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