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Additional remains found of pilot killed in Iraq

Nov. 24, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Luke rallies to support downed pilot's family
Maj. Troy Gilbert, an F-16 pilot, was killed in an F-16 crash Nov. 27, 2006. (Air Force)
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About seven years after he died, and a year and a half after the search for his remains restarted in Iraq, there will be another ceremony for Maj. Troy Gilbert at Arlington National Cemetery.

Gilbert was killed in November 2006 when his F-16C crashed north of Baghdad. He was providing close air support for surrounded special operations troops. While the Air Force was initially able to identify and bring home body tissue from the crash scene, insurgents removed Gilbert’s body from the site and used it in a propaganda video.

After U.S. troops pulled out of Iraq in 2011, the search for Gilbert’s remains temporarily stopped. Last year, the Air Force reopened the search. And in November, his family got the news that additional remains were found and are being returned.

“So thankful, so grateful,” Gilbert’s widow, Ginger Gilbert-Ravella, said. “Grateful to the military, to the leaders. To the men and women who have served so diligently and faithfully and have risked their lives. And a promise was upheld, that no man would be left behind on the field of battle.”

Gilbert-Ravella said the Air Force told her the remains were initially found by sources in Iraq in September 2012. They were taken from Iraqi sources to the Iraqi government, which then passed them along to Jordan. The Jordanian government contacted the U.S. embassy, which began the process of returning the remains to Dover Air Force Base, Del.

“They were still following many leads, they didn’t want to compromise the search,” Gilbert-Ravella said.

Gilbert’s initial remains were buried Dec. 11, 2006, at Arlington. Following the crash, Gilbert-Ravella filled out paperwork that if any additional remains were found, they would be interred at the burial site.

Another ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 11, exactly seven years after the first burial.

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