The remains of Navy pilot Michael Scott Speicher returned to his Florida home on Thursday, 18 years after his FA-18 Hornet was shot down on the first night of the 1991 Gulf War.
Speicher's remains arrived at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station around 3 p.m. About ten minutes later his coffin was rolled off the plane draped with the U.S. flag. It was to remain at the All Saints Chapel on the base overnight.
Speicher's ex-wife and his children placed roses on his casket before it was loaded into a hearse. Several sailors stood at attention and lined the runway as the hearse passed by.
Buddy Harris, who was Speicher's best friend and who later married his widow, Joanne, accompanied the casket on the flight from Dover, Del., to Florida.
On Friday, Speicher's casket will first be taken to the Memorial Wall outside Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The hearse will drive by locations with ties to Speicher's life. He will be buried at Jacksonville Memory Gardens in a private ceremony.
Speicher was a native of the Kansas City area and moved to Florida when he was a teenager.