Remains of Fighter Pilot Come Home After 10 Years

On Nov. 27, 2006, Maj. Troy Gilbert died when his F-16 crashed outside of Taji, Iraq, as he conducted a low-altitude pass to save US service members cornered by enemy forces. On Monday, his remains arrived at Dover AFB, Del., according to a press release. “Troy fought like a tiger in battle that day,” said Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, who was present for the arrival of the remains and who was Gilbert’s commander in the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad AB, Iraq in 2006. Gilbert was killed upon impact, and al Qaeda insurgents recovered his body. Some remains were initially recovered by US forces, and additional remains were found in November 2013. On Aug. 28, an Iraqi tribal leader approached the US military with further evidence of Gilbert’s remains and claimed that his tribe was keeping the pilot’s body and flight gear. The evidence was authenticated at Dover on Sept. 7 by DNA testing, clearing the way for repatriation. Gilbert was survived by his wife, Ginger Gilbert Ravella, and five children. “I want to thank not only the brave Special Operations Forces that ultimately found Troy’s body but also each and every single airman, soldier, sailor, and marine who searched or supported the recovery mission during these last 10 years.” Gilbert was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Device on Nov. 27, 2006.