Military investigators said Wednesday they located the remains of the second of two Marine Corps fighter pilots whose planes crashed in south-central Iraq earlier this week.
The remains of the first pilot, Maj. John C. Spahr, 42, of Cherry Hill, N.J., were found on Tuesday.
The second pilot’s identity was being withheld by the military until his family could be notified, according to a Central Command statement.
Both pilots were flying single-seat F/A-18 Hornet fighters about 30,000 feet over south-central Iraq when radio contact was lost on Monday evening. Officials said previously that investigators concluded the two planes probably collided in the air. They had launched from the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson.
Earlier Wednesday, officials disclosed that wreckage of both F/A-18 Hornets had been found, and they said the search for the second pilot was continuing.
The Central Command statement provided no details about the recovery of the second pilot, including whether the body was found near the fuselage wreckage. It reiterated earlier statements that there was no indication of hostile fire in the area at the time the planes went missing.
Spahr was executive officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 323, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego. He was a native of Cherry Hill, N.J., and a graduate of the University of Delaware.
The Pentagon on Wednesday night issued an official announcement of Spahr’s death. It said his plane “apparently crashed” but provided no details.
Spahr had been flying F/A-18s since 1993, according to his official biography. He attended the Navy’s “Top Gun” fighter weapons school in 1996, later was an instructor pilot there and was embarked aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation when the Iraq war began in March 2003.
Pentagon officials had said Tuesday that one F/A-18 fuselage had been found about 15 miles from Karbala in south-central Iraq and that the pilot was found strapped in his ejection seat some distance from the wreckage. They said then that investigators were still searching for the other plane.
An official said the fuselages were found at separate locations, but he did not know how far apart.