Katie Couric's Notebook: Captain Speicher

Katie's on assignment.

On January 17, 1991, the world watched the beginning of a massive air strike against Baghdad. It's hard to forget those haunting green images of explosions in the sky.

A mystery began that day. A 33-year-old Navy pilot named Scott Speicher, who was flying his F-18 Hornet, disappeared in Northern Iraq. While Speicher was first considered killed in action, that status was changed to missing. No body - and no cockpit - were found.

For 18 years, his family and friends held onto hope that he was alive, shot down by hostile fire and held captive in an Iraqi prison.

Now, closure has finally come after an Iraqi citizen led Marines to a site where Speicher's body was buried in the sands of the desert. And those remains have been positively identified.

He was the first American to die in the first Gulf War.

With the mystery solved, Captain Speicher can finally come home, and his status can be changed - to fallen hero.

I'm Jim Axelrod, CBS News.

  • Jim Axelrod
    Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the chief investigative correspondent and senior national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for "CBS This Morning," the "CBS Evening News," "CBS Sunday Morning," and other CBS News broadcasts.