Family's appeal over body of pilot

THE family of a Suffolk-based United States Air Force pilot who was killed during air strikes against Libya two decades ago have issued a heartfelt plea for the return of his body.

THE family of a Suffolk-based United States Air Force pilot who was killed during air strikes against Libya two decades ago have issued a heartfelt plea for the return of his body.

Capt Paul Lorence was one of two airmen from RAF Lakenheath to be killed when their F-111F Aardvark plane crashed in Tripoli, on April 15, 1986.

It was the only plane not to return from Operation El Dorado Canyon, launched by the US military in response to terrorist acts sponsored by the north African nation.

Although details of the men's deaths are still not clear, it is thought the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by the Libyans, who have since denied knowledge of the whereabouts of Capt Lorence's body.


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His stepbrother, Jeff Kruger, has now called on the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to intervene, and said the incident was still painful to his family, including the pilot's wife, Diana, and his son, Peter, who live in Norwich.

Speaking to BBC News online, Mr Kruger said: “I would like to appeal to Mr Gaddafi to look into this matter so our family can have closure.

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“It is my sincere hope that our family and the Gaddafi family can work together, apart from politics, to achieve this goal (of bringing the body back for burial).”

A special service was held at RAF Lakenheath to commemorate Capt Lorence and the second pilot to be killed in the air strikes - Maj Fernando Ribas-Dominicci - whose body was returned in 1989.

Capt Lorence's mother, Bernice Kruger, who travelled from California to attend the ceremony, said being back at the air base was “emotional”.

“I didn't think it would bother me as much as it did,” she said.

During the ceremony, which was also attended by current squadrons from the 48th Fighter Wing and veterans of the Libyan air campaign, Lakenheath officials rededicated an aircraft shelter in honour of the two pilots.

Retired Airforce Col Ronald Kurjanowicz , who helped plan the 1986 attack, during which 101 civilians were killed, said to halt operations for an afternoon to remember two pilots killed in action 20-years-ago showed the “depth of respect the unit holds for its members”.

“They never forget their warriors,” he said.

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