US pilot's body recovered in Adriatic

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iol news pic F-16 Missing AP This 2003 photo released by the U.S. Air Force Academy shows Capt. Lucas Gruenther. The Italian Coast Guard recovered the F-16 fighter jet pilot's body in the Adriatic Sea. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force Academy)

Rome - The Italian Coast Guard on Thursday recovered the body of a U.S. F-16 fighter jet pilot whose plane crashed in the Adriatic Sea three days ago, his family said.

Captain Lucas Gruenther's plane went missing after it took off from Aviano Air Base on a training exercise on Monday night. Bad weather slowed the search, conducted at sea by the Italian Coast Guard and from above by the U.S. Air Force. Debris from the aircraft was recovered by a fishing boat on Tuesday.

Aviano is the base for the Air Force's 31st Fighter Wing. The Air Force said nothing about what might have caused the crash. A board of officers is due to investigate.

“A compassionate husband, a loving son, and a devoted brother; Luc leaves behind a family who loves him dearly and a legacy of achievement,” the pilot's family said in statement released by the U.S. Air Force. - Reuters

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