S.A. widow says Air Force left husband's body in Iraq

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by Brian New / KENS 5

kens5.com

Posted on February 7, 2012 at 11:24 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 8 at 10:56 AM

SAN ANTONIO -- A San Antonio military widow says her husband, killed more than five years ago, has been left behind in Iraq.

Ginger Gilbert Ravella is asking the US Military to not give up the search for the body of Air Force Maj. Troy Gilbert.

During a 2006 mission near Baghdad, Gilbert was credited with saving 20 Americans under fire when he destroyed a gun truck from his F-16 jet.

The Air Force pilot then turned around to attack another truck, but the tail of his plane hit the ground.

Maj. Gilbert was killed instantly.

"I got the knock at the front door just like you see in the movies," recalled Ginger Gilbert of the day she was informed about her husband’s death.

When US Forces reached his plane, a tiny bit of tissue was discovered in the cockpit.

That piece of tissue today sits in the ground at Arlington National Cemetery.

As for the rest of his body, insurgents got to it first.

Pictures of his body attached to his unopened parachute were posted on the Internet just hours after the crash.

A year later, on Sept. 11, 2007, insurgents released another video.

This time the video showed Maj. Gilbert's decomposed corpse still in his flight suit along with his military identification card.

In the propaganda video, Maj. Gilbert was referred to as an “American baby killer.”

"I had never seen that until last night to be honest,” said a tearful Ginger Gilbert.  “But it's time that we stand up and make sure that he is taken care of, so I think it was time to show the American people because it was a hate crime, a hate crime against the man that I loved."

For the past five years Ginger Gilbert has waited, hoping troops would return his body.

However, when the US Military pulled out of Iraq in December, Gilbert's family was told no one would be searching anymore.

Maj. Gilbert’s mother, Kaye Gilbert, said she was shocked and angry when told no one was looking.

"I felt just like 100 years of service this family has given to the Air Force, I feel like we have been tossed to the wind," she said.

The Gilberts were told their son is listed as “Killed In Action - Body Accounted For.”

The family wants the US military to change his status to “Unaccounted For” so that a search will continue.

"Someday my five kids are going to ask me, ‘Did you do everything, did the government do everything to bring Daddy home?’” Ginger Gilbert said. “I want to be able answer, 'I did and they did absolutely everything.'"

The San Antonio widow said she always knew the risks of being married to a fighter pilot and was never promised he would he would safely return home, but added she was promised no one would be left behind.

"Our military says no man or woman should be left behind," she said. "No troops shall be left behind, and I believe he has been.”

The Gilbert family is scheduled to meet with officials from the Department of Defense later this month.

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