Three days after disappearing during flight training off the coast of Italy, a 32-year-old United States Air Force pilot has been found dead. The family of Capt. Lucas Gruenther says his body was found in the Adriatic Sea on Thursday afternoon.
"It is with great sadness that we announce that the body Capt. Lucas Gruenther was found in the Adriatic Sea this afternoon. 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 family said in a statement. “We will never fully recover from our loss, but take heart in the knowledge that during his all-too-short time in this world, he made a significant difference in the lives of all whom he met."
Gruenther took off from Aviano Air Base in northern Italy on Monday for a training exercise, but controllers lost contact with the F-16 around 2 p.m. ET. Debris from the fighter jet, including Gruenther’s helmet and drogue parachute, were found Tuesday.
Gruenther served in Afghanistan in 2011. His wife Cassy is weeks away from giving birth to their first child.
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