WORLD : Libya Returns Body of U.S. Airman Shot Down in 1986 Bombing Raid

From Times services

The body of an Air Force flier whose F-111 fighter-bomber was shot down over the Mediterranean during the 1986 air raid on Libya was turned over to U.S. authorities today in a gesture ordered by Libyan leader Col. Moammar Kadafi.

Officials in Tripoli turned over the coffin, containing what they said was the body of Air Force Capt. Paul F. Lorence of San Francisco, to the Vatican envoy in Libya, who accompanied the remains to Rome. A Vatican spokesman said Libya first asked for help in returning the remains in December, before U.S. Navy jets shot down two Libyan MIGs on Jan. 4.

Lorence, 31, was navigator aboard one of 18 F-111s that flew from bases in England and bombed Tripoli and Benghazi. Lorence’s plane was hit by Libyan anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the sea. Three weeks after the bombing, Libya said his body had washed ashore. The body of the pilot was never found.