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U.S. pilot's body found off coast of Italy

By CNN Staff
updated 3:05 PM EST, Thu January 31, 2013
The body of an Air Force Capt. Lucas Gruenther has been found off the coast of Italy, three days after he went missing.
The body of an Air Force Capt. Lucas Gruenther has been found off the coast of Italy, three days after he went missing.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: The body of the U.S. pilot has been found
  • The F-16 went went missing Monday over the Adriatic Sea
  • Debris from the jet was discovered Wednesday

(CNN) -- The body of an Air Force pilot has been found off the coast of Italy, three days after the F-16 he was flying went missing, his family announced Thursday.

Read more: U.S. jet missing off Italy; search for pilot under way

"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 statement said.

Controllers lost contact with the F-16 around 8 p.m. Monday (2 p.m. ET) while the jet was on a training flight, the U.S. Air Force reported.

Italian search teams found debris believed to be from the fighter jet Tuesday.

The aircraft was based at Aviano Air Base, a key NATO installation in northern Italy.

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