Body Of Missing Air Force Pilot With Valley Ties Found

Capt. Lucas Gruenther/ Submitted Photo

Lucas Gruenther, the air force pilot with Valley ties who went missing near the coast of Italy earlier this week, has been found, his family confirmed.

Gruenther, a captain who had been working off of Aviano Air Base in Italy, was on a training mission over the Adriatic Sea when he ejected from his F-16 fighter jet. Wreckage and debris from the plane was recovered earlier this week.

Gruenther has cousins in Kingsburg and Tulare. He is also the grandson of the late Olympian Bob Mathias

His family issued a statement to the military publication, "Stars and Stripes," giving thanks for the outpouring of support they received since Gruenther went missing. "It is with great sadness that we announce that the body of 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. 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.They went on to say, "we would like to thank the people around the world for your messages and your prayers. We especially want to extend our deepest gratitude to the many people who volunteered their time and resources to help bring luc home."