Posted: Aug 27, 2012 8:29 AM by Katy Harris - KAJ News
Updated: Aug 27, 2012 8:32 AM
The body of missing soldier Noah Pippin was flown out of the Bob Marshall Wilderness on Saturday.
Pippin's parents Mike and Rosalie have been staying in the Flathead Valley during the search for their son.
"We are grateful to have closure after two years. Our mystery is solved," Mike said.
The last time they saw their 30-year-old son was on August 25th, 2010, when he left their Michigan home to report back for duty with the California National Guard.
He was a three-time Iraq war veteran during his service with the Marine Corps, and was about to deploy overseas with the Guard.
It's still not known why Pippin headed to the Flathead Valley and eventually walked into the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
His family was left wondering for two years if Noah was alive, but on Friday afternoon, his family got the phone call they had been waiting for.
Noah's remains were found by search crews in the Burnt Creek area along the Chinese Wall, and his body was found just one day shy of two years since his parents last saw him.
Rosalie said, 'We have mixed feelings. We can now know what's happened to him, why we haven't heard from him in two years. It feels good to know that the reason he hasn't had contact with us for the last two years is because he wasn't here anymore."
Search crews, including one of Noah's brothers, left the Bench Mark Trailhead in Augusta on Wednesday and headed for the deep wilderness.
Pippin's parents wished the crew good luck before the search began; Rosalie said, "Different ones had a story of why they were really glad they were on the search for Noah. They were just wonderful. I just wanted to mother them all. They're heroes to me."
It took two days for the crew to hike into the 10 square mile area of Burnt and Pine Creek, and Mike and Rosalie say it's a miracle their son's remains were found on Friday, the actual first day of the search.
"It's like a needle in the middle of a haystack, what are the odds of them finding a body that had been there for two years and had two years worth of growth growing over," observed Rosalie.
Searchers found a firearm with matching serial numbers to Pippin's pistol, a Pippin family photo, a card, and clothing in the area.
"That made a pretty strong identification, and so they just have to wait for a little bit more to make that 100 percent," Rosalie said.
The Pippin family offered their thank Lewis & Clark and Flathead County Sheriff's departments, search crews, the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, Montana National Guard, volunteers, supporters, and everyone who came forward saying they saw Pippin in the wilderness two years ago.
The Montana National Guard flew Pippin's remains out of the site on Saturday and they will be taken to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula for confirmation of the identification, and hopefully ascertain the cause of death.