BALTIMORE - In the three weeks since their son's helicopter crashed into the Tigris River, 1st Lt. Adam Mooney's parents clung to the hope he'd be found alive.
As difficult as the constant uncertainty was, Mooney's father said Monday night that it was far better than the reality. Mooney's remains were discovered Friday on an island in the river near Mosul, the Army said.
"We know now that we're never going to see him again or hear his voice or see all the things he did to entertain us around the house," B. Patrick Mooney, 62, said from his home in Cambridge, where Adam grew up. "We have his memories and that's it. Before, while we were waiting, we had hope. Waiting wasn't as painful as this."
Mooney's body was found by Mosul residents who alerted Army officials, The News Tribune of Tacoma, Wash., first reported. The News Tribune has an embedded reporter with the brigade to which Mooney was attached.
The report gave no further details, including whether those who found the body would receive rewards offered by the Army of up to $1,000 for information about Mooney's whereabouts.
Mooney's father also said the circumstances of his son's death, recovery and the helicopter crash were unclear. The Army was investigating the cause of the crash, and officials have said they don't believe hostile action was involved.
"It's a very confusing three hours," Mooney said of the time surrounding the crash. "Rumor is rampant about this. The facts may not match rumor at all."
Mooney and co-pilot Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Dorff, 32, both from the 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, based at Fort Drum, N.Y., crashed into the Tigris on Jan. 25.
The pilots were searching for Staff Sgt. Christopher Bunda, 29, who fell into the river when an Iraqi police boat in which he was riding ran out of gas, drifted into low-hanging wires and capsized.
The boat was dispatched to check two islands for insurgents who fired mortars on previous nights at the U.S. base in the Mosul presidential palace. At least two Iraqi police officers were also missing and presumed dead.
Dorff's body was found by military divers four days after the crash, and Bunda's remains were found last week.
Mooney, 28, grew up crabbing, kayaking and swimming in the Choptank River in Cambridge, on Maryland's Eastern Shore. Since October 2003, he had flown Kiowa helicopters in Iraq, providing armed security for ground forces near Mosul, which is 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Mooney and his wife, Katie, who is living with her parents in Conway, Ark., were married a year ago. Mooney's mother, Wyoma McCray, 60, lives in Martinsburg, W.Va.
Mooney's father said the family was devastated.
"Knowing his nature and the scrapes he has been in during his life and gotten out of, most of us expected him to get out of this, too," he said. "I believe his comrades in Iraq believed the same thing. That's why the positive outlook continued for twenty-some-odd days."
Mooney said he didn't know when his son's remains might arrive at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, but he expected there to be a public memorial service for his son in Cambridge.
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