Military: Remains at Miss. base are Ky. guardsman

Published 3:25 am Sunday, June 15, 2008

The human remains found on a Mississippi National Guard base are a Kentucky guardsman who disappeared in 2007, two days before his unit left for Iraq, the military confirmed Friday.

Spc. Ryan K. Longnecker, 19, was training with his Kentucky National Guard unit at Camp Shelby in south Mississippi when he was reported missing Aug. 6, 2007.

Lt. Col. Doril Sanders, a base spokesman, said Longnecker’s remains were found June 3 in a secluded area of the 136,000-acre base south of Hattiesburg.

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Sanders said Longecker’s two military issued weapons, an assault rifle and a pistol, were also found. The military did not release a cause of death and would not say whether Longnecker had ammunition at the time of his disappearance.

Shirley Ann Longnecker, the soldier’s paternal grandmother, said Friday the military is still trying to determine how her grandson died and that his body has been sent for an autopsy.

The remains were found between two roads and “probably a few hundred yards from a building in a secluded area,” Forrest County Coroner Butch Benedict has said.

Longnecker, of Glasgow, Ky., was originally classified as absent without leave and his case was turned over to the U.S. Marshals Service when he was not located.

His remains were found by other soldiers training at the base, Sanders said. Camp Shelby was federally activated in 2004 and more than 50,000 Guard soldiers from across the country have trained there for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“This is a tragic conclusion to the disappearance of Spc. Longnecker,” Col. Earnie Shows, commander of Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, said in a statement. “Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies go out to the family and members of his unit, as this will be a difficult time for them.”

A message left at the home of Longnecker’s father was not immediately returned.

Brian Longnecker has said in the past that his son was not happy in his unit, Battery B, 2-138th Field Artillery of the Kentucky Guard. The soldier had requested a transfer to another unit, but it was denied, his father said.

Funeral arrangements were pending.