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American Pilot Shot Down Over Libya in May Has Been Released

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posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 11:57 AM
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Some of you may have caught this minor blip on the radar, the Libyan National Army under General Khalifa Haftar shot down an F-1 Mirage running sorties around Tripoli for the Government of National Accord (GNA). The pilot was interrogated, identified himself as Jimmy Reese (related to Kyle?), and stated his mission as a civilian contractor working for a private company. it turn out this man is an Air Force veteran, named Jamie Sponaugle, from Florida. In fact he was last based here in Tampa according to the WaPost. I am glad he is free and hopefully decides against signing another contract.


An American Air Force veteran who was accused of acting as a mercenary in Libya has been freed after a six-week detention, officials said Tuesday, in a murky episode that highlights the tangled nature of that country’s civil war. Jamie Sponaugle, a 31-year-old Florida man, was piloting an aircraft near the Libyan capital of Tripoli on May 7 when his plane went down, according to officials and individuals familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The Libyan National Army said it shot down the aircraft, which it said was a Mirage F1 combat jet piloted by a man The Washington Post is now identifying as Sponaugle, as it conducted bombing raids against LNA forces in the area. The Post withheld publication of Sponaugle’s detention at the request of U.S. officials who were working to secure his release.

Well the Post did not even cover the incident at all, but I did. Only found out his name last night, although many of us felt fairly certain he was American from the get go.

“We are always pleased to see Americans held captive overseas returned home to their friends and family,” Ambassador Robert O’Brien, President Trump’s envoy for hostage affairs, said in a phone interview. “We appreciate his captors’ decision to release him. We also thank the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its role in resolving this case.”

Officials said that Sponaugle was flown on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to meet with U.S. consular officials and undergo a medical and psychiatric examination. Neither the LNA nor the GNA provided an immediate comment.

According to an individual familiar with Sponaugle's case, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman took an interest in the captive American once Saudi officials learned he was being detained, and asked subordinate officials to get involved. The Saudi government did not pay the LNA for his release, the individual said.

Seriously, thank you Crown Prince for looking after our boy! See guys, sometimes international relations, well it can be tricky to navigate, but is absolutely critical to have allies even if our views may differ slightly.

Sponaugle, whose identity as an American has not been previously reported, became an enlisted airman in 2006 and worked as a mechanic, Air Force officials said. After leaving active duty in 2013, he served in the Florida Air National Guard until late 2016. His last job as an active-duty airman was airspace technician, and his last duty station was MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

He was not a pilot in the Air Force but earned a pilot’s license following his active duty service.

Even after his release, U.S. officials do not have a clear understanding of what Sponaugle was doing in Libya. If Sponaugle was piloting a Mirage, a French-made fighter jet, he is unlikely to have had the kind of combat training that military pilots typically undergo because he was not a pilot in the Air Force.

It’s not clear whether Sponaugle would have violated U.S. law by working for or fighting in Libya. Many countries, including the United States, employ foreign security contractors, who can play a variety of roles and are sometimes armed. The GNA and the LNA have repeatedly accused each other of using foreign fighters.

The LNA said following Sponaugle’s capture that he — at a moment when he was still being identified as Portuguese — was being treated humanely and in accordance with international law. But U.S. officials remained concerned about his welfare as they spent weeks in discussions with LNA officials. Sponaugle’s father declined to comment when reached at his home before his son’s release.


From what I have read, a private company is running a program out of Mitiga airport recruiting foreign pilots for support of GNA ops. I only recently discovered an Ecuadorian pilot was also shot out of the sky, I will add more information on that incident when I find it on the main thread covering the battle for Tripoli.

You can read the full post on his capture on my main thread.

originally posted by: worldstarcountry
An F1 Mirage was brought down south of Tripoli over a town called Al-Hirah. A PMC of unknown origin claims to be from Portugal with an alias of Jimmy Reese. Has a pretty cool tattoo on his back though. Are those Dragons fighting?? Quite fitting for the combat zone he is in.




Any ways, James, if you are reading this, let me buy you a beer! We can hang at Brewland's or World of Beer. Share your stories and I will tell you how awesome it is to settle down and have a family!




posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 12:35 PM
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Thanks for the follow up..

being a big fan of Supernatural the TV show I approve of his ink.



posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 06:26 PM
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Jimmy Reese was a baseball player in the early 20th century. Tom Cruise used this alias in one of the Jack Reacher movies. Dollars to donuts this is where this guy got the name and used it.



posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 07:10 PM
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a reply to: worldstarcountry

According to what's making the rounds, he was a maintainer in the Air Force and got his private pilot license on his own time.



posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 10:28 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58
Maybe he will decide to fly the helicopters for the Tampa PD, HCSO, or the Baylife Critical trauma transport helicopter instead of signing on for more ops in Libya. The universe only gives you a single pass like this incident; hopefully one would take the chance to go live a peaceful fulfilling life.

I wonder if he got his pilots license here in Tampa? I hear commercials all the time for a flight school on the radio. Windmenwanted or something like that. I would love to fly helicopters myself, but im not currently in a financial position to do so. I hear its like IVY league expensive to train to be a pilot when your not being assisted by the DOD for tuition.



posted on Jun, 26 2019 @ 11:21 PM
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originally posted by: schuyler
Jimmy Reese was a baseball player in the early 20th century. Tom Cruise used this alias in one of the Jack Reacher movies. Dollars to donuts this is where this guy got the name and used it.


Beat me to it I thought that named sounded familiar



posted on Jun, 27 2019 @ 12:02 PM
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Something about this story smells funny.

You don't obtain a private pilot license and then instantly move to jet-powered aircraft (let alone military fighter jets)--I don't care how close to jets a person may have worked as an enlisted member of the military.

Here's a guy who reportedly was not a pilot in the military...he separates, gets his pilot license, and only a few short years later is flying an F1?

Not happening.

There are plenty (plenty) of qualified ex-fighter jocks on the gray market willing to do a hired-gun job like this.



posted on Jun, 27 2019 @ 10:57 PM
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originally posted by: TheTruthRocks
Something about this story smells funny.

You don't obtain a private pilot license and then instantly move to jet-powered aircraft (let alone military fighter jets)--I don't care how close to jets a person may have worked as an enlisted member of the military.

Here's a guy who reportedly was not a pilot in the military...he separates, gets his pilot license, and only a few short years later is flying an F1?

Not happening.

There are plenty (plenty) of qualified ex-fighter jocks on the gray market willing to do a hired-gun job like this.


I thought the same, very odd.

especially why did he tell them he was Portuguese and give a fake name?

flying an F1 as a mercenary who had a small commercial licence?

nah, you were there for a reason send by someone with the power of the pen.



posted on Jun, 28 2019 @ 07:10 AM
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originally posted by: TheTruthRocks
Something about this story smells funny.

Alphabet agency.



posted on Jun, 28 2019 @ 07:33 AM
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a reply to: TheTruthRocks

We don't know how long it took him to move to the F1 though. It could have been years, it could have been months. The fact that he was most likely hit by a MANPADS says a lot about his experience level in them though.



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