ROME — The body of a U.S. Air Force pilot whose F-16 fighter jet went missing Monday during a nighttime training mission has been found in the Adriatic Sea.
The family of Capt. Lucas Gruenther said his body was found on Thursday afternoon.
Gruenther graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2003, said Meade Warthen, an academy spokesman.
Italian rescue teams were joined by F-16s in the search for Gruenther, and earlier in the week recovered debris believed to belong to his aircraft.
In a statement, the Gruenther family thanked "the many people who volunteered their time and resources to help bring Luc home."
Gruenther was with the 31st Fighter Wing, based at Aviano Air Base in Italy. The Air Force declined to give his age.
The Modesto (Calif.) Bee newspaper has reported that Gruenther is from Twain Harte, California.
On Wednesday, Gruenther's wife Cassy had expressed optimism that her husband would be found safely.
The Modesto Bee reported that search teams Tuesday recovered debris believed to be from the F-16 Fighting Falcon that Gruenther was flying on a training sortie.
Wednesday, family members told the Bee that searchers located his drogue parachute and helmet — evidence that he ejected from his jet. The family was encouraged because Gruenther likely carried survival gear, including a raft, food and water.
Cassy, who will deliver the couple's first child — a girl to be named Serene — in a few weeks, described her husband as a "self-reliant outdoorsman who would sleep every night under the stars if he could" and said he's in excellent physical shape.