Last missing soldier in Iraq returned home to southeast Michigan

(WXYZ) - The family of the last unaccounted for Army soldier in Iraq can now bury their loved one after his remains were found and returned to metro Detroit.

Staff Sgt. Ahmed Altaie, an Iraqi-born American citizen from Ann Arbor, was a translator based in Baghdad. He disappeared in October of 2006 after he sneaked off of his base in the heavily secured Green Zone to visit his wife, whom he had met several years before his tour of duty.

Sgt. Altaie's family says he was kidnapped by gunmen and not seen again until a video showing him in captivity was released five months after his abduction. It wasn't until early Sunday morning that his relatives learned he had been killed.

"It's a relief knowing he's not being tortured – that's now been put to rest," said Linda Racey, Sgt. Altaie's first wife, who is speaking for his family. "That's the only good thing, the only sigh of relief at this point."

When he disappeared Sgt. Altaie was 41 years old. He would now be 46. The military is not saying how or when he died – or how they discovered his remains.

"He had a heart of gold. It's so hard to believe he was killed," Racey said.

Sgt. Altaie's family says his funeral will likely be this week.

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