Searchers looking for a missing Iraq War veteran found human remains in the Bob Marshall Wilderness on Aug. 24 that may belong to Noah Pippin.
While authorities hadn’t confirmed the identity of the remains, Pippin’s parents released a statement saying there is a strong likelihood they belong to their son.
The remains, which were found in the Burnt Creek area, were taken to the state crime lab in Missoula. Coroner M.E. Nelson said it could be several days or weeks before the body could be positively identified.
Pippin was last seen on Sept. 15, 2010, near the Chinese Wall. One month earlier, he had quit his job with the Los Angeles Police Department, which he joined after his third tour in Iraq with the Marines. He spent time with his family in Michigan before telling them he was heading back to California to re-enlist in the military.
But instead, Pippin drove to Montana in a rental car and apparently headed into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. He reportedly was carrying a backpack, a GPS unit, a plastic jug and a .38-caliber pistol. A family who encountered him near the Chinese Wall later told authorities that they believed Pippin was ill-equipped for an extended wilderness trek.
Missing for nearly a year, a troop of Boy Scouts last summer found clothing that might have belonged to Pippin. A search party was organized, but no signs of Pippin were found.
This summer, members of Pippin’s family traveled from Traverse City, Mich., to Montana to continue the search. His parents had planned to talk to people in towns, roadside restaurants and hotels near the Bob Marshall Wilderness.
On Aug. 22, a Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s deputy led seven U.S. Border Patrol agents, five search and rescue officials and three volunteers into the Bob Marshall Wilderness to look for the missing veteran.
The group entered the Bob Marshall Wilderness at a trailhead near Augusta recently reopened after wildfires threatened the area. Fires continued to burn to the west and southwest, but the search party planned to skirt around them as they headed northwest toward the Chinese Wall on their seven-day mission.