Mission Report: KIA SO2 Nicholas Spehar, US Navy, Chisago City
Tuesday, 16 Aug: From the time the riders arrived at the Air Force base to escort home Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nicholas Spehar; I knew this mission was going to be something different, something special. With Navy escort, the Air Force guard at the gate just waved us through. The Navy Petty Officer brought us to the road just outside the tarmac fence where the family would gather to await the plane carrying their fallen loved one. With the coach and family behind us we left the base. All we passed stood at attention and saluted. The street just inside the gate was lined with what looked like 50 to 70 Navy and Air Force personnel standing shoulder to shoulder saluting the procession as it passed. As we exited the freeway and rode the last 9 miles on Hwy 8, people in large and small groups lined the road. Waving flags or standing in silent respect with hands over hearts as the procession passed. Near a school a large group of small children held their flags with eyes opened wide as the procession by now had been joined by fire trucks and more squad cars. Goose bumps rose and tears swelled as we rode.
With only four and a half hours notice, MN Patriot Guard members had a flag line at the Funeral Home awaiting Nick Spehar’s arrival. (This mission will be remembered by its last minute time schedules and changes)
Thursday, 18 Aug: 130 MN Patriot Guard stood the flag line at the Visitation services for Nick. PGR Riders came from as far away as Willmar, Brainerd and St Cloud. This long afternoon and evening began around 2:15pm with the arrival of the coach carrying SO2 Spehar along with law enforcement and PGR escorts at St Bridget’s of Sweden Church. Early arrivals for staging had a flagline set up at the main entrance of the church and showed honors as Navy SEALS carried Nick into the church. The local fire dept had a large flag hanging from their ladder truck parked in the street alongside the church. Our flagline stretched from the back entrance of the church, around the side to the front entrance, out to the street (Hwy 8. Main St of the town) and along the sidewalk for almost a block. Family, guests and Navy SEALS walked the line thanking us for our presence. The MN PGR plaque and challenge coins were presented to the family along with our sincere condolences and gratefulness for their son and brother’s sacrifice and service.
I think the entire town came out to pay their respects to one of their own fallen residents as the church was full. There was also a lot of Navy presence at the visitation along with their top brass.
The family and the church were gracious enough to provide food for us and the military that were there during our long evening. We broke down the flagline around 8:15pm.
Friday, Aug 19: 116 MN Patriot Guard members gathered at the parking lot of the St Paul College to stage for the Funeral of SO2 Nicholas Spehar. We walked over to the Cathedral of St Paul in a single file line of flags. An awesome sight of support and respect for our fallen warrior. Our flagline extended down both sides of the long steps leading from the front doors of the cathedral to the street, down the sidewalk along the entire block and around the corner to a side entrance. Fire trucks from Chisago City and Lindstrom were there with a huge flag hanging from the ladder truck. Nick and family arrived with law enforcement, more fire trucks and Patriot Guard escort. Navy SEALS carried him up the stairs to his funeral service. Amongst the large crowd in attendance were our Governor and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
Along with Ramsey County Motor Patrol and squad cars, Patriot Guard escorts led Nick Spehar to his final resting place. Upon arrival at Ft Snelling National Cemetery we were met by one of the largest PGR flaglines I have seen. A large formation of sailors, Navy Honor Guard and Rifle Squad were there, along with Nick’s SEAL team.
Military honors were given but the most touching was the Trident Ceremony. As Nick’s SEAL Team came one by one, they tacked their Navy SEAL Trident Pin to the top of his wooden coffin as a final honor and farewell to their fallen brother. Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nicholas Spehar, a true American hero.
A Navy (two star) Rear Admiral came by and thanked us for being there but hoped we didn’t have to meet like this again. Amen!
I want to thank all of our Patriot Guard members that attended this mission. The flagline is what matters. To all who stood with dignity and honor, this day we, the MN Patriot Guard, gained the respect of a very special group - The US Navy SEALS.
Larry Myslicki “Slick”
Ride Captain Metro NE
MN Patriot Guard Rider