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Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Kansas native killed in combat

April 13, 2004

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— A Kansas native who joined the Marines in Davenport has died in hostile fire in Iraq.

Cpl. Michael Speer, 24, was killed Friday in the Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad, the Department of Defense said.

Tracy Smith, principal of Uniontown High School in Uniontown, Kan., where Speer graduated in 1997, said Monday that he had spoken with Speer's father. Michael Speer was shot and died instantly, Smith said.

Speer was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He had moved in 2001 to Davenport, where he "walked in the office and wanted to join the Marine Corps," said Gunnery Sgt. Charles Rohm, the officer in charge for recruiting in eastern Iowa. He enlisted the same day, he said.

Speer, born in Fort Scott, Kan., was "a good boy -- quiet, but a leader," Smith said. "Sometimes you appreciate those quiet leaders a lot more than other types, and Mike fit that mold."

Speer is the second Uniontown graduate killed in the Mideast in two months. Army Reserve Spc. David E. Hall, 21, died Feb. 25 in Afghanistan. Hall grew up two blocks from Speer, Smith said.

"We got 22 flags hanging in our lunchroom commons area with the plaques underneath them for every alumni in the service," Smith said. "Out of the 22, two of them are now draped in black."

Speer joined the Marines on Jan. 16, 2001, in Davenport and had been stationed since June 7, 2001, at Camp Lejeune, Marine spokeswoman Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Scarber said Monday.

Scarber, who is at the Pentagon, said she could not release any information about Speer's family.

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