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Marine Cpl. Michael R. Speer

Died April 9, 2004 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

24, of Davenport, Iowa; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed April 9 by hostile fire in Anbar province, Iraq.

Marine killed in Iraq remembered as family man

Associated Press

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — A Marine from Kingsport who was killed in Iraq planned to leave the service and spend more time with his new wife, according to friends and relatives attending his funeral.

Cpl. Michael Raymond Speer, 24, was on his second tour of duty in Iraq when his unit came under fire west of Baghdad on April 9.

Speer, based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., had lived in Kingsport the past couple of years. He married in August and planned to leave the Marines in January, start a family and buy a house.

At a memorial service Monday, his widow Eliza was given a flag and his Purple Heart commendation.

A Marine color guard in dress blues stood at attention as a firing squad fired three volleys of seven shots each — the traditional 21-gun salute. Speer was part of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

More than 100 people had followed the hearse from Kingsport where family, friends and fellow Marines gathered Monday morning for Speer’s memorial service.

Red and white flowers and American flags adorned the chapel. Photographs of Speer as a Marine and a husband flanked his casket.

Aaron Magnuson, Speer’s best friend, told the group what a wonderful storyteller his fellow Marine was.

“He had a way of telling them that made them come to life,” he said.

Magnuson said Speer was a strong man who didn’t fold in the face of adversity.

“He never showed weakness in front of his Marines and I think — no, I believe — it’s because he didn’t have any,” Magnuson said.

Speer was the first person from the area to be killed in this Iraq war, and the communities turned out to honor his sacrifice.

He was buried at the cemetery at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home. Residents of the home, veterans of the Vietnam War, Korea War and World War II, gripped the bars of the cemetery fence and stared through at the familiar rituals taking place inside.

Kansas native, killed in Iraq, leaves wife in Kingsport

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — A Kansas native who died in Iraq had yet to celebrate his first marriage anniversary.

Cpl. Michael Raymond Speer, 24, died Friday after his unit came under fire in the Al Anbar Province west of Baghdad. He had married Eliza Davenport Speer on Aug. 16, and she survives him in Kingsport.

Speer, who was born in Fort Scott, Kan., was based in Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and had lived in Kingsport for the past couple of years. He was part of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines, attached to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

He 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. Speer graduated from Uniontown in 1997.

“We got 22 flags hanging in our lunchroom commons area with the plaques underneath them for every alumni in the service,” said Uniontown High School Principal Tracy Smith. “Out of the 22, two of them are now draped in black.”

Speer had been stationed at Camp Lejeune since June 2001, Marine spokeswoman Gunnery Sgt. Kristine Scarber said Monday from the Pentagon.

Funeral arrangements for Speer are pending at Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home in Kingsport.

— Associated Press

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