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“Nick was an active young man, and if he said he was going to do something, he did it,” Ertl said. “I could see him as a NavySEAL and giving 110 percent to serve his country.”

Younger brother Luke Spehar told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that the family does not want to talk about Nick, the second of five children, until after his funeral. “We need time,” he said.

Craig Swanberg, 46, of Chisago City, a town of about 4,700, said the Spehar kids played football with his own children.

“The whole family is a down-to-earth group … nice, everyday, salt-of-the-earth people,” Swanberg said. “Nick was a big kid, a powerlifter, who was not as soft spoken as his brothers.”

Ertl said Spehar played football and baseball for Chisago Lakes, starred on the swimming team and was an academic letter winner.

“He gave 100 percent in high school,” Ertl said. “And he gave 100 percent to our country.”


David Carter

David Carter was a man of faith who was “somebody you could count on.”

Yolanda Levesque, a neighbor speaking for the pilot’s family, called Carter an outstanding father, “a true Christian” and a patriot.

“He was our American hero,” Levesque said, struggling to keep her composure while reading from a statement at a news conference Tuesday.

The 47-year-old Carter of the Denver suburb of Aurora was a chief warrant officer 4, a full-time Army National Guardsman and an instructor pilot. He was a skilled aviator with more than 700 hours of combat flying time, said Army Guard Col. Chris Petty.

Carter was one of two pilots flying the Chinook CH-47D on Saturday when it was apparently shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent.

He had a passion for training young aviators, Petty said, and leaves behind “much more than dozens” of new pilots he taught.

“There’s a big hole in our organization today,” Petty said.

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