Community devastated by loss of fighter pilot/UI alum

Published 03/13 2014 01:25PM

Updated 03/24 2014 02:56PM

Update: 11:36 pm, 3/21/14, Friday
HOPEDALE -- A hero and a man who chased his lifelong dream. That's how hundreds of people are remembering fallen Marine and Hopedale native, Reid Nannen. The 32-year old was killed in a fighter jet crash while training in Nevada earlier this month.

He leaves behind a wife and four children, one a baby girl he never even got to meet. He leaves behind family, friends and a legacy which will never be forgotten. Hundreds of people, hundreds of tears, hundreds of flags all to remember one man.

"It's very humbling and we're very, very grateful for everyone."

"Our Hopedale family, and our Olympia community. This is just the most generous thing anyone could give us is their presence."

Nannen hadn't been around his hometown for a decade, but it's clear, his community remembers him.

"This is his hometown and this is where he's from and people remember him. It's wonderful to know our service men and women are being honored this way."

This hero was chasing his dream.

"Not only did he follow his dream and make it come true, he's one of the top in his field. Not every pilot gets to go to Top Gun and he did. That was his dream."

A dream which took him from Captain to Major, scheduled for the promotion just days after he was killed in training in Nevada. The Marines gave Nannen a higher ranking posthumously. A top honor for a man taken from this world and this family far too soon.

"It's just devastating that when someone loves you and you love them back, they're gone forever and you can't see them again."

Now that Major Nannen is gone, those who loved him and knew him best are clinging to to what made him Reid.

"My favorite thing is that he was fun and he's always been there. He always made us laugh."

Clinging to to all he was, to help them continue to carry on and carry out his spirit.

"I'm proud of him because he was always himself. He was quirky and weird and funny and strange and inappropriate at times. Most of the time. But, he was wonderful, always."

Major Nannen will be buried at Camp Butler National Cemetery, in Springfield.
Original: 6:03 pm, 3/12/14, Wednesday
HOPEDALE -- A UI graduate was killed when his jet crashed in Nevada. Reid Nannen is from Hopedale. He was just ten days shy of graduating from the top-gun naval air school. Sophie Nielsen-Kolding talked with those who knew him best.

"That's who want to be guarding our country and our freedom. And, make no mistake, that's what he did."

Linda Thomas knew about a jet fighter crash in Nevada.

"We knew he was a fighter pilot and he flew a fighter jet and he was at top-gun training."

Soon after, the community of Hopedale learned their loved one, Marine Captain Reid Nannen, was the pilot found in the wreckage.

"The only thing Dale and Mary-Anne want is for Reid to be alive and we can't do that."

So now, Nannen's hometown mourns and the people who consider him family are remembering who he was.

"I grew up with Reid essentially my entire life. Absolutely a wonderful guy and clearly a wonderful father."

"Issac is Reid's age and they've been best buddies forever."

So close, Nannen is on the sibling page in a family wedding album. Nannen had built his own family too.

"When he was home, he was full-blown daddy. They were all over him."

Three doting children and a fourth, so young, her dad never got to meet her. To family, close friends, the community, he's a hero and a man who didn't get one last goodbye, see you later, I miss you.

"When something tragic like this happens, you always wish you could go back and communicate better, but you never think something like this would happen, so you don't plan on it."

"What would you tell him?"

"I'd tell the guy I loved him."

Nannen graduated from UI in 2004. Visitation and funeral services will be held next week, but final arrangements have not yet been made.

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