Army thanks Olathe for Spencer Duncan tributes

The U.S. Army this week officially thanked Olathe and its citizens for the patriotic homecoming provided for the body of Spencer Duncan.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Warrant Officer Michael Walsh of the Army Reserve in Olathe presented certificates of appreciation for patriot civilian services to many people and thanked far more.

“Thank you to everybody in the city of Olathe for supporting the United States Army and the Duncan family,” he said. “Thank you for making Olathe more than a community; thank you for making it a home.”

Duncan, 21, died Aug. 6 in Afghanistan. He was one of 30 Americans killed when a rocket-propelled grenade brought down a Chinook helicopter.

He grew up in Olathe and went to high school at Olathe South. Citizens greeted the return of his body Aug. 16 with a demonstration of love and grief.

There was a procession of police motorcycles, police cars and fire trucks and people stood five rows deep, waving flags and holding signs that said, “Spencer, we love you.”

A U.S. flag the size of a house was in front of the high school, two helicopters hovered overhead and 44 police officers rumbled past on motorcycles.

Walsh said Duncan came to the Army in 2008 and wanted to be an aviation mechanic, but later decided to be a door gunner. He went through special training for that job and volunteered to fight in Afghanistan.

“The door gunner was every dream Spencer had and he got to live that dream,” Walsh said. “He died doing his dream.”

Mayor Michael Copeland was one of many officials who quickly organized the welcome and on Tuesday received patriot appreciation certificates.

Sharing grief over the death of a hero brought the entire community together, he said. “The best of Olathe was there for all to see on August 16.”