SPRINGFIELD – State law would be changed to allow the flying of flags at half-staff for Illinois military personnel killed while training on active duty under legislation sponsored by State Representative Keith Sommer (R-Morton). The bill passed the House Veterans Affairs committee on Thursday by a unanimous vote following testimony from Dale Nannen of Hopedale whose son was killed in a Marine Corps training accident last year.
“This legislation rights a wrong in existing state law which does not allow the Governor to issue an official notice directing the state and national flags be flown at half-staff when an Illinoisan is killed while training on active duty,” Sommer said. “This tribute is owed to all those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.”
The legislation was inspired by the funeral of Marine Corps Major Reid B. Nannen of Hopedale, a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan who was killed March 1, 2014, when his F/A-18C Hornet crashed at the Fallon Grange Training Complex in Nevada. At the time of his funeral, state law only allowed the Governor to direct flags to be flown at half-staff for members of the armed forces killed by hostile fire, not in training.
Maj. Nannen’s father, Dale Nannen, testified for the bill during its committee hearing Thursday. “There were numerous Marines from around the world who knew my son and came to his visitation,” Nannen told the committee. “Unbeknownst to us, flags were not lowered, and the Marines who came to visit with us made mention of that. They expressed concern for why the State of Illinois had not honored our son with the lowering of the flag.”
Nannen added that friends had told him that flags in Nevada, the site of the accident, had been lowered to half-staff the day after the crash.
Maj. Nannen was a 2000 graduate of Olympia High School. He captained the swim team for two years, was a drum line section leader and played on two state finalist baseball teams. He attended the University of Illinois, where he participated in the NROTC program and the Marching Illini band. He is survived by his parents and sisters, his wife Sarah and children Peter, Curtis, Betsy and Isla. XX
The legislation is House Bill 2932. It now goes to the full House for consideration.