TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – More than 25 years after his death, Scott Speicher’s name has remained in the consciousness of Florida State University.
Speicher, a 1980 FSU graduate, became the United States’ first casualty of the Persian Gulf War when his fighter jet was shot down on Jan. 17, 1991.
When FSU opened its new tennis complex in 1993, the university named it after Speicher, who often played the sport as part of his fitness routine.
His legacy has since lived on in Tallahassee, and it will be honored once again on Saturday, when the Seminoles’ men’s and women’s tennis teams hold their second annual Military Appreciation Day before matches against the U.S. Naval Academy and The Citadel.
Saturday’s event carries extra significance, as members of Speicher’s family – including his widow JoAnne and daughter Meghan – will visit the facility that bears his name.
“It’s wonderful to know that we have all the support in the community, whether that be here in Jacksonville where we live, or at Florida State where he went to school or even within the tennis community,” said Meghan Wagner, Speicher’s 28-year-old daughter.
“It’s one of my goals to make sure his name is not forgotten. So to see that support from other people as well, it’s just such a great feeling. Even 25 years later, to see that is very cool. It’s awesome. We’re excited.”
Having the Speicher family on-hand will be the centerpiece of an event that will honor Florida State’s student-veterans and local active-duty service members, as well as the student-athletes and staffs from the visiting service academies.
FSU president John Thrasher, FSU’s Student Veterans Center director Billy Francis and tennis coaches Jennifer Hyde and Dwayne Hultquist will host a welcoming ceremony before the FSU Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) present’s the nation’s colors.
Seminole Sound will then perform the National Anthem.
“Scott Speicher is a Florida State hero,” Thrasher said. “He served our country with distinction and fought to protect the freedoms we all enjoy today.
“As we recognize him, we also demonstrate our appreciation to our servicemen and women and our commitment to becoming the most veteran-friendly public university in the country.”
Meghan Wagner (left) with her sisters Makenzie (pink) and Madison (blue) and brother Michael after Michael’s commissioning in 2013.
Wagner was just 3 years old when her father died.
She grew up in Jacksonville before attending the University of Florida and earning her degree in health education.
Following college, Wagner furthered her father’s legacy by teaming up with the Wounded Warrior Project, and serving on a team that puts together health and wellness programming for post-9/11 soldiers and their families.
“Although I’ve never actually put on the uniform, I still feel connected to that community,” Wagner said. “And part of what I do with the Wounded Warrior Project is giving back to those service members, helping them transition back to the civilian world.”
Joining Wagner on Saturday will be her mother, JoAnne and JoAnne’s husband Buddy Harris, a close friend of Speicher’s who served with him in the Navy.
Wagner’s brother, Michael Speicher, an FSU graduate, is currently serving with the Navy in Japan.
“Getting together around something like this, it’s so special,” Wagner said. “To be able to support one another, it’s definitely an emotional time, but in a good way because we’ll be remembering him, who he was, his legacy.
“And being able to tie that into something so positive – these students that are competing on behalf of FSU and the military – is even better.”