By Ross Markman
The Olympic torch now has another Havre connection.
Havre native Brian Spangler, a 26-year-old Navy operations specialist and petty officer second class, participated in the Olympic torch relay in Spokane, Wash., on Thursday. Spangler is stationed at the Navy-Marine Reserve Center in Spokane.
Spangler joins two Rudyard brothers, Lane and Troy Boucher, and Havre cousins Jennifer Small and Cory Sangrey as Hi-Line natives who were selected to participate in the torch relay.
"It was cool. It was awesome, actually," Spangler said today. "My C.O. asked us a few of us if we wanted to do it. I volunteered, because it was basically a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
Spangler, a five-year Navy veteran, joined thousands of U.S. military personnel, representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard, in welcoming the torch to Spokane. Members of the Spokane fire and police departments were also in attendance.
The torch arrived at the Spokane International Airport from Anchorage at 4:30 p.m., when it began the trek to the Spokane Arena and the U.S. armed forces awaiting its arrival.
"Once the last runner brought (the torch) up on stage, we all got to touch it," Spangler said. "It's a total honor."
The Olympic flame, which departed Atlanta on Dec. 4, will reach its Salt Lake City destination on Feb. 8, signifying the official start of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Winter Games.