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Mar. 5—COMSTOCK PARK — Family, friends, veterans, and community supporters gathered Sunday afternoon in Comstock Park to say goodbye and pay their respects to U.S. Marine Corps Captain Miguel Nava.

The celebration of life ceremony took place at Comstock Park High School, where Nava graduated in 2013.

Nava, of Traverse City, was killed in the line of duty, one of five U.S. Marines who went missing on Feb. 7 when their CH-53E “Super Stallion” helicopter crashed during a historic storm near San Diego, California.

Among those that spoke were former U.S. Representative Justin Amash, who wrote a letter of recommendation for Nava when he first applied for the United States Naval Academy. Also speaking were family members, his former varsity football coach, past teachers, a close friend a fellow Marine officer.

Outside, members of the veteran and first-responder community lined the entrance and parking lot with American flags, welcoming guests and family members.

Nava’s uncle, Bryan Marks said that he lived a full life, was full of ambition and not afraid to pursue his dreams.

“In life, it doesn’t matter what the start date, or the end date is on your tombstone, what matters is the dash in between. Miguel made the most of the dash,” Marks said.

Last Monday, Nava’s body was flown to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, and then brought to Traverse City, where a private ceremony was held Saturday.

A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017, Nava was commissioned in the Marine Corps that same year. He was promoted to the rank of captain in November 2021. His decorations include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Military officials reported that the helicopter vanished in stormy weather on Feb. 6 during the flight from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada to their base at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. The aircraft was discovered the next morning near the mountain community of Pine Valley.

The crash also claimed the lives of Lance Cpl. Donovan Davis, 21, of Olathe, Kansas, and Sgt. Alec Langen, 23, of Chandler, Ariz., both CH-53E helicopter crew chiefs; and Capt. Benjamin Moulton, 27, of Emmett, Idaho, and Capt. Jack Casey, 26, of Dover, N.H., both CH-53E helicopter pilots.

“We’re going to miss you, Miguel,” said Jimmy Vandenberg, Nava’s high school football coach and teacher.

“Just know that those of us down here are going to do our best to live up to your example.”

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