Lieutenant Justin Spiegel, also known to his squadron mates by the callsign "Poet," was a CH-47 Chinook Helicopter pilot assigned to the Jaeger Airlift Wing nicknamed "The Valkyries," which assisted with rapidly moving Jaegers over long distances to respond to Kaiju attacks. Flying chopper Valkyrie 21, Spiegel flew as part of airlift formations and, more frequently than others, as an overwatch to help Jaegers spot Kaiju beneath the ocean surface.
Spiegel was born May 4th, 1989, in Astoria, Oregon on the mouth of the Columbia River. He was something of a problem child, actively seeking out trouble to get into and swiping sweets regardless of where they were hidden. During High School, however, he shaped up once he realized his grades would affect the rest of his life. He became an excellent student and competent athlete, and took a summer job aboard a fishing boat that made his body strong. Though his grades would have allowed him to be accepted into an Ivy League college, Justin decided instead on enlisting with the Coast Guard, as his life had been saved the year before during a summer storm when his boat capsized by a Coast Guard patrol.
Coast Guard CareerEdit
Graduating from the United States Coast Guard Academy in 2012 with a commission as an Ensign, Spiegel was assigned to flight training on a HH-65 Dolphin search and rescue chopper as part of the Oregon Coast Guard. Upon entering active service, Spiegel's detachment was called in for several emergencies, including to evacuate the crew of a cargo ship which had strayed from the safe channels and began to roll over on a sandbar. Commended for managing the rescue in spite of an ocean storm, he was promoted to Lieutenant within the year.
In the early hours of August 10th, 2013, a tsunami alert was raised for the American west coast after a 7.1 earthquake hit San Francisco. Spiegel was one of many Coast Guardsmen placed on active watch to respond to the inevitable emergencies, but no one could have predicted what actually happened that day. When the monster later dubbed Trespasser emerged in San Francisco Bay, Spiegel's flight was scrambled along with almost every military unit on the Pacific coast to aid in the evacuation of civilians. His helicopter was directed to the top of a building downtown to evacuate a few wealthy individuals whom had been able to pull strings within the Coast Guard.
Though their extraction went well, the co-pilot spotted and pointed out another group of civilians on a nearby rooftop. Justin suggested rescuing them as well, but they were informed that Trespasser was headed in their direction and ordered to pull out at once. After a brief moment of hesitation, Spiegel disobeyed orders and came to the civilians' aid, crowding the rescue copter with another group that included women and children. Trespasser drew perilously close as the last ones were seated aboard, and Spiegel narrowly evaded a swipe of the Kaiju's massive crest which would have sent the helicopter into the ground. Ascending above the Kaiju's reach, Spiegel made for the drop-off point at Lake Tahoe, California. Trespasser would be destroyed following a five-day rampage, the UN resorting to a nuclear strike after traditional military forces failed to stop it.
Although furious that Spiegel had disobeyed a direct order, normally an offense which would result in a court-martial, his superiors couldn't press charges without bringing their own dishonesty to light. Instead, Spiegel was blacklisted for promotion and spent the next two years flying supply runs in Chinooks, which were double-rotor helicopters designed for heavy lifting. His lucky break, however, came in April of 2015, when the Kaiju Karloff was spotted making its way towards Vancouver, British Columbia. After his actions in the last attack, Spiegel's chopper was assigned to carry a high-ranking officer to observe from a safe distance: Pan-Pacific Defense Corp. and Jaeger Project liason Stacker Pentecost.
As they watched the first Jaeger-Kaiju battle take place, Pentecost received a radio transmission from Doctor Jasper Schoenfeld that one of his colleagues and a key member of the Jaeger Program's engineering team was trapped in a building near the fight. Pentecost immediately assumed command of the chopper and demanded that they divert from their planned flight path to make an extraction, to which Spiegel readily complied. Impressed by the pilot's skill maneuvering such a heavy aircraft during the rescue, Pentecost would make a request for his transfer to the Jaeger Airlift Wing in the PPDC which was soon granted.
Jaeger Airlift WingEdit
Justin's service in the PPDC's Jaeger Division began with little change from his former position in the Coast Guard, still ferrying personnel and equipment from one point to another while crews that'd been with the program longer were assigned to transporting Jaegers into battle. As more of the Mark-1 battle machines were built, however, the number of Jaeger-lifters that were needed increased, and Spiegel would find himself part of the squadron assigned to Coyote Tango at the Hong Kong Shatterdome with its Rangers Tamsin Sevier and Stacker Pentecost, with whom Spiegel was now good friends. Justin himself applied to the Jaeger Academy on recommendation from them both, but due to his lack of hand-to-hand combat skill was passed over in favor of more qualified candidates.
On May 15th, 2016, Coyote Tango was deployed on its first mission after the Kaiju Onibaba surfaced in Tokyo. Spiegel was given leadership of one out of the two flights which carried Coyote Tango across the Sea of Japan, and afterwards remained nearby at a safe distance to collect the Jaeger after the fight. However, during the battle between titans Onibaba landed a hit which jarred Sevier's connection to the Pons bridge, causing her to black out and forcing Pentecost to deal with the Kaiju on his own. Pentecost managed the feat, but it was revealed afterward that both pilots had developed terminal cancer as a result of exposure to their Jaeger's nuclear reactor. Spiegel was deeply saddened by his inability to help them, even more so when his friends were given a discharge, but was encouraged by Sevier to stay with the Jaeger Program and "keep fighting."
He remained at the Hong Kong Shatterdome as part of Horizon Brave's flight group until the launch of the American Mark-3 model Gipsy Danger in 2017, at which point Spiegel was transferred to the Anchorage, Alaska "Icebox" Shatterdome as the Gipsy's airlift squadron leader. There, he was promoted to Captain and reunited with Pentecost, whom had since become the Shatterdome's commanding officer. For three years, the Anchorage division was one of the most effective in the PPDC, thanks primarily to the smooth communication between the Icebox's command unit, support crews, and Jaeger pilots.
In that time, Spiegel would fly the Raleigh brothers to four of its six kills during the period, including Yamarashi in Los Angeles and Clawhook in San Diego. For one six-month period, Spiegel actually functioned as the Shatterdome's CO while Pentecost was away in Lima to help oversee reconstruction after a Kaiju attack broke through and damaged their base. He was also interviewed by young journalist Naomi Sokolov about the Jaeger Program during the wave of popularity that held through the early 2020s. After the Anchorage Incident in which Gipsy Danger was disabled, however, the program began to lose the political backing that kept it funded.