Remembering Scott Lundell:

Maj. Brent Baxter, Utah National Guard

Deployed in Afghanistan

 

Posted December 14, 2006

       

 

Maj. Brent Baxter, left, greets Utah's First Lady Mary Kay Huntsman as he departs for Camp Shelby, Miss., in June for deployment.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Maj. Brent Baxter, left, greets Utah's First Lady Mary Kay Huntsman as he departs for Camp Shelby, Miss., in June for deployment.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan On November 26 I stood on the tarmac of Kandahar Air Field. The temperature was in the 40’s and there was a slight wind. I was in the front rank with many Utah Army National Guard Soldiers in a formation that consisted of many of the 205th Embedded Training Team Soldiers. Across from me was a formation of Dutch, British, and Canadian Soldiers. All 400-plus Soldiers were at attention. To my right was a C-17 transport jet with the cargo doors open. We had all assembled for one purpose.

The first sergeant called the task force to “present arms.” The entire group of combined nation’s Soldiers snapped to and held a salute. A British Soldier began to play Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. Slowly, a color guard bearing the U.S. flag and Utah state flag passed in front of us followed by the flag-draped casket of 2nd Lt. Scott B. Lundell, carried by team members from Utah.

Following the casket was our commanding general and our RCAC commander with their respective senior noncommissioned officers. Closely behind them were commanding officers from each respective nation. Behind them was the Task Force Chaplain and then the bagpipes.

The ensemble of men carried the casket up the ramp of the C-17 and loaded it in the front center of the plane. The cargo doors of the plane closed. We were given “order arms.” All salutes dropped.

The rank of Utah Soldiers did a right-face, and we entered the C-17 from the left side of the aircraft to pay our last respects to our fallen brother. We took our place in the aircraft and Maj. Paul Waldron introduced Maj. Brent Anderson, who offered a final prayer before the remains left our control. Cameras snapped pictures of every move we made in the aircraft.

After Brent’s prayer the men that had carried the casket knelt in prayer around the casket and said their last goodbye to Scott. As they left one by one, each Soldier in that plane approached the casket, knelt and said a short prayer and paid their last respects.

As I approached the casket and knelt to say my goodbye, I said a prayer for the family he leaves behind. I then stood, saluted the casket and left the plane.

There were many tears shed that night by men who face fear each day. It is hard to let a fellow Soldier go in such sorrowful circumstances.

The next morning we had the memorial for Scott Lundell at the KAF chapel. It is unlike anything I have been to before.

I know you have seen it many times on the TV of the memorial of fallen Soldiers. They place the rifle with the stock in the air and place the helmet on the stock. At the base of the rifle they place his boots and hang his dog tags on the weapon. Below this setup they had a picture of Scott.

The ceremony began with Travis Larsen giving the opening prayer. He was followed by words from Brig. Gen. Pritt, Col. Petrucci and the Brigade chaplain. Then Mike Rhinehart gave the closing prayer.

Sgt. Maj. Deck then did what is known as a “roll call.” He stood at attention by the memorial and called the names of three Utah Soldiers in the room, to which they answered, “Here, Sergeant Major!” The fourth name called was “2LT Scott Lundell.” He called the name three times and received no response. He then reported to COL Petrucci that 2LT Scott Lundell is no longer with us. COL Petrucci returned with, “Strike his name from the roll.” After that they played “Taps.”

I had a hard time maintaining my composure. Then one by one we approached the memorial and knelt before it and said a silent prayer. Anything left at the memorial would be sent to the family. The chaplain left a Bible. Some left patches. I removed my 300th Military Intelligence Brigade patch and left it at the memorial as a symbol that we came from all parts of Utah, but we were one as a team. I sure wish I would have had my Book of Mormon. I would have left it too.

I stood and saluted and did an about-face and walked out of the chapel having a hard time maintaining my composure. I signed the book and visited with all the friends who were there. We all agreed we never want to do this again. The U.S. has lost at least three Soldiers in the last couple of weeks. I know it is not as bad as Iraq, but it is still too many.”

Maj. Brent Baxter is deployed with I Corps Artillery (Forward) in Afghanistan.

Return to Scott Lundell Memorial Page