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.
— 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
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
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
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