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Dad balanced his need to serve, love of family
For several years, Scott Lundell struggled with the feeling.
He didn't want anyone to believe he was evading his responsibilities as a husband and father.
Yet he felt driven to serve his country - to take his place next to other soldiers in the nation's wars. To serve, to sacrifice, to die if necessary.
Lundell was buried Saturday in a small cemetery in rural Utah County after a memorial service in West Valley City, where he lived with his wife and four young children before deploying to Afghanistan in June. He was killed Nov. 25 in a four-hour firefight in the southern Uruzgan Province, where he was serving as an adviser to Afghan troops.
His wife, Jeanine, said she noticed a change in her husband after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. "I began to sense a restlessness in him," she said.
As increasing numbers of U.S. troops were sent to fight in Afghanistan, and later in Iraq, Lundell confided to family members that he was battling intense guilt. Many Americans pronounced their support for the nation's military and its wars, but did nothing to substantiate those claims. He wanted to authenticate his convictions.
And so, in 2004, at the age of 32, Lundell signed on with the Utah National Guard. But though strongly convinced that what he was doing was right, he still worried about what others would say.
"He didn't want people to think he was shirking his responsibilities as a father to go off to play war," said Lundell's brother-in-law, Clint Lamb. "It was not easy for him to leave his wife and children behind.
"He did not die doing what he loved - he died doing what he felt passionately about."
So passionate, in fact, that the Special Forces officer accepted the first opportunity he found to deploy to Afghanistan with a Utah-based contingent of artillery guardsmen.
"It wasn't a command," Jeanine Lundell said. "He didn't have to go. He chose to go."
Still, Scott Lundell did not forget his obligations to his family. Those with whom the lieutenant served said he set an example for other soldiers in how to show respect and care for their families.
"He made all of us feel the need to love our own wives and care for them," said fellow Utah National Guard officer Chad Pledger.
So it was that on the day he died, Lundell found time to telephone home before heading off base with the Afghan troops he was advising.
"Do you know how much I love you?" he asked his wife.
"Yes," she told him, "I do."
Eighteen hours later, he was dead.
Though devastated by the loss, Jeanine Lundell, a devout Christian, told mourners at her husband's funeral that she thought of his death as the beginning of "the happily ever after" part of their story.
"I will miss him more than words can express," she said. But, she said, she knew they would be together again.
In the meantime, there are other ways the soldier will live on, family members and friends said.
As an example to fellow soldiers and citizens. As a man who touched the lives of many others. And in the lives of four children, ages 3 to 10.
The youngest, in particular, will bear a special testament to her father's legacy - for Scott Lundell named her after the cause for which he left his family, for which he fought and for which he ultimately died.
He called her Liberty.