The Sandbox

GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

REST IN PEACE |

November 29, 2006

REST IN PEACE
Name: Grunt MP
Posting date: 11/29/2006
Stationed in: Southern Afghanistan
Hometown: Western Massachusetts
Email: gruntmp31a@hotmail.com

Saturday night I got a phone call from my team chief. He was calling to see if we were okay. They were in a blackout down there (no calls out, no internet) because someone had been KIA (killed in action) and they didn't know who it was. Yesterday morning we heard that it was a USSF (Special Forces) that was KIA up near TK, one of the Forward Operating Bases up north in Oruzgan. I didn't think much of it because I hadn't worked with any of the teams from TK, so I didn't feel directly connected. Well, last night I found out that it wasn't an SF soldier that was killed, it was an ETT (Embedded Training Team). That changed the whole picture for me, because I know at least one ETT at each of the FOBs up in Oruzgan. I couldn't find out who it was through the channels that were open to me last night, but I was able to confirm that it was an ETT. A little uneasy, with a desire for morning to come so I could make some calls and shoot off some emails to get some info, I went to bed. 

I got up and started making phone calls. I didn't get ahold of anyone until a little after 8am. The person I talked to couldn't remember the soldier's name, but he thought he was a 2LT, he was from Utah and he was a big ol' boy. This last statement was the first jab in a series that in a very short time would end with a KO punch I already knew was coming when it hit. I kept making calls. Dex came into the internet cafe and sat down next to me, and I told him what I had heard.  He said he had gotten a call last night and been told it was a 2LT from Utah and he was 35. Two hard shots, a cross and a hook. Now I knew, goddammit I knew, but I didn't want to know.

My phone rang and I saw who it was. He was calling me back to let me know what I already knew. Before the bearer of the news said anything, I asked, "Hey Sir, was it 2LT Lundell, Scott Lundell?"

"Yeah."

"Thanks sir, I went to Officer Candidate School with him and I was with him up at DR. Thanks."

"I'm sorry."

"Thanks, sir. Bye." 

I closed out the windows on the computer and walked out of the cafe, trying to get up off the canvas. So what do you do when you find out you're now in another club, a club you knew one day you would become part of, but not a club you look forward to becoming to a part of -- the one of Combat Veterans who lose a personal friend in a firefight. At first I kind of walked in a shocked, saddened state. Then I called some people that I love and are close to me, because I just need to tell someone and talk, but once I get them on the phone I realize that what I need is to just be alone and cry. I pull up some pics off my external hard drive with Scott in them and watch the last video I made up, as Tycz and I go into Scott's room while he's on the computer and we have a witty little exchange. Then I stop the video and just cry and want to kick a hole in the sky and drag Scott's soul out of heaven or wherever he may be and put him back here on earth so he can go home to his wife and children. But I can't, I know I can't.

I remember the last conversation he and I had. It was the morning I left DR. We sat in his room and talked about how we both felt that the approaches being taken to Afghanistan and Iraq were wrong, lacked military might and resolve and were overly concerned with public/international image. We left that conversation open-ended, with the intent of picking it up again sometime in the future. It will remain open for eternity. Scott was one of the few people who was on the level with me when it came to my view of our nation's inability to properly conduct military actions, and the undue danger it puts the lives of US soldiers in. I've been trying through a couple different channels to find out, for my own peace of mind, what exactly happened. I have yet to get any details. What I do know is that he was wounded by small arms fire, it took some time to recover him and medevac him, and he ended up succumbing to his wounds while at TK, where they were working on him. What I also know is that he's gone and I will miss him. 

I'm up off the canvas. I've had a pretty good day, considering. Scott's been on my mind a lot, as would be expected. He had a lot of heart. He was built pretty similar to me, but on a 6'4" frame, so I am pretty sure that whatever wounds he suffered they knocked him out of the fight and he probably wasn't conscious from the time he got hit until the time he passed. I decided to connect with whoever I could from my OCS class, so I sent out an email to the addresses I had, to confirm the intended recipients were correct. I'm still getting confirmation from that email. Once I get a few more I'm going to let them know what happened to Scott. As far as I know he is the first soldier from my OCS class to be KIA. I  am still raw on some level. Writing this email has brought tears to my eyes, but the reality is I still have six months and some change left here, so my head is back in the game and I'm ready to roll out whenever we go next. 

Interestingly, even this series of unfortunate events has not led me to hate my enemies. I might have more of a desire to hunt, kill and destroy them then I did before, but I won't let myself begin to hate them. I fear that if I allow myself to hate them I wouldn't be far from beginning to hate all Afghans, and I am too intelligent and honorable to fall into that trap. But I will say that when the chance does arise to kill some of the fighters that are affiliates of the fighters that killed Scott, I'm going to engage and destroy as many as I can. Will it bring Scott back? No. But it will serve two purposes. The more of them I kill, the fewer of them there are shooting at me. And in my head, heart and soul, every one of them I drop is a message that for every one you take from me I will take ten or twenty or as many more of you as I can. It's about settling up. They took a brother from me. That doesn't and won't go unanswered. One thing is for sure though; I won't allow myself to get so wrapped up in settling up that I make tactically unsound decisions that will put me at any unneccessary risk. Given the chance, I will pick my fights wisely and at the time of my choosing, so I can maxmize the damage I inflict upon my enemy while minimizing the risk to my soldiers and myself. Well, I'm sorry that this has devolved into an angry rant, but that's part of it I guess...

Rest In Peace Scott Lundell
KIA 25NOV06 Tarin Kowt Disrtict,
Oruzgan Province, Afghanistan
A Brother In Arms, Who is Loved and Missed
The Debt Will Not Go Unpaid
I Love You, I hope it was painless.
"Follow Me"

Comments

i'm so sorry for your loss. i hope six months pass quickly and you're able to come home.

Small world. I am the author of the entry right below yours. I felt compelled to write you because I recently completed a year in Ramadi, Iraq, and am now the Battery Commander of 2LT Lundell's unit here in Utah (what's left of it after the ETT teams deployed). We support them on a daily basis, and we will continue to support their families until they return. I didn't get the chance to meet Scott. Nevertheless, I know exactly how you feel right now. I've been there. 2LT Lundell will be sorely missed and he will not be forgotten. Please know that his wife and kids are getting a tremendous amount of love and support during this difficult time. E-mail me if you like and we can talk in more detail.
Stay focused, and God Bless.

Words cant express how sorry i am for yours and 2LT Lundell's families loss.

You are right though do not hate all Afghans but make the enemy pay a bloody price for the loss of your friend.

I weep for you, for Scott, for his unit, and for his family. Peace be with all of you. May your heart remain Ready and Forward.

Thank you for sharing this.

I am so sorry for your loss. I know it may be ridiculous to say this but I hope you don't lose any more friends and can come home soon. Be safe, and thank you.

Grunt MP, you have every right to rant. And it sounds like you will come out of it all right. The deep peace of the earth to you. Be well.
Rest in Peace, Scott Lundell.

My Sympathy to you and yours. Please be safe.

When the opportunity for just retribution comes and you need a loader or an ammo carrier, give me a call.

God Bless and Keep You

I am so sorry in the loss of your friend. These are
trite but such heartfelt words. I believe he is in good Hands, but you, his other friends and his family are in my prayers. Take very special care of yourself in these coming days. God bless you and keep you.

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for putting a 'face' with one of the numbers that get reported on tv each night. Not only does a tragic loss like this affect family, but also friends. I hope you are able to keep Scott's memories alive. Stay safe.

I'm sorry for your loss. At the same time I can't forget the fact that you are part of an occupying and invading power in a foreign land. All those you want to kill to get revenge are defending their country, not invading another country to kill. There is a context to everything, and even in the US, a person may use deadly force to defend their home against an armed trespasser. Its justified in that context since the homeowner is not the aggressor -- just as the Afghanis are not the aggressors or invaders either.

Before I remark on the comment that stimulated me to make a comment on my own blog post, I would like to thank everyone who has extended kindness, both through their comments and the emails I have received in such a short period of time. Now I need to talk directly to Bobbi.
Although I empathize with your sense of compassion, I feel your compassion in this situation is misguided. It is impossible for me to forget that I am an occupier in this country, but to caveat on that I also do not forget the reason for our invasion of this land. The history of invading powers in Afghanistan is long and the reasons for the invasions are complex and varying. I read extensively on the history of Afghanistan, both recent and ancient, prior to coming here and I can tell you that this might be the first time in the history of this land that it was invaded due to an act of aggression carried out by a people/organization within its borders. I don't think you have a very good understanding of the people you claim are defending this land. Here in RC South, the majority of fighters are actually foreign fighters from Pakistan, and in the north where the number of foreign fighters is less, the money and influence backing the insurgency is foreign also. So your image of the indigenous underdog fighting the oppressive overlord invader is untrue in Afghanistan. I truly appreciate your post, and I thank you for your condolences, and I admire your courage in making your post. But I think you need to read more about both the history and events that have led us to where we are, here in Afghanistan. I implore any readers of this blog/comments who might feel the need to lash out at Bobbi, or any other posters whose views you might not agree with, to not do so. Angry rhetoric does nothing in a forum of open ideas. Once again, thank you to all of you for your kind words. Bobbi, I hope you don't feel as though I attacked you in this response. It was not my intention, and if it came off that way I apologize. I hope this message finds all that may read it happy and in good health. Be Well.

Thank you for your post. I live in Utah and am deeply saddened by the loss of Scott Lundell. It seems such a small world when I hear the news on TV of the death of one of our own Utahns and then read a post about it from a soldier in Afghanistan. Thank you. I too am sorry or your loss and ours.

I'm sorry to say this but get that sorrow shit out of your head and concentrate on what you are doing before we hear of another casulty, YOU!
When you get back to the states you can cry, kick, scream, or do whatever you must to deal with your friends death!
Stay FROSTY, ALERT and AWARE of your MISSION so YOU can go home to your friends, family and comfort the family of that valiant soldier that you knew.
I am a Vietnam Vet. and I know that war is HELL but as soon as you loose your focus, you are DEAD!
We citizens at home must demand from our government that when soldiers are put in harms way that there was ABSOLUTELY no other choice but military action.
REST in PEACE SCOTT LUNDELL.
God bless You grunt MP, Scott, Veronica and every other soldier that has been deployed in the name of piece all over the world for the United States of America.
Tony Venturo

It is getting almost numbing back here, the body counts that we get from Iraq. Not a lot really about you guys, who actually are there doing a job we all support. Back here, it gets confusing since so many are so strongly against the Iraq action. They are called cowards, cut and runners, and yet, I would bet that they all support the efforts and sacrifices of you boys and gals whereever you are. I do. But then I was a military brat and did 8 years back in Nam time. My views have changed a lot as I get older, but no matter how much I disagree with policy, my support, my prayers, my sadness is with you all the time. Please come home safely. We need you folks here also.

Stef, I'm glad you shared this here too. Thank you for telling me about this site: I enjoyed reading the other entries. Come home safe, Stef; and rest in peace, Scott.

I want to thank Grunt MP for his kind words and for sharing his personal experiences with Scott.

My husband and two children are neighbors and friends of the Lundell Family. When I say neighbors I don't mean across the street and down. We've fought off the press and media for the past week besides a couple of pictures the newspaper wanted of our cul de sac b/c we have flags every 4 ft all around to show our support of the family and our troops left fighting for our freedom.

We pretty much share our front yard to the boys playing soccer or their youngest daughter of only three and my daughter, three also, having a tea party in the front yard. The kids coming over and having a popsicle was an everyday thing during our hot summer. The oldest daughter would always come over and swing with us on the front porch and just look around. Seeing Scott was few and far between b/c of the training he was doing. I remember however the most adorable thing ever with he and his wife. Whenever they left somewhere, no matter whether the kids were with them or not, his wife would sit right next to Scott just like they were in high school. It was the most adorable and tender thing ever. I'll always remember Scott as the handsome tall man coming around the corner ....His wife's parents live just down the street from our cul de sac, and they would go there for dinner every Sunday.

Scott made it home today and arrangements are being made. There is a fund set up for the family and a couple places have donated to the family. They are the only house in the cul de sac without Christmas lights. A military mother here donated lights, and my husband will be putting them up tomorrow for the children. They already have their tree up inside the house and it looks beautiful. Although Scott is no longer physically with us, his spirit and strength will be within that household and family forever.

Please visit my URL if you'd like more info on possibly making a donation.

Thank you

~Bobbi Heyborne

Holy shit. I was with your OCS class, I'm in RC West now and am heading South. Scott was a wonderful man-you take good care of yourself and your men. He's watching us-I'll be seeing you soon.
-McCormick

I know I'm still reeling, I'm Scott's cousin, if you get a chance check out
http://jagman-tfphoenix.blogspot.com/2006/12/2lt-scott-lundells-memorial-service.html

it's a great recap of Scot's memorial service.

I was Scott's partner working as ETTs with the same ANA Infantry Company. I was on another part of the battlefield when Scott was killed. When I heard over the radio that LT Lundell was down, I flood of feelings poured over me. I was unable to do anything to change what had happened. The only thing I could do was step up into the huge vacancy that he left, take charge and carry on the mission. I cry inside everyday when I wake up, knowing that my children still have a father, but Scott's don't. I really miss you Scott.

Thanks for the moving tribute. Scott was the genuine article.

Biz

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