Utah National Guard 2nd Lt. Scott B. Lundell, 35, was killed Saturday afternoon during a firefight in Afghanistan, Guard officials said Tuesday.
Lundell, who was from West Valley City, joined the Guard in 2004. He was deployed to Afghanistan last June with the 1st Corps Artillery, which uses small "embedded training teams" to help train and support the Afghan National Army.
Gen. Patrick Wilson, commander of the 1st Corps Artillery, returned recently from a visit to the unit in Afghanistan, and he described Lundell as an "upbeat, gung-ho soldier."
Lundell was a 1990 graduate of Granger High School, where he was student-body president his senior year. He also lettered in football at Granger. He later served a mission in the Philippines for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Terry Bawden, Lundell's LDS seminary teacher during high school, described Lundell as an outgoing young man who married his high school sweetheart.
"Even though he was very popular and a great athlete, he was friendly to everyone," Bawden said. "He was always kind to everyone he knew."
Former Granger High football coach Mike Fraser described Lundell as a "tenacious" football player and an outstanding young man.
"This is heartbreaking," Fraser said. "I'm sick about it, but I'm real proud of him. He was a very, very loving kid off the football field. He cared a lot about other people always willing to serve other people."
Lundell's unit in Afghanistan consists of about 140 soldiers, and more than 100 are from Utah.
"We know that what we do is dangerous and bears with it many costs and this is a tremendous cost," Wilson said about Lundell's death. "The troops face a multitude of concerns and issues."
Brig. Gen. Bruce C. Frandsen, assistant adjutant general for the Utah Guard, called Lundell's death a "tragedy" that strikes close to home.
Guard officials declined to release detailed information on how Lundell died or about his family, other than to say that he has a wife and children. The Department of Defense said Lundell died of injuries he sustained during an attack with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades while on patrol in the Oruzgan Province.
Family members had been notified by Tuesday but were not ready to comment on Lundell's death. Wilson was expected to meet with Lundell's immediate family Tuesday afternoon.
"Our hearts go out to the Lundell family," he said.
Lundell's body is on its way back to the United States, and funeral arrangements are pending.
Since 2003, one other Utah National Guard soldier has died while in Afghanistan. Staff Sgt. Alan L. Rogers, 49, of Kearns, died in September 2004.
Out of 509 coalition fatalities in Afghanistan since 2001, at least 350 of the dead were U.S. troops, according to the Web site www.icasualties.org.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who is commander in chief of the Utah Guard, expressed his sympathy to Lundell's family. "He gave the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for freedom," Huntsman said in a news release.
Huntsman is expected to visit Utah troops in the Middle East this week with governors from Oregon, New York and New Jersey, although his office has declined to confirm details of the trip.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski has said the itinerary would include a stop in Afghanistan. More than 1,000 Utah National Guard members are currently on active duty in nations including Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.
Huntsman traveled to the Middle East this past March to visit Utah troops, as part of a delegation organized by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. Their four-day visit included stops in Baghdad and Fallujah, in Iraq, as well as meetings with leaders in Kuwait and Jordan.
Contributing: Jennifer Toomer-Cook