Saturday, June 09, 2007

James Lundin laid to rest

Three weeks before he once was to walk down the aisle, Army Spc. James Lundin of Bellport was buried Wednesday at Calverton National Cemetery, one week after being killed in Iraq.

Friends and family gathered around a blue and white tent for a military funeral held in a secluded section of the vast cemetery. Guests saluted, hugged and made the sign of the cross as they filed past Lundin's closed coffin after the 30-minute service.

Lundin, 20, and his wife, Kristy, 20, were married by proxy in January and planned to hold a formal wedding on June 30. The ceremony had been postponed to November when Lundin's tour was extended.

Heartbroken relatives Wednesday rued a life lost and a love story prematurely ended.

"I was looking forward to being a bridesmaid and looking at dresses," said Lundin's cousin, Jaclyn Russo of Patchogue.

Lundin was killed May 30 in Baghdad with two other soldiers when their Humvee was hit by a bomb. He was the 25th Long Islander killed in the Iraq war, which has claimed 3,503 American lives through Wednesday, according to Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

Lundin's military service was lauded in a eulogy delivered by Brig. Gen. William Phillips, commander of the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

"I know what kind of soldier he is," Phillips said. "He's simply the very best."

In handwritten statements, Lundin's parents expressed gratitude to neighbors and "emergency personnel."

"I'm overwhelmed at the honor shown to my son," Nicole Lundin said.

Richard Lundin said, "I'm stunned."

Lundin's body was flown to Long Island from Dover Air Force Base early yesterday morning. As the hearse approached the cemetery on Route 25, it passed under a half-dozen enormous American flags held aloft by trucks from volunteer fire departments.

American flags were given to Lundin's mother and wife. Lundin was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. "Amazing Grace" skirled as the coffin was taken away.

"We loved him," said Kristy Lundin's aunt and godmother, Maria Hand of Baiting Hollow.

Her godfather, Walter Hand, recalled Lundin's visit earlier in January, four months after he was deployed to Iraq. It was one of the few times Lundin met his future wife's extended family.

"We went out for dinner and it was like we knew him forever," Hand said. "He was a great kid."

From Newsday

Related Link:
James E. Lundin dies 'of wounds suffered when the vehicle he was in struck an improvised explosive device'