Anthony McElveen liked coming home to Little Falls, Minn., to share his stories about Iraq with students. Scott Modeen of New Hope was more reserved about his experiences.
But they both had the same passion: They were proud to be Marines and to serve their country.
Modeen, a 24-year-old lance corporal, joined the Marines after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was in his second tour of duty in Iraq.
"Scott was the kind of person who could make you laugh whenever you were around him," said a statement from his family. "After 9/11, he joined the Marines and was proud to be defending our
freedom. He was proud to be a Marine."
Randy Tabatt, who was McElveen's social studies teacher at Little Falls High School, said: "I'm just a teacher who was lucky enough to have him in class."
He described McElveen, 21, as a great young man.
"He was always very proud of the fact that they were doing good things [in the military]. He always wanted to make sure that ... everyone knew that they were doing more good than what the news
Modeen and McElveen, whose rank was unknown, were the 29th and 30th Minnesotans to die in the Mideast during the war in Iraq.
Sam Fedo of Forest Lake, Modeen's brother-in-law, said Scott was determined to join the Marines after Sept. 11. He chose the Marines over the other branches of the military because he said he wanted to be with the foremost group.
"In his own words, he said if he was gonna go in, he was gonna go in with the top set of forces," Fedo said. "He wanted to be the best."
Fedo said Modeen, a graduate of Robbinsdale Cooper High School, was a proud son and sibling of nine brothers and sisters and nephew of 26 aunts and uncles. He said Modeen's parents "were extremely proud of him" and "would speak with him any chance they could get."
Family members sent him care packages every week - that often included his favorite Snickers candy bars - and letters daily.
Fedo said Modeen didn't express any fear about returning to Iraq for his second tour of duty in July 2005. He had ended a seven-month tour in September 2004.
"He was ready to go back and be with his fellow Marines," Fedo said. "He didn't really talk [about any concerns]."
Fedo said Modeen's family was grieving Friday night and did not want to be contacted.
However, in a statement released through Fedo, Modeen's kin acknowledged his impact on their lives.
"We are truly blessed," it said. "We are proud to call him our son, our brother, and our friend. Our thoughts are with the friends and families of his fellow Marines who so bravely lost their lives
Tabatt said he learned of McElveen's death early Friday morning when McElveen's mother called him.
McElveen was a 2003 graduate of Little Falls High School, where he played hockey and was in the band.