Appleton firefighter honored 2 years after his tragic death
Mitchell Lundgaard, 36, was shot and killed in the line of duty helping a man who overdosed on drugs
APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - A firefighter killed in the line of duty two years ago was honored in-person Saturday as the pandemic forced the city of Appleton to hold virtual ceremonies last year.
Although Mitchell Lundgaard, 36, may be gone, his peers and family made sure he was not forgotten.
“This is noble work and it’s dangerous work, and we’re grateful that they do it,” Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford said.
Several events were held this year, some private, to commemorate his death. Lundgaard was posthumously promoted to driver-engineer
“I want them to know that as a community we value the work that they do, and we wouldn’t be the kind of place that we are without them,” Mayor Woodford said of the city’s emergency responders.
Firefighters stood watch at Lundgaard’s grave site at Riverside Cemetery from sun up to sun down on Saturday. He was the first firefighter killed in the line of duty since 1933, according to the Appleton Fire Department.
“We’re honoring Mitch by doing a safety stand down, so it’s a day of reflection for everybody that’s working today,” Fire Chief Jeremy Hansen said.
Lundgaard spent 14 years on the fire department before he was tragically shot on May 15 of 2019. He was assisting police in administering Narcan at the time to a 47-year-old Wausau man who overdosed at the Valley Transit Center.
When the man regained consciousness, he pulled out a gun fatally striking Lundgaard. Police engaged with the suspect killing him.
“For a lot of the people on the fire department, we didn’t even have time to reflect on what occurred until after the service and after the internment, because that’s when all the busyness ended and you actually can think about what you just did and what you just witnessed,” Chief Hansen said.
Family and friends laid wreaths on Lundgaard’s grave on Friday as he left behind a wife, three children, and a legacy of public service that the city hopes to continue honoring.
“The world of public safety is a noble cause because you are helping others. Every single day, everything that you do is to help somebody else,” Chief Hansen said.
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