APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) Saturday, Appleton held a memorial service to remember the city’s 4th line of duty death, Mitch Lundgaard.
Jeremy Hansen, Appleton’s Fire Chief recalls, “Mitch was actually going to school to be an architect that was his calling, and then after September 11th, he saw the noble sacrifice of the 343 firefighters from the FNDY (Fire Department of New York). He changed his career path.”
And became an Appleton firefighter. Tragically on May 15, 2019, Mitch Lundgaard was killed in the line of duty when assisting a man, Ruben Houston, who had been revived from a drug overdose, opened fire.
Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford says, “It’s important as a community that we recognize the sacrifice that driver-engineer Lundgaard made for our community. It’s also important for us as a community not to take for granted the risks that our first responders make every single day.”
Hansen says, “I think for a lot of the people on the Appleton Fire Department. We didn’t have time to reflect on what occurred until after the service.”
From sun up to sundown family, friends, and firefighters will take shifts at Mitch Lundgaard’s gravesite.
“Every May 15th since the tragedy occurred we do a ‘sit-with-Mitch’ and it’s just to pay tribute to him and it’s just to make sure that he has a fellow firefighter brother or sister with him all day long,” Hansen says.
As Lundgaard’s memorial service somberly closes out Police Week, the Appleton Fire Department remembers Appleton Police Officer, Paul Christensen, injured in that shooting as well.
Hansen says, “Both police and fire are brothers and sisters. It doesn’t matter what uniform we wear. We operate together every single day. We respect each other and we sacrifice for each other. Mitch is a community hero. He laid his life on the line for 14 years. Every single day he came to work knowing that it could be his last. And he did that cause he cares about the community.”
Flags in tribute to Lundgaard -flew at all Appleton fire stations through sundown on Saturday.
A bystander, Brittany L. Schowalter, was also injured in the shooting.
Lundgaard is survived by his wife Lindsey and three sons.