Appleton firefighter remembered as a friend and brother

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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - Hundreds of people lined up outside Appleton Alliance Church Monday afternoon for a public visitation for Mitch Lundgaard, followed by a memorial service with family and first responders.

Justin Wisneski gives a eulogy at the memorial service for Appleton firefighter Mitch Lundgaard (screenshot from video via Appleton Alliance Church)

The service was filled with people showing their love for Mitch Lundgaard and support for his family. Many who were close with him eulogized about fond memories they have and what they will remember most about him.

It was a very emotional service. During the eulogies we heard from a number of firefighters who were close with Lundgaard, including a best friend, all coping with a huge loss. Many people struggled to hold back tears.

"Mitch was a hell of a guy. He's the most caring, giving, honorable person you could ever ask to be a friend," long-time friend Justin Wisneski said.

Wisneski told the gathering Lundgaard always wanted to be an architect but things changed after 9/11.

"I want everybody to know that Mitch gave his life for others 18 years after those tragic events of 2001. The countless things he said, 'I will be there for others.' Well, buddy, we are all now here for you," Wisneski said.

Several Appleton firefighters spoke about losing a friend and brother.

Appleton firefighter Ryan Lee said, "Thousands of brothers and sisters, along with their all inspiring string of fire engines, ladder trucks, ambulances and squad cars from across the state, across the country are proof of how powerful the concept of brotherhood is."

"The man who took my little brother, you hurt me in a way that I did not know I could hurt. I hope to some day see you again. but the odds are I probably won't. To Mitch," Appleton firefighter Justin Brown said, toasting his fallen brother.

Others said it's the response from the community these past few days that's stood out.

"Yesterday we stopped by Fire House 1. We saw a little boy who wrote a letter and was trying to deliver it to Mitch. It hit me right there that Mitch touched everyone's heart."

At the service, the American flag that draped Lundgaard's casket was presented to the family, who will hold a private funeral Thursday.