Wednesday, November 14, 2018
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Little Falls mourns the death of a local soldier

Residents of the central Minnesota town of Little Falls are dealing with the death of one of their hometown sons. Cpl. Anthony McElveen, 21, was killed last Thursday by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Nine other Marines were killed in that attack, including Lance Cpl. Scott Modeen, 24, from New Hope.

Collegeville, Minn. — Anthony McElveen's high school social studies teacher, Randy Tabatt, saw the young Marine just last June. McElveen was attending his younger sister's graduation from Little Falls High School. Tabatt was handing out diplomas, so he was only able to talk briefly with his former student.

"He told me that he was heading out (to Iraq) very soon. I said 'Good luck.' And that was it," Tabatt said.

Tabatt remembers McElveen as a hardworking and dedicated student who loved to talk about politics. Tabatt says by his junior year, McElveen knew he wanted to be a Marine.

"He was a tremendously patriotic young man. He had a love for his country, very respectful, very polite. He wanted to do the right thing. All in allm a good civic-minded individual," Tabatt said.

McElveen vistited Tabatt's classroom last spring and talked with students. He told them he loved what he was doing in the U.S. Marine's 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Division, and was proud of his part in the Iraq war.

"He carried himself with such pride. He was a stoic individual wearing that uniform," said Tabatt. "When he came through the hallways people were in awe of him. When he came into the classroom and spoke the students were very respectful of what he had to say."

Another of McElveen's former teachers invited him into the classroom that day. His band instructor, Dwight Nelson, says McElveen looked every bit a Marine when he strode into the band room. McElveen spent four years playing the saxophone, and so Nelson's students remember him well.

"Many of these kids he went to school with, some of them three years. They remember him sitting in the saxophone section being a good high school student. The next minute he's off to war, and the next minute he's gone," Nelson said.

Nelson says it's McElveen's recent visit to Little Falls that's stuck in everyone's mind. His death is even more painful for everyone in town because, as Nelson says, he was just here.

"We all hear of the 2,100 some deaths (in Iraq), but it's always another person, another face, from another area. Now it really hits home when it's somebody who's walked the streets of our town," Nelson said.

McElveen's parents live in Little Falls. He was married just 10 months ago, to another Little Falls native, who is serving in the U.S. Navy.

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