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Fallen Marine laid to rest

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Marine Lance Cpl. Scott Modeen of New Hope will be laid to rest Monday. He was killed in the Iraq war last weekend. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps)
Funeral services are scheduled Monday for a Minnesota Marine who died in Iraq earlier this month. Lance Cpl. Scott Modeen was one of 10 Marines -- two from Minnesota -- who were killed in an explosion during a promotion ceremony in Fallujah.

St. Paul, Minn. — Scott Modeen, 24, was from New Hope. He'd only been in the Marines for two years, but he'd already earned several awards, including the Combat Action Ribbon and the National Defense Service Medal.

Modeen's family said in a statement that he was proud to be a Marine. Modeen was from a large family -- 10 brothers and sisters. He also had a lot of good friends. One of them is Chris Hayne, 25. They attended high school together in the Robbinsdale Area District. Hayne describes Modeen as a loyal friend.

"His devotion to his friends and to his family was like no other," said Hayne. "If he was needed in any situation, any situation at all, he was always the first to react, to be there, and try to help someone out, offer a shoulder to cry on, or any gesture he could to make someone smile. He was pretty good at making people smile."

Hayne said he and Modeen knew each other since they were 16. They graduated together from Highview Alternative School in 2000 and remained friends.

His devotion to his friends and to his family was like no other.
- Friend Chris Hayne

Before Modeen joined the Marines in 2003, Hayne recalls them regularly getting together on Sundays to watch the Vikings play, often at one of their favorite bars, the Eagle's Nest in Robbinsdale.

It was there, back in July, that Hayne and Modeen hung out the day before Modeen returned to Iraq for his second tour of duty. Hayne says on that day, the two had drinks and he toasted his friend.

"I had made this toast to him and said, 'To when you come back. And he counteracted that and said, 'No, here's to if I come back,'" Haynes recalled. "It was at that point that he set down the drink and he reached into his pocket and pulled out a $20 bill. And he ripped it carefully and clean right down the middle. He signed half of that bill and gave me the other half, and I signed it and wrote him a little letter on it. I told him not to read it until he got to the sands of the desert.

"He gave me the other half and he said, 'When I get back, and I promise I'm gonna come back, we're going to tape this back together and we're having shots with it right here.' And that's the last time that I'd seen him," Haynes said.

Modeen was one of 10 Marines killed on Dec. 1, including 21-year-old Anthony McElveen from Little Falls. It was the largest death toll suffered by U.S. soldiers in Iraq in a single incident since August.

Originally, the Defense Department said they'd been killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Fallujah. Later, the military said the the troops had been at a promotion ceremony, and may have triggered an explosive device when dispersing from the celebration.

When Hayne heard the news of Modeen's death, he said he was so upset that he left work. He said he, along with others who knew Modeen, went back to the place where he'd last seen his high school friend.

"I went down to the Eagle's Nest where we had all gathered for the day, and just a long night of crying and memories and everybody talking," said Haynes. "And one after another, face after face kept showing up into the bar. No matter how tough anybody was or is, before they left that bar there were tears coming out of their eyes. It was a tough day."

Monday will likely be another tough day, when Lance Cpl. Scott Modeen will be laid to rest. Modeen's funeral is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church in Robbinsdale. Burial will follow at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery.