Evergreen parents remember daughter's life of service

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By Stephen Knapp

On the dining room table in the Evergreen home of Ed and Adele Scutellaro rests a large, framed memorial to their only daughter, Lynn.

It isn't a picture or photograph, but it paints an extraordinary portrait of a young woman who served her community and her country with distinction. Orderly rows of military decorations, carefully arranged and presented to Lynn's grieving parents by her comrades in arms at the Colorado Army National Guard 89th Troop Command, are silent testament to their daughters passion and patriotism and her fellow soldiers genuine esteem. Lynn's life of service ended abruptly, terribly, about 8:55 p.m. on July 7. She was 28.

An avid skier with a taste for adventure, Lynn left her childhood home in New Jersey for the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996. Ed and Adele soon followed their daughter west, settling in Evergreen Meadows.

Lynn studied sociology with an emphasis on criminal justice and joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, later transferring to Army ROTC.

"While in school she joined the Guard and was assigned to an engineering unit in Trinidad," Adele says. "She learned to drive the big trucks."

But if Lynn found driving supply trucks interesting, she had higher goals in mind.

"What she really wanted to do was fly, and she especially loved helicopters," Ed says. "She was always ready for any opportunity that came up, and she took it."

Graduating as a second lieutenant in 2002 — her brother, Rich, pinned the bars onto her uniform — Lynn left for flight school at Fort Rucker in Alabama. It was an adventure, and Lynn applied herself to it the same way she applied herself to every part of her life — with confidence and determination.

During the next two years, Lynn learned the chopper pilots craft and earned both a full lieutenant's rank and command of a versatile Black Hawk helicopter. She did high-altitude flight training in Eagle, Colo., helped build a road on the Mexican border south of San Diego, and participated in an exchange program with her military counterparts in the new nation of Slovenia.

"She even brought the Slovenians to the Evergreen Rodeo," Ed says. "The Guard liked her, and she liked being in the Guard. Her superiors always found work for her to do to keep her on full-time service."

If flying remained Lynn's first love, she had another talent that the military put to good use.

"She was a super organizer, and they put her in charge of the re-integration and readjustment program for soldiers coming back from Iraq," Adele explains. "She did everything, from booking locations to transportation to logistics. She organized retreats all over the state: Vail, Glenwood Springs, Breckenridge — and she took it very seriously."

In August, 2005, Scutellaro was in the process of applying to the Denver Police Department when her unit was mobilized for Iraq. After three months training at Fort Dix, she spent the next 12 flying in and out of hot zones from her base at Camp Anaconda, a critical military support facility about 50 miles north of Baghdad. In calls and e-mails home, Lynn described herself as busy and generally content.

"She liked having an important job to do, and she liked getting to fly so much," Adele recalls. "She got almost as much flight time during that one year as she got in all the years before put together."

Last November, Lynn returned to Colorado and moved into her parents Evergreen home to plan her next adventure. By spring, with the new captains rank and a solid job offer from the Guard, she decided to make a serious commitment to her uniform and purchase a townhouse in the new Stapleton development area. She also decided to spend the weekend after the Fourth of July at her parents Breckenridge condominium a chance to relax a bit before the exhausting task of moving into her new home.

On the evening of July 7, Lynn stopped at the Blue River Bistro, had supper and a glass of wine, according to a waitress, and headed for home. As she walked across Watson Street, Lynn was struck and killed by a Breckenridge trolley bus. To Ed and Adele, the stark fact of their daughters death seems inexplicable.

"She was a helicopter pilot who was highly trained to be aware of everything around her," Ed says. "I cant understand how something like that could happen."

"It was just an accident," says Adele. "A terrible accident, and thats all."

If nothing not even time will ever wholly remove the weight of grief the Scutellaros feel at their daughters death, there is still much in which they can take comfort. The love and support of Lynns fellow soldiers, for example, have been generously given and gratefully received.

"Several hundred people came to the funeral service at Our Lady of the Pines," Adele says, smiling gently. "The procession from the church went for three-quarters of a mile. At the cemetery here were soldiers standing at attention all along the road. We were amazed at how many people cared about her."

And, lest they ever start to forget the high place her daughter held among her companions, they can spend a moment reading Lynns too-brief story described in medals and ribbons honorably won a neatly framed tribute to a life well-lived.

"She accomplished a lot for someone so young," says Adele, touching a finger to the clean glass front. "It would have been nice to see how much she could have done."