A Virginia Soldier Dies in Iraq Army Cpl. George "Tony" Lutz of Chesapeake, Va., was killed by a sniper's bullet in Iraq, less than a month after his 25th birthday. Earlier, his unit went to New Orleans to help with disaster relief.
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A Virginia Soldier Dies in Iraq

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A Virginia Soldier Dies in Iraq

A Virginia Soldier Dies in Iraq

A Virginia Soldier Dies in Iraq

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Army Cpl. George "Tony" Lutz of Chesapeake, Va., was killed by a sniper's bullet in Iraq, less than a month after his 25th birthday. Earlier, his unit went to New Orleans to help with disaster relief.

LIANE HANSEN, host:

Army Corporal George Anthony Lutz was buried Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. Lutz was killed in Iraq on December 29th, less than a month after his 25th birthday. He was standing in the turret of a Humvee in Fallujah when he was hit by a sniper's bullet. Lutz leaves behind a wife, a five-month-old daughter and a three-year-old son. Nancy Marshall-Genzer has more on Corporal Lutz's life and his death.

NANCY MARSHALL-GENZER reporting:

George Anthony Lutz II, better known as Tony, was just six weeks into his first deployment to Iraq. Before going overseas, his unit from Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, went to New Orleans to help with disaster relief after Hurricane Katrina. Lutz's mother, Patty Lutz, says her son helped rescue two elderly women who had been stranded for two weeks in a house marked as empty.

Ms. PATTY LUTZ: But Tony went in there and they did find them and he gave them his satellite phone because they didn't have any way to call their family. When the one lady called her family they were all together. They were planning her funeral.

MARSHALL-GENZER: Tony Lutz barely mentioned the incident. His mother had to learn the details from an Army chaplain, who also told her the sniper's bullet missed her son's armor and pierced his heart.

(Soundbite of background conversation)

MARSHALL-GENZER: Patty Lutz is surrounded by her family at her house in Chesapeake, Virginia. She and her husband are sitting on the back porch. George Anthony Lutz Sr. says his son rarely talked about the rough conditions in New Orleans and then Iraq. Tony Lutz did call his father often from Iraq. He always wanted to know how everyone else was doing. Father and son would frequently talk about the Washington Redskins. George Lutz Sr. says his son called him after Washington played the New York Giants on Christmas Eve. That was their last conversation.

Mr. GEORGE ANTHONY LUTZ Sr.: And sure enough, after the game was over, he called. He knew I'd be excited because it was a game they had to win with the Giants, and I just remember talking about the game and his excitement. And that was the last time I talked to him, and it was really special.

MARSHALL-GENZER: George Lutz says his son limited their long-distance conversations to football and other light subjects because he didn't want his family to worry. At one point, though, he did tell his father he wasn't afraid to die in Iraq because, if he did, he knew he would be with God. George Lutz says the whole family has a strong faith. Tony Lutz's wife, Tiffany, is also deeply religious. But she says she found her husband's attitude toward death difficult to fathom.

Mrs. TIFFANY LUTZ: He knew where he was going if he, you know, didn't come back from Iraq. So I was--it was hard for me because I don't--I didn't feel that way. I'm more afraid to die than he was. I just couldn't understand how he could feel that way, how he could be so brave and fearless. But he was.

MARSHALL-GENZER: The family tried to capture that brave and fearless character in a video about Tony Lutz for his memorial service. The video shows a mischievous boy with an impish smile, clearly not afraid of anything.

(Soundbite from memorial video)

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Happy birthday to you.

MARSHALL-GENZER: There are the typical birthday parties.

(Soundbite from memorial video, including song, "I Want To Leave a Legacy")

Ms. NICOLE NORDEMAN: (Singing) Don't want to feel that...

MARSHALL-GENZER: But the video ends in a cozy family scene with a teen-aged Lutz reading from the Bible at the kitchen table. The song, "I Want To Leave a Legacy" by Nicole Nordeman plays in the background.

(Soundbite from memorial video)

Mr. GEORGE ANTHONY LUTZ Jr.: ...in all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.

MARSHALL-GENZER: Tony Lutz's family says he leaves a legacy of bravery and faith that inspires them as they adjust to life without him. For NPR News, I'm Nancy Marshall Genzler.

(Soundbite from memorial video, including song, "I Want To Leave a Legacy")

Ms. NORDEMAN: (Singing) I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love? Did I point to you enough? To make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering, a child of mercy and grace who blessed your name unapologetically.

HANSEN: It's 18 minutes past the hour.

(Soundbite of music)

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