Flintridge Preparatory teachers remembered Scott Studenmund on Wednesday, a 2008 alumnus of the La Cañada school who died this week in southern Afghanistan's Zabul Province.
Studenmund was one of five servicemen killed Monday in what is being investigated by the military as an incident of "friendly fire." Details of the occurrence are still under review.
As news of the deaths spread, Flintridge Prep faculty and staff took a moment to remember the former football star and cross-country runner, the La Cañada Valley Sun reported.
Those who knew Studenmund during his time on the La Cañada campus recalled his tenacity and sense of humor.
"He made our defense go. He would fight through anything and would not let himself be defeated," recalled football coach and science teacher Glen Beattie. "This single-mindedness made him a really good football player, and it also reflected Scott's personality in other facets of his life."
In a 2013 issue of PrepTalk, the school's alumni magazine, Studenmund spoke about the school's football program, and said the sport "takes heart."
"You learn to dig down deep. Football accesses your inner core, and it ignites your warrior spirit. You learn that, if necessary, you have to act aggressively to get what you want," he was reported as saying.
Cross-country coach and history teacher Ingrid Herskind recalled meeting Studenmund as an eighth-grader who was interested in running. An atypical runner, due to his strong, solid frame, he often employed a sprinter's ferocity at the end of every race.
Herskind also remembered the student's love of history, in particular military history, and how he was always up for a hearty debate on serious issues.
"I'm sure he was a fine leader for his troop mates and served them with all of his humor and support," she said. "He will be missed dearly."
After graduating from Flintridge Prep, Studenmund played football for Pitzer College for a year before deciding to join the military, school officials said.
He spent two years training to serve in the Army's Special Forces unit, known as the Green Berets, and studied Arabic intensively for six months. In 2013, he completed a grueling seven-week combat diver qualification course at the Army's Special Forces Underwater Operations school in Key West, Fla.
Serving as a staff sergeant, Studenmund had been working as a sniper stationed in Clarksville, Tenn., before being deployed to Afghanistan in January.
He was scheduled to return home in August.
Studenmund leaves behind his father, Woody, chair of the economics department at Occidental College; his mother, Jaynie, former chief executive of eHarmony and Flintridge Prep board member, and a sister, Connell, a 2012 Flintridge Prep graduate currently enrolled in Dartmouth College. He is also survived by a stepbrother living in Seattle.
Calling him a "brave, virtuous patriot," Flintridge Preparatory Headmaster Peter Bachmann honored Studenmund's service and acknowledged his family's immense loss.
"When I think about Scott's service, I think of the Founding Fathers — a virtuous man must be prepared to risk his life, fortune and sacred honor for his country. This sentiment guided Scott," Bachmann said. "Please hold him fast in your memories, and hold his parents, Woody and Jaynie, and his sister, Connell '12, in your hearts."
In Pasadena, Studenmund's city of residence, Mayor Bill Bogaard has requested that flags throughout the city be flown at half-staff through Tuesday in honor of the fallen soldier.