Burnsville soldier remembered for patriotism

Just about everyone at Burnsville High School knew what Todd Selge would do after graduation.

"You hear things about different seniors that are going to be graduating," said associate principal Bruce Morrissette. "It was very apparent that Todd had a desire to serve his country and felt a duty to do so."

Selge, 25, a staff sergeant, was killed Thursday along with another soldier, Spc. Jordan M. Shay, of Salisbury, Mass. The two were injured in a vehicle rollover, according to a release from Fort Lewis, Wash.

A message left by The Associated Press with Selge's parents was not returned, but his wife told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he was killed less than a month into his second deployment.

"He was definitely gung-ho about the military," said Dellona Selge, adding that her husband hoped to return to Minnesota after finishing his service in 2012. "He was going to get out. He wanted to finish up school and move back home and have a regular life."

The couple has two sons, ages 6 and 2.

Selge enlisted in the Army in 2004, two years after he graduated from high school. He was deployed to Iraq once before and received a Purple Heart.

Before and during his service, Selge made it clear he joined the Army to help others achieve freedom.

"We've heard that a lot of insurgents have moved here from Baghdad," he told the Associated Press in March 2007 while posted in Diyala province, northeast of the Iraqi capital. "The Iraqi army is supposed to be OK here, so we're coming to help them stand up."

The following month, he wrote an essay for an internal Army newsletter describing his experiences -- carrying out attacks on insurgents, getting to know other soldiers, and handing out candy to children.

"What does the average soldier think on a daily basis?" he wrote. "He wants to accomplish the mission. He wants to see the smiles of the Iraqi people endure. He is grateful for everything he has back home, and he wishes the very same freedom he is fighting for, upon the country of Iraq."

Though he also played football for three years, Selge stood out in high school due to his commitment to serving in the military one day, according to associate principal Bruce Morrissette.

"A lot of students come and go, but I do remember Todd," Morrissette said.

The team will hold a moment of silence at its game next Friday for him.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.