The Pennsylvania National Guard is mourning the loss of three of its members in Afghanistan.
47-year-old Sgt Edward Koehler of Lebanon, 49-year-old Sgt Brian Mowery of Halifax in Dauphin County and 30-year-old Staff Sgt Kenneth VanGiesen of Kane, McKean County were members of the 131st Transportation Company. They were killed and five other soldiers were hurt when a roadside bomb hit their convoy as they transported supplies in Afghanistan on Monday near Bagram. The unit has been deployed since January.
State officials say Sgt. Koehler graduated from Lebanon High School in 1982 and joined the Marine Corps. He served as a Marine until 1988, took a ten year break from military service, then enlisted in the Pennsylvania National Guard in 1997. He had been deployed to Kuwait and Iraq with the unit from 2003 to 2004.
Sgt. Mowery, a 1980 graduate of Central Dauphin High School, served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1979 to 1985. He joined the Army National Guard in 2000 and spent several months in Kosovo from 2003 to 2004 with the 111th Infantry Regiment.
Staff Sgt VanGiesen graduated from Kane Area High School in 1999 and enlisted that year in the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was on his fourth active-duty tour, having served in Germany and Iraq.
Governor Corbett says the tragic incident is a stark reminder of the dangers our troops face on a daily basis for the cause of freedom. The Governor says we owe them our respect, our support and our gratitude.
Major General Wesley Craig, Pennsylvania adjutant general, says “The impact of the tragic loss of our three soldiers is felt throughout the entire Pennsylvania National Guard.” Maj. Gen. Craig says “We will honor their service by caring for their families left behind, and by increasing our determination to accomplish the mission they set out to do.”