Enduring Freedom
3 Gold Stars

Master Sergeant
Thomas D. Maholic


Killed in Action: June 24, 2006
Near Ghecko, Kandahar Province

Age: 38

Master Sergeant Thomas D. Maholic, a Special Forces team sergeant assigned to 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), died when he was fatally struck by enemy small arms fire during a cordon and search mission. Enlisting as an infantryman in 1991, his first assignment was with the Pennsylvania National Guard where he was an infantryman for five years. Transitioning to active duty and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Battalion, Fort Kobbe, Panama. In 1993, he volunteered to become a Special Forces soldier. Maholic graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 1995 and assigned to the 1st Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, as a medical sergeant.

Lt. Colonel
Richard Berrettini

RD 2, Eldred

Pennsylvania National Guard
1st Battalion / 112th Infantry

Died of Wounds: January 11, 2008
IED explosion in Khowst Province, Afghanistan on January 2, 2008

Age: 52

Lt Colonel Richard Berrettini was a Nurse Practitioner/Medic with the Guards Medical Detachment in Erie, PA. His tour of active duty on this deployment was scheduled to end in a couple of weeks. He was providing medical service to our troops and citizens of Afghanistan. On January 2, 2008 his unit was providing escort to a convoy in eastern Afghanistan when his humvee struck an IED, killing 2 immediately and severely wounding Berrettini and another soldier. Treated on scene and airlifted out of country through Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. In civilian life Berrettini was employed with the Port Allegany High School as a nurse.

Staff Sergeant
Kenneth R. VanGiesen

Kane, PA

131st Transportation Company,
213th Area Support Group,
Pennsylvania National Guard,
Williamstown, Pa

Died of Wounds: July 18, 2011
IED explosion
Ghazni Province, Afghanistan

Age: 30

Kenneth R. VanGiesen, 30, of Gorman Drive, Erie, formerly of Kane, died Monday, July 18, 2011 as the result of injuries sustained while serving in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan. Born August 3, 1980 in Kane, he was the son of Thomas A. and Susan J. Proashas VanGiesen.
A 1999 graduate of Kane Area High School, he was a three year letterman in football and played in the Don Raabe Big 30 Classic. Later that year he joined the Army National Guard as a Technical Mechanic. Ken served four tours in twelve years, having served in Germany, twice in Iraq and later in Afghanistan. He served 1400 mobilized days in overseas deployment, being one of only 16 Pennsylvania National Guardsmen serving that level of active duty. He attained the rank of Staff Sergeant.
He was a member of the American Legion and the Loyal Order of Moose, both in Millcreek, the American Legion Riders and various VFW posts. He also was a member of the Kane Fish & Game Club.
Surviving in addition to his parents of Kane are his grandfather, Rowland Proashas of Kane; his high school sweetheart Erin Sirianni with whom he lived; his sister Amie (Joe) Gullifer and their children Isaac and Hannah of Kane, his brother Matt (Heather) VanGiesen and their children Courtney and Carly of Oak Harbor, Wash., Erin's parents Frank and Sherry Sirianni of Kane, and his beloved dog and companion, Bandit. Several aunts, uncles and cousins also survive.

Afghanistan IED kills 3 Pa. guardsmen, wounds 5
The Associated Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Three Pennsylvania guardsmen were killed and five others wounded earlier this week by a roadside bomb that struck their convoy in Afghanistan, military officials said Wednesday. The Pennsylvania National Guard identified the slain soldiers as Sgt. Edward Koehler, 47, of Lebanon, Sgt. Brian Mowery, 49, of Halifax, and Staff Sgt. Kenneth VanGiesen, 30, of Kane. All three will be posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. "This tragic incident is a stark reminder of the dangers our troops face on a daily basis for the cause of freedom," Gov. Tom Corbett said in a statement. "We owe them our respect, our support and our gratitude." All three men were riding in the same vehicle when the improvised explosive device detonated near Bagram, officials said. The other soldiers wounded did not sustain life-threatening injuries. The deaths bring the total number of Pennsylvania National Guard members killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to 39, according to the Guard. "The impact of the tragic loss of our three soldiers is felt throughout the entire Pennsylvania National Guard," Pennsylvania's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, said in a statement. "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."
Koehler previously served in the Marines Corps from 1982-88 and joined the National Guard in 1997, military officials said. Koehler was a bugler during his time in the Marines and took pride in playing "Taps" at funerals for fallen service members, Craig said. "Unfortunately it is now our solemn duty to play 'Taps' for him," Craig said.
In a 2005 interview with The Kane Republican, VanGiesen said he was proud to join the National Guard, like his father before him. "If I had it to do over again, I still would do it," he told the newspaper. VanGiesen was living in Erie, where he was working with the National Guard, the newspaper reported. He had been deployed to Iraq twice and was assigned to the 131st Transportation Company, 213th Area Support Group for this mission because of his mechanical skills. According to the Guard, VanGiesen was on his fourth active-duty tour, having previously served in Germany from 2002 to 2003, in Iraq from 2005 to 2006 with the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 2009 with the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team. "Kenneth VanGiesen was an enthusiastic soldier who never shied away from the call to duty," Craig said. "During his 12 years in the National Guard, VanGiesen served more than four total years on active duty. His selfless dedication to serving our country will be sorely missed."
Mowery, whose family released a statement requesting privacy, was previously a member of the Marine Corps Reserves from 1979-85, then joined the National Guard in 2000. He previously served in Kosovo. "Brian Mowery exemplified what it means to be a noncommissioned officer and served as an example to the younger soldiers around him," Craig said. "He demonstrated leadership potential far above his rank and never hesitated to assume responsibility, no matter how big the challenge." Koehler's family released a statement thanking well-wishers for their support. "Continue to pray for all of our troops and their safety," the statement said. "Their daily sacrifices must not go unnoticed."