New Castle News

November 12, 2013

Union Township honors fallen son

Debbie Wachter
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Yesterday’s prayers and Veterans Day remembrances in Union Township were for all veterans and soldiers.

But special recognition was given to fallen Army Staff Sgt. Edward Mills Jr., whose name was unveiled on a monument at the municipal building and on a stone near the flagpole at the high school.

Mills, a member of the 101st Airborne Ranger Pathfinders, was killed May 26, 2011, while on foot patrol in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan. He was on his third tour of duty in the Middle East.

Members of Mills’ still-mourning family — his mother, brothers, aunt, uncle and cousins — gathered at the war memorial outside the Union Township Municipal Building for the unveiling of a bronze plaque bearing the fallen soldier’s name.

The monument also displays the names of 18 Union Township men who died in action in World War II, two who died in Vietnam and one who died in Managua, Nicaragua.

Members of VFW Post 315 saluted and led a flag ceremony.

Prayers were offered by Bob Smith, chief chaplain of the Veterans Administration Butler Health Center.

“What an honor, what an honor,” Mills’ mother, Kathie Greenawalt, said as she sobbed while gazing at the monument.

At the high school, her son, Lucas Greenawalt — Edward Mills’ 16-year-old brother — attempted to speak about his brother and the hole his death had left in their lives. But his voice broke and he put down his head and cried.

His brother, Jarod Mills, 27, took over and spoke about his late brother’s endeavors.

The keynote speaker was Staff Sgt. Matt Claycomb of the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 107th Field Artillery, who encouraged the students and the public, “when you see a veteran, thank them. You need to pay it forward to that next generation. That’s how the cycle of life goes. That’s how we veterans look at it. These freedoms are because a veteran stood up and supported the Constitution of the United States.”

The Union High School band opened the program with a lively rendition of “This is My Country.”

Tributes to military branches were read by Noah Pollio, middle school student council president; Sydney Rondeau, middle school student council vice president; Tommy Thompson, high school student council vice president; and Christina Noble, council president.

Dr. Alfonso Angelucci explained that the stone, which is in place by the lit flagpole outside the high school, now bears a plaque with Mills’ name on it. The boulder was moved there after contractors hit it while digging a ditch in front of the elementary school, he said.

Teacher Rose Ann Fulena contacted her cousin, Vince Fulena, who donated the plaque for the stone in Mills’ memory.