Local Soldier Killed In Afghanistan
UPDATED 3-3-2009 2:46 p.m.
An Army Paratrooper from Stevenson Ranch was killed in southern Afghanistan on Monday.
Spc. Ian Gelig, 25, died when his patrol unit was hit by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to information from the Department of Defense.
Gelig, an 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper, had been with the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team since August 2009.
After enlisting in 2006, Gelig was deployed to Kuwait for 15 months, where he served with the 126th Transportation Company.
"Gelig will always be with us," said Pvt. Antonio Santos, a paratrooper from Alpha Company. "From the day you arrived you touched everyone's heart. You made us laugh, you made us smile, and you kept us from falling apart."
"Gelig was a good friend and great person," said Spc. David Tryon, a fellow Paratrooper from Alpha Company. "He was always there for you when you needed something. He will be deeply missed by everyone in this unit, for a piece of us went with him."
According to Hart High Principal Collyn Nielsen, Gelig graduated for the school in 2002. He is survived by his parents, Tim and Delia Gelig, and his two sisters, Vanessa and Liana Gelig.
Debbie Duke, Co-President of Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons, a group which supports families of service members, says that they will be contacting the family to provide support.
Duke says Gelig's death marks the 11th death of a service member from the Santa Clarita area since the Global War on Terrorism started in 2002.
Update: Gelig was posthumously promoted to Sergeant.
The Global War on Terrorism, which includes Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, has claimed the lives of 4,074 service men and women.
Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons also presents a Gold Star banner to families within Santa Clarita who have lost a son or daughter while serving in the military. The Gold Star banner represents the honor and sacrifice made by the fallen hero.
According to Duke there are currently more than 700 men and women from the Santa Clarita Valley connected to the military. She says that this number only represents recent services and does not reflect the number of veterans living in the Santa Clarita.
Blue Star Mothers is a nationwide organization and has been helping families of service members since 1942.
A memorial in Gelig's honor will be held in Afghanistan.