U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant, Killed by Afghan Taliban, Returned Home

Arlene Wagner via AP
Arlene Wagner via AP

The remains of U.S. Air Force staff sergeant, who was among the six fallen heroes killed by a Taliban suicide bomber on a motorcycle, was returned to Northampton County’s Palmer Township Monday located in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania, home of his wife’s family.

The fallen warrior is survived by a 3-year-old daughter and his wife, who is expecting their second child.

State police and motorcyclists, including Patriot Guard Riders, Rolling Thunder, and Warriors’ Watch Riders, braved the frigid conditions to provide their tribute respect as they escorted the fallen hero’s body to Finegan Funeral Home in Northampton County’s Palmer Township from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.

“Services will begin with a viewing 9 to 11 a.m. Friday at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, 330 Ferry St. in Easton, the church of Taub’s family. The funeral service is 11 a.m., with the church’s Rev. Susan Ruggles presiding,” the Express-Times quotes Dave Williams, funeral director at the funeral home, as saying.

“A handful of motorcyclists from the Lehigh Valley left about dawn Monday to go to Dover Air Force Base to accompany to Palmer Township the cremation casket containing Taub’s remains,” reports the Express-Times. “Temperatures didn’t make it out of the 20s as the Patriot Guard Riders, Rolling Thunder and Warriors’ Watch Riders motorcycle detail accompanied the procession north on the Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension [Interstate 476) to Route 22.”

Local fire companies reportedly set up along the route to salute the fallen hero from Delaware to the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.

“Forks and Palmer Township fire companies raise the flag between their aerial trucks in honor of US Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter Taub,” adds the Express-Times.

Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub, 30, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of six U.S. airmen killed on Dec. 21 when a suicide bomber crashed a motorcycle packed with explosives into a joint patrol of NATO and Afghan forces near Helmand Province’s Bagram Air Base, the largest US military facility in Afghanistan.

“But you don’t think about that,” Nancy Wolf, who rode with her husband, Robert Wolf, joining the procession, told the Express-Times. “We’re doing this for a reason.”

“Just to honor one of our fallen heroes, Glenn Hoffert, of Lower Saucon Township, added about why he, too, joined the escort at the turnpike interchange. Hoffert and the Wolfs, of Hellertown, got involved through the Edward H. Ackerman American Legion Post 397 in Hellertown, where they are members,” adds the report.

A resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan claimed responsibility for the attack. The Afghan security forces failed to detect the explosives-laden motorcycle when the suicide bomber passed through security checkpoint before carrying out the attack, which has been deemed the deadliest attack on American military personnel serving in Afghanistan since 2013.

Staff Sgt. Taub and three of the other American troops killed—Maj. Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen, 36, of Plymouth, Minnesota; Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, 28, of Mercedes, Texas; and Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride, 30, of Statesboro, Georgia—were assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI). The other two deceased American airmen—Technical Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, 45, of Bronx, New York; and Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, 31, of Coram, New York—were assigned to the Security Forces Squadron at Stewart Air National Guard Base in New York. They were both laid to rest last week. Sgt. Lemm was a 15-year veteran of the NYPD.

A Facebook post by Brittany Cuciti, who is engaged to marry Taub’s wife’s brother, revealed that the staff sergeant was taken to the Finegan Funeral Home at 4080 William Penn Highway in Palmer Township, where he will be buried.

The Air Force staff sergeant married his high school sweetheart, 2006 Easton Area High School graduate Christina Taub. Her family resides in Northampton County’s Lower Saucon Township in the Lehigh Valley region.

“Easton Area grad mourns death of husband killed serving in Afghanistan,” notes the Express-Times. “As of late Sunday night, it was expected the procession would be at the Lehigh Valley turnpike interchange between 1 and 1:15 p.M [Eastern Time].”

Staff. Sgt. Taub served for eight years. He had recently re-enlisted and was saluted by local emergency personnel as he was taken to the funeral home.

Cuciti asked family and friends who want to view the procession to safely stand on bridges and display the American flag “to show his wife the respect we have for a hero who gave his life so we can enjoy the freedom we have.”

It was the deadliest attack on American military personnel serving in Afghanistan since 2013.