Annville, PA – While attending the Pennsylvania Army National Guard’s Annual 28th Infantry Division Memorial Service in Boalsburg May 21, Governor Tom Wolf thanked the more than 100 Gold Star Family members in attendance. They represented 12 of the 39 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard killed in action during the global war on terror.
“There is no way we can ever repay the debt we owe you or the debt we owe them,” stated Governor Wolf. “But through ceremonies and services like this we can at least show our appreciation for what they have done and for what all these brave women and men do for us, often without expectation of reward or recognition.”
One set of Gold Star parents attending this year were Chuck and Diane Ruffner of Cherry Tree, Pa. They stopped to have their photo taken next to the 28th Infantry Division Global War on Terror Memorial, erected in 2016 in honor of the 42 division soldiers killed in action since 9-11. One of those soldiers is their son, Chief Warrant Officer Matthew Ruffner, killed in Afghanistan April 9, 2013.
“We’ve been coming to Boalsburg every year since we lost Matt,” Diane said.
Another of the names on the GWOT monument is that of Staff Sgt. Keith Bennett, killed in Iraq Dec. 11, 2005. His step-father, Tom Miller, and his mother, Carolyn Miller, of Drewmore, Pa. also stopped by the monument prior to the start of the official ceremony. The Millers have attended Boalsburg both as supportive parents and as those in the Gold Star ranks. They say the event is bittersweet for them now.
“The first time we were here we came to see him (Bennett) in the parade. That was 12 years ago,” Carolyn Miller said.
“It’s hard to come here now knowing it’s ‘in memory of’ instead of ‘in attendance with.’ But it’s good to be here with the other families,” said Tom Miller.
While addressing the Gold Star families, soldiers and friends of the division who gathered at the memorial, the governor added, “Words can never express the sacrifice that you have made as family members. We mourn with you. All of Pennsylvania mourns with you.”