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Caring ‘casualty officers’ serve grieving families

July 28, 2011

Photo by Ted Lutz – Sgt. 1st Class Rollin Shumaker (left) and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Crow (right) have been serving the families of Staff Sgt. Kenneth VanGiesen and Erin Sirianni of Kane since VanGiesen was killed July 18 while serving in Afghanistan with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

*This article is part of a special online edition*

KANE – It’s been a painful and agonizing 10-period for the families of Staff Sgt. Kenneth VanGiesen and Erin Sirianni of Kane.
The Pennsylvania Army National Guard has provided “casualty officers” to serve both the family of the soldier killed in Afghanistan July 18 and the family of his longtime girlfriend. VanGiesen, who is being laid to rest today at the Gibbs Hill Cemetery near Ludlow, lived together with Sirianni in their own house in Mill Creek Township near Erie.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Crow of Pittsburgh has been assigned to the VanGiesen family to assist in any way possible, now and into the future.
Sgt. 1st Class Rollin Shumaker of Seneca near Oil City has similar duties with Erin and her parents—Frank and Sherry Sirianni.
Both soldiers, who are full-time Guard employees in Pittsburgh, were assigned to the duty as “casualty officers.”
“No one ever wants to have to do this duty,” Shumaker said.
“It’s an honor to serve the families in this difficult time,” Crow said.
A retired Air Force master sergeant, Frank Sirianni said both “casualty officers” have been “very professional” in their intercessions with the grieving families. “The Guard couldn’t have picked two better guys for this duty.”
Erin Sirianni said Shumaker was “very nice and helpful” and shared information. “He wanted to make sure I knew what was going on,” she said. “If I need anything, he said he’d be here as fast as he could. If I said I needed a gallon of milk, he said he’d bring it.”
Tom and Sue VanGiesen, parents of the fallen soldier, also speak highly of their relationship with Crow.
“I told him I want to adopt him,” Sue said in expressing her high regard for Crow’s duty during the family’s darkest days.
Public visitation is from noon to 3 p.m. today at the Kane High School auditorium.

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