A Penn Stater Killed in Afghanistan

September 6, 2011 at 10:22 am 6 comments

Our Sept/Oct issue carries a story about four people whose lives were changed forever on Sept. 11, 2011: an alumna whose husband, also a Penn Stater, died in the World Trade Center attacks; an alumna who was working in the World Trade Center and managed to escape with her life; and the parents of Bill Cahir ’90, who enlisted in the military as a result of the attacks and later was killed in Afghanistan.

In a sidebar to that story, we listed all 10 Penn Staters who were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as those who died in the resulting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since then, my Penn State colleague Terri Buchignani has called my attention, sadly, to another Penn Stater who died in Afghanistan: John Kihm, a former student who was killed this past April 19 in Kandahar.

Kihm (pictured above) graduated from high school in 2009 and spent a semester at Penn State Abington before enlisting in the Army. At the time of his death, he was just 19 years old. I can’t imagine his family’s grief.

I thought you might be interested in seeing the entire list of Penn Staters (at least the ones we know of) who were killed in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Below that is the list of Penn Staters who died in the 9/11 attacks 10 years ago.

Killed in Action

Sgt. William Cahir ’90, U.S. Marine Corps. Killed in action, Afghanistan, on Aug. 13, 2009. He was 40.

Capt. Brian Faunce ’96, U.S.Army. Killed in Iraq, on Sept. 18, 2003. He was 28.

Pfc. John Kihm ’10, U.S. Army. Killed in Afghanistan, on Apr. 19, 2011. He was 19.

Chief Petty Officer Michael Koch ’97, U.S. Navy. Killed in Iraq, on Feb. 4, 2008. He was 29.

Lt. Michael Murphy ’98, U.S. Navy. Killed in Afghanistan, on June 28, 2005. He was 29.

Capt. Todd Siebert ’99, U.S. Marine Corps. Killed in Iraq, on Feb. 16, 2007. He was 34.

Killed in the Sept. 11 Attacks

Kermit Anderson ’65, insurance business analyst at Marsh USA, in 1 World Trade Center. He was 57.

Patrick Dwyer ’86, partner at Cantor Fitzgerald, in 1 World Trade Center. He was 37.

Michael Ferugio ’87, insurance broker at Swett & Crawford, in 2 World Trade Center. He was 37.

Scott Hazelcorn ’94, bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald, in 1 World Trade Center. He was 29.

Howard Kane ’83, comptroller at Windows on the World, in 1 World Trade Center. He was 40.

David Kovalcin ’83, ’85g, engineer at Raytheon, on American Airlines Flight 11. He was 42.

Michele Nelson ’95, benefits specialist at Cantor Fitzgerald, in 1 World Trade Center. She was 27.

Michael Pescherine ’91, ’94g, bond trader at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, 2 World Trade Center. He was 32.

Jean Roger ’99, flight attendant, on American Airlines Flight 11. She was 24.

David Suarez ’99, consultant at Deloitte Consulting, in 1 World Trade Center. He was 24.

We’ll have more Sept. 11-related coverage later this week, including reflections from former Penn State quarterback John Shaffer ’87, ’89g, who escaped the World Trade Center during the attacks.

Tina Hay, editor

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anonymous  |  September 7, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for this …important to keep these folks in our memories…

  • 2. Anonymous  |  September 10, 2011 at 10:25 pm

    WE ARE Remembering!

  • […] Griffith, whose funeral takes place today in Virginia Beach, becomes the seventh Penn Stater to die in Afghanistan or Iraq; the complete list is here. […]

  • 4. Erik Orient  |  December 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    From the pilot who flew Sam’s body to Kandahar….

    I carried a hero yesterday and was honored to do it, although I wish I never had to. The Marine had been killed in action.

    I was flying near one of the airports we operate near when I recieved a call on the radio that we would become a Hero Flight and needed to divert to pick him up. We landed and I knew that he would not be transferred to my aircraft for about 2 hours yet I could see there were already Marines waiting at the edge of the flightline. As I walked over I was hit by the fact that I knew several of them. It is amazing how small the Marine Corps is when you see people you know in places you do not expect. It was good to see them but we all wished it was under different circumstances.

    They gave me the paperwork for the Marine I would be carrying. I did not know him, but I was able to get a sense of who he was as I spoke with his friends and Marines he worked with. They said he was a solid guy, one who would not get rattled when situations became extremely stressful. They said his positve personality influenced everyone around him.

    They told me he has a wife and two children. His son turns six today. I can’t began to describe how bad it feels to know that this man has been killed yet his family is unaware and most likely planning for the next days celebration.

    We got the aircraft ready for the transfer of remains. The ambulance with the casket waited nearby. We could see people start to form up in the distance and my crew got into position at the tail of the aircraft. We were not facing the entire gathering as they marched over since we were at attention. Then they began to form ranks across from us and more were falling in behind us as well. There were around 400 people there to pay their respects and to say good bye to their friend. There was his immediate team, other Marines he worked with, and British and Afghan soldiers as well. After the chaplain said a prayer, an honor guard carried the casket through our ranks and onto the aircraft. We saluted as one as turned to face the casket as it passed by. The detail lowered the flag covered casket to the deck of our plane and then departed.

    My crew and I stood to the side as the men he worked with walked onto the aircraft to pay their last respects before he began his journey home. After they were done we started the aircraft and brought him back to Kandahar. There were more Marines on hand to honor him as we transferred the casket to mortuary affairs and then they departed.

    As we finished doing the paperwork for the flight it dawned on me that not only was his son’s birthday today but it is only 10 days until Christmas.

    He left this morning on an another aircraft and is probably arriving home around now.

    I can pray for his family and hope they know that he was shown the utmost respect as he begins the trip home. I pray that he is at peace. I pray that I never have to do that flight again.

    Maj Samuel M. Griffith, Killed in Action, Afghanistan, 14 Dec 2011

  • 5. Anonymous  |  September 11, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    WE ARE heartbroken, and grateful…

  • 6. Anonymous  |  September 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    Thank you. we will never forget the tragic that has happened. Once again, thank you for your service to keep the rest of us in a better, fortunate place.

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