Friday, April 20, 2007

Aaron M. Genevie dies of injuries from I.E.D.

A Pennsylvania soldier with local ties was killed this week when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Iraq.

Pfc. Aaron M. Genevie, 22, of Chambersburg and formerly a student at West Forest High School, Tionesta, died Monday. He was a scout for the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, in Fort Riley, Kan.

Genevie is the second former West Forest High School student to be killed in service in Iraq in a little more than a year. Lt. Col. Michael E. "Mack" McLaughlin, 44, of Mercer, a 1980 West Forest High School graduate, was killed by a suicide bomber Jan. 5, 2006. McLaughlin was the first West Forest alumnus to be killed in action while serving in the U.S. Army. McLaughlin also became the first Pennsylvania Army National Guard officer to be killed in action since World War II.

Genevie joined the Army in July 2005 and began serving with the 1st Infantry Division in November of that year.

Genevie moved to McConnellsburg his junior year from West Forest High School, according to published reports, but he returned to West Forest for part of his senior year. He graduated in 2003 from McConnellsburg High School.

Before that, Genevie and his family moved to the Tionesta area when he was in fifth or sixth grade, according to sources close to his family. The family later moved into Tionesta.

Genevie's family moved from Tionesta at the end of his junior year at West Forest High School, but he wanted to continue at West Forest, so he moved in with a classmate and his family in Tionesta.

Genevie eventually left West Forest in January of 2003.

While in Tionesta, Genevie had worked at the town's Subway restaurant and also at Hunter's Station Golf Club south of Tionesta.

Several people remembered Genevie on Friday for his impressive athletic ability.

Kevin Sprong, West Forest High School principal, served as the school's athletic director when Genevie attended classes there.

"We went above and beyond any student as far as athletic capability," Sprong said. "He was fast, he was agile and he was a step above the average."

Luke Alex, the school's math teacher, graduated from West Forest in 2001, but also remembered Genevie as a "naturally gifted" athlete, saying the fallen soldier played on the school's basketball and baseball teams.

"He was just a fun guy to be around," Alex said.

Another family friend also said that Genevie loved to golf in his spare time.

He is survived by his parents, Gerard and Patty Genevie of Chambersburg, as well as his older sister, Tiana, and his younger sister, Leslie, as well as nieces and nephews.

A MySpace page for Genevie has become an online memorial where friends have been posting messages to Genevie expressing their sorrow and thanking him for his service.

"Aaron, all I can say is 'thank you,' " read a post Friday from one of Genevie's MySpace friends. "You gave an ultimate sacrifice for something you so strongly believed in. ... I strongly believe that now you are protecting B-Troop from Heaven. Aaron, I love you so very much."

"Words can't do justice to how I'm feeling right now," another friend wrote. "When I found out last night I about fell off my chair. I'd rather have been punched in the gut. ... I know I just got to know you well over winter break, but I'll never forget the trip to Harrisburg or any of the other great times. You were a great friend, I'll never forget you man. I guess God needed a helluva soldier to guard the pearly gates."

Before the site transformed into a memorial, Genevie described himself in an online posting as someone who liked to read, take classes "to make myself smarter" and enjoyed doing the Army's physical training, known as PT, "because it's healthy."

Also on the site, Genevie wrote, "I'm one of those crazy people who actually DON'T regret joining the Army."

In a later posting, he wrote "It's the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag."

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