Photo by Ted Lutz
Amie Gullifer is holding a wooden plaque with a laser photo of the VanGiesen family. The foundation plans to prepare similar individualized plaques as memorials for fallen soldiers.
A new organization has been formed in Kane to honor U.S. soldiers killed while serving their country.
The Staff Sgt. Ken VanGiesen Memorial Fallen Soldier Tribute Foundation is named for the Kane native who was killed last July while deployed in Afghanistan with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.
Amie Gullifer, VanGiesen's only sister, is co-president of the new non-profit organization along with John Bernhard of Mt. Jewett. Other foundation officers include Fred Tarnaski, vice president, and Renee McKay, secretary.
Tom and Sue VanGiesen of Kane are the parents of the fallen soldier. Bernhard is the son of Sally and Ken Bernhard, former Mt. Jewett residents now living in Corry. Ken and Tom served together in the National Guard in Kane.
Gullifer said the purpose of the foundation is to "help the families of our fallen soldiers." She said the organization also is honoring the fallen soldiers with individualized plaques that contain laser photos.
Bernhard created several plaques to honor VanGiesen and will be preparing more for other fallen soldiers.
"We want to make sure our brave heroes will be remembered forever," Gullifer said. With the cooperation of the families of fallen soldiers, the foundation is obtaining photos and information for the specialized plaques, Gullifer said.
Some of the plaques will be displayed at public places where the fallen soldier has made an impact, she said. For example, 12x12-inch plaques for a soldier recently killed in Afghanistan will be displayed at the Harbor Creek Fire Hall near Erie and at Harbor Creek High School.
There is no charge to the families for the plaques, Gullifer said.