Husband, father, hero: Hundreds in Easton honor Airman killed in Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Kurt Bresswein
Hero is a word overused in modern society, said U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Keith Givens.

Givens, commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, was in Easton Jan. 8 to help say goodbye to one of his agents, Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub.

Taub, killed Dec. 21 while serving in Afghanistan, was remembered during a memorial service at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church as a loving husband, father, son and friend -- and as a hero.

"And I would ask you that the next time you hear that word being used, see if it measures up to the person that we honor here today," Givens told about 200 people gathered in the South Fourth and Ferry streets sanctuary.

Fellow members of the Air Force carried his remains through the church as "Amazing Grace" was sung by those who could control their tears enough to participate. After the service, his fellow airmen offered a 21-gun salute before taps sounded on Ferry Street, closed to traffic by Easton police.

Givens awarded Taub, posthumously, the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal.

Taub grew up outside Philadelphia, and graduated from Cheltenham High School. He leaves behind his wife, Christina (Paar) Taub, who is a 2006 graduate of Easton Area High School and whose family lives in Lower Saucon Township. She is raising their 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, and expecting their second child.

Taub turned 30 years old a little more than a month before his death.

He enlisted in the Air Force in December 2007, assigned first to a base in Japan, where he loaded missiles on to F-15s, and transferred three years later to Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, specializing in arming B-1 bombers, according to his commander for 18 months, Special Agent Christopher Joers.

"In short, Pete was responsible for ensuring the Air Force's fighter and bomber aircraft were properly loaded with munitions, making them capable of conducting combat missions, a big responsibility," Joers said.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub was killed Dec. 21 near Bagram Air Base, in the deadliest attack on American military personnel in Afghanistan since 2013.

With a bachelor's degree in cyber-security, Taub applied to work in law enforcement, in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and graduated in December 2013 as a credentialed special agent, according to Joers.

At Ellsworth, he developed a relationship with a confidential informant and uncovered a multistate marijuana-trafficking ring. Seven airmen were sentenced to a combined 64 months' confinement, and the probe led to an investigation into the California-based civilian supplier, Joers said.

"He loved investigating crime, catching criminals and finding the truth," Joers said. "But as great of an airman Pete was, he was an even better person."

Taub had a laugh that couldn't fail to put a smile on your face, Joers said. Taub's childhood friend, Jeff Gallo, said during the eulogy that Taub's own smile "could make an entire room light up.

"It was one of my most favorite things about him, and I'm so happy that God has allowed us to witness that infectious smile through his daughter, who inherited the exact same smile herself," Gallo said.

In Afghanistan, he worked to identify and neutralize threats posed by insurgents to Bagram Air Field and its personnel.

"He participated in more than 12 combat missions in hostile areas, while mitigating risks from improvised explosive devices, small arms fire and ambush attacks," read the description of his service for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

"During an ambush attack on his dismounted patrol that killed six airmen on Dec. 21, 2015, Agent Taub gave his life in protection of his fellow team members while returning to the safety of his armored vehicle," the description continued. "By his heroic actions and unselfish duty to the service of his country, Agent Taub has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."

Givens on Friday read the names of the other five Air Force members killed in the attack, by a suicide bomber on a motorcycle outside the defended perimeter of Bagram. They are Staff Sgt. Louis Michael M. Bonacasa, Staff Sgt. Michael A. Cinco, Technical Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm, Staff Sgt. Chester J. McBride Jr. and Major Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen.

"I have to tell you that Pete didn't go out on that mission on the 21st of December thinking he was bringing democracy to the world or even free elections to the country of Afghanistan," Givens said. "It was much simpler than that. It was much more personal than that.

"His job and his team's mission was to protect fellow American service members serving at Bagram. To put it another way, he and his team served so that others may live. ... He was determined that the loved ones of those American sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers would not be sharing a day like we share today.
"All the service members at Bagram now know his name and they share his sacrifice."

Taub stepped up to serve his country and support his family, knowing that would mean being away from his wife and daughter quite often, said Gallo, his friend.

"Christina, Penelope and his yet-to-be born second child are the proudest achievements of Pete's life," Gallo said. "And nothing could make him smile more than his family."

Joers, his former commander, recalled Taub's family as his priority and passion.

"To Pete's parents, thank you for raising such a lively, energetic and fun-loving man," Joers said. "To Christina and Penelope, thank you for sharing your husband and your daddy."

A account is set up in U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter W. Taub's name for anyone wishing to donate to his family.