By AJ Gardner – Cougar News Staff Writer
To date, 5,378 American troops have given their lives, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Blue Star Mothers of Santa Clarita, 11 have been from the Santa Clarita Valley. March 1st, Stevenson Ranch lost one of their own, when U.S. Army Paratrooper, Ian T. D. Gelig, was killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The 2002 Hart High School graduate succumbed to wounds suffered during a routine patrol when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with a makeshift bomb.
After a private service, held Saturday, Gelig was honored during a funeral procession, which traveled from Blessed Kateri Catholic Church on Copperhill, through Stevenson Ranch and concluded at the San Fernando Mission Cemetery, in Mission Hills.
Several thousand Santa Clarita residents lined the sidewalks for much of the processional route, an estimated 2,000 of them in Stevenson Ranch alone, according to The Signal. Some saluted, some held homemade signs saying “Hero” and “Thank You For Your Service”; most waved American flags.
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and Veterans spanned the length of Stevenson Ranch Parkway, near Gelig’s neighborhood, as the community paid their respects to their hometown son.
Among those in the motorcade were members of the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department, L.A. County Fire Station 124, and the 82nd Airborne division. Also included, were about 70 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a Veteran’s motorcycle group that watches over funerals of fallen American service members.
Gelig, who was serving with the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., was posthumously promoted to the rank of Sergeant.