|Staff Sgt. Gene Arden Vance Jr. was remembered last week during a special ceremony in Morgtantown.|
The Morgantown resident and southern West Virginia native was killed in action in Afghanistan May 18, 2002.
He was the first member of the West Virginia National Guard killed in combat since the Korean War.
“He was a citizen solider who knew the challenges, knew the dangers but because he knew what was important he responded to the muster,” said Adjutant General James Hoyer.
Morgantown Mayor issued a proclamation naming May 18 Gene Vance Jr. Day.
Vance was a familiar face to those attending the long-gone Appalachian Bike Race at Calhoun County Park.
"It is his uncommon valor that permits us our common routines" -
Governor Bob Wise
By Bob Weaver 2002
Thirty-eight-year old Sgt. Gene Vance was buried this week with full military honors,
the first West Virginia National Guardsmen to have died in combat since World War II.
Vance was killed in Afghanistan a week ago.
The biking enthusiast, who owned a bike shop in Morgantown, was a quiet and
modest person, who would have declined the attention that has been given him in
death, said his friends.
Vance was known to Calhoun County, participating and attending the Appalachian
Bike Classic. Classic coordinator Donnie Price said Vance was "congenial,
competitive and had a great passion for the sport. He was a real gentlemen."
Sgt. Gene Vance (Left)
His comrades from the Kenova-based 19th Special Forces Airborne stood at attention
beside his coffin at a memorial service held at the Mountaineer Ballroom on Sunday.
Gov. Bob Wise told 800 people "We grieve for this fallen soldier...It is his uncommon
valor that permits us our common routines."
Well-known among cycling circles, some of his acquaintances attended the
ceremony in cycling gear.
Donnie Price said Sgt. Vance will be recognized during the June 15-16 Appalachian
Bike Classic at Calhoun County Park.