NEW CASTLE (KDKA) – A local soldier from Lawrence County was one of six killed in Afghanistan on Thursday.
According to the Department of Defense, Staff Sgt. Edward Mills, 29, of New Castle, died from wounds he suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. It happened in the Kandahar Province in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Mills was killed along with 27-year-old 1st Lt. John M. Runkle of West Salem, Ohio; 35-year-old Staff Sgt. Ergin V. Osman of Jacksonville, N.C.; 25-year-old Sgt. Thomas A. Bohall of Bel Aire, Kan.; 21-year-old Spc. Adam J. Patton of Port Orchard, Wash.; and 39-year-old Sgt. Louie A. Ramos Velazquez of Camuy, Puerto Rico.
Two men in uniform showed up at Mills’ family home in Union Township around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning with the news.
“They didn’t have to say anything. You knew; you knew it was just the worst-case scenario. The image you never wanted to see was here,” said Jarod Mills, Staff Sgt. Mills’ brother.
Jarod Mills describes his brother as a born leader who was always humble and always put others before himself.
“Anytime you talked to him, he was always talking about his guys, those were his guys. He had to watch over his guys,” said Mills. “As hard as it is for us and the family, if he had to go, this is the way he wanted to go, over in combat with his guys.”
Mills graduated from Union High School in 2000.
The last time the family was together was in February, just before he shipped out for his third tour of duty. Mills, an avid Steelers fan, was wearing the same uniform he wore when they won the Super Bowl in 2005 and 2008. He thought it would bring good luck.
“He actually joked and said he apologized to the Steelers and said maybe if he was over there, they would have won, but because he was home, they didn’t win,” Mills added.
As a lasting treasure and Christmas gift to their parents, Mills, his brothers and sister took a family portrait.
“I’m so glad we did that now, knowing that was the last Christmas and the last opportunity we had to do that,” he said.
As the family prepares for the funeral, they are thanking the community for the outpouring of love, support and prayers to help them cope with a terrible loss.