In December of 2015, six American soldiers died in Afghanistan when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle attacked a patrol near Bagram Airfield.
One of these soldiers was Air Force Staff Sgt. Peter Taub, a 30-year-old Jewish native of Wyncote. He left behind a 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, and a pregnant wife, Christina, who later gave birth to his second child, Petra. He was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and was out gathering information to make the area safe for other service members to come on and off the base when he was killed.
“Pete was very much liked by his friends and loved by his friends,” said Arlene Wagner, Taub’s mother. “His being killed over in Afghanistan has been a very big loss for all his family and friends. He was the kind of person that always had a smile on his face, would always help someone out. He joined the military because he was interested in the Air Force, interested in college education, which was a good way to get funds toward that — it’s not free for the military, in case anyone thinks it is.”
On March 23, President Donald Trump signed H.R. 2873 into law, designating the Wyncote post office — just a quarter of a mile from where Taub was raised — the Staff Sergeant Peter Taub Post Office Building. The office of Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), who introduced the legislation into the House of Representatives last year, said the hope is to have a ceremony to mark this change by the end of the summer.
“What I hope is for people in my community, when they walk by the post office or they go into the post office and they see the name, I hope that it’ll prompt them to stop and wonder who Peter was,” Boyle said. “Perhaps [it’ll prompt them] to Google his name and find out why the post office was named after him, learn a little bit about his life and his sacrifice for our country and see that someone who came from our community went on and did such a heroic thing.”
Boyle said he came up with the idea to rename the post office shortly after Taub, who served in the military for about nine years, died, and noticed the post office in the neighborhood Taub grew up in hadn’t been named after anyone.
Boyle said his office had a personal connection to Taub: One of his staff, Michele Lockman, was a family friend.
“It is a rare honor for someone to be given, and that it really only should be done when someone has gone well above and beyond to distinguish oneself,” Boyle said. “I thought that Peter obviously qualified.”
A little less than a year ago, Wagner heard from Boyle’s office that he planned on sponsoring this legislation.
“When you lose someone who’s in the military … and they’re such a young age, you always want them to be remembered,” Wagner said. “Pete was born and raised in Wyncote, so I was very touched that Brendan Boyle wanted to take that on as a bill to get passed and have the name changed there.”
Taub, a graduate of Cheltenham High School, had plans to join his mother and brother Jonathan in their family business, Bub and Pop’s, a sandwich shop in Washington, D.C., after he left the military. He enjoyed growing plants, and he and Jonathan would discuss what he could potentially grow for the shop.
Taub was a person who liked to live off the land. Wagner recalled one time she visited him when he was stationed in South Dakota; he made a rabbit stew with rabbit he hunted.
“Pete was probably interested in anything and everything that he could learn about and what he could do,” she said. “He learned about woodwork. He built things in his home. … He had an infectious smile.”
One of Wagner’s favorite stories about her son was from one of his friends, who told her that they met because when someone was bullying him in junior high, Taub stood up for him, even though they didn’t know each other previously.
“The loss of a child is the most horrific thing that any parent can ever experience,” Wagner said. “Within 13 months, I lost my son, then my sister, and a great-niece and then my mom, and nothing measures to the grief of losing a child. I wish that people in the world, on our planet, would just realize that every single human being is walking around having lost something or going through something, and I wish people would just be kinder to each other.”