Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin — September 2013 Shipment Honoree
Died August 8, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom
CASPER, Wyo. — Relatives of a Wyoming soldier who was killed in a suicide attack in Afghanistan remember him as a man who was intensely dedicated to the military and to his family.
The Defense Department said Thursday that 45-year-old Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, who grew up in Riverton, was killed Wednesday.
Dustin Griffin, the soldier’s nephew, told the Casper Star-Tribune he would never forget the time his uncle took him to Fort Carson in Colorado when he was 10 and let him sit in a military tank.
“He was definitely 100 percent Army,” Dustin Griffin said. “He was all about the Army. … He lived it.”
Meanwhile, Shawn Griffin described his brother — a 24-year Army veteran and father of two — as someone who loved his family even more than the military, adding that Kevin Griffin was a “very competitive, fun-loving, real adventurous-type kid” growing up.
Kevin Griffin competed on the Riverton High School wrestling team and won a state championship before attending Northwest Community College in Powell. He transferred to the University of Wyoming after two years, joined the military and continued to wrestle for the Army.
During his Army career, he served three tours in Iraq and had been deployed to Kuwait and the Balkans. Griffin was on a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan when he was killed.
“He truly believed in what he was doing, and that’s the one solace that we kind of get out of this,” Shawn Griffin said. “He was where he wanted to be.”
Wednesday’s attack also killed Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, 35, of West Point, N.Y.; Air Force Maj. Walter D. Gray, 38, of Conyers, Ga.; and USAID Foreign Service officer Ragaei Abdelfattah.
Griffin and Kennedy were assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division based at Fort Carson.
Gray was an air liaison officer and flight commander for the Fort Carson-based 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, which is part of the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing headquartered at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia.
Griffin remembered as father figure
The Gazette reported that Lt. Col. Scott Mueller said at the memorial service Tuesday that the Army’s culture of structure and discipline were a perfect fit for Griffin, but Griffin also would often joke with his troops.
Mueller remembered how Griffin would suggest a trip to the golf course right when his soldier evaluations were due. And Mueller smirked when Griffin then offered a shot or two of tequila.
“Griff was an inspirational leader, like a father to his troops,” Mueller said. “Kevin always had a way of keeping people focused through laughter.”
Kevin Griffin’s son, Sgt. Dane Griffin, and his nephew Spc. Derek Griffin each joined the military in his footsteps.
“He didn’t want us to go, but he was proud at the same time,” Derek Griffin said.
After the service at Fort Carson, a procession traveled from the Army post outside Colorado Springs to Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver for his burial.
Scores of people dabbed their eyes under graying skies while others wept softly during the memorial service.
“The Army in this country has lost a great soldier and a champion,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jody Heikkinen.
“Let us hold their service dear,” said Lt. Col. Keith Goode. “Let us make sure that their sacrifice is not in vain.”
The three men received a 21-gun salute before a single trumpet broke the silence.
Source: Military Times