News: Carson honors lives lost in line of duty
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers, families, friends and community members gathered to honor the memory of Sgt. Maj. Kevin J. Griffin, senior enlisted leader, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division; Maj. Thomas Kennedy, fire support officer, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div.; and Air Force Maj. Walter “D.G.” Gray, air liaison officer, 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, during a memorial service held in their honor at Founder’s Field, Aug. 23.
Griffin, Kennedy and Gray were killed on their way to a provincial council’s office in Sarkowi, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, Aug. 8, when two suicide bombers detonated their bombs.
Soldiers assigned to the 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., held a memorial service in Afghanistan, Aug. 10, to honor the three soldiers who lost their lives in the incident.
Friends and colleagues of the fallen warriors spoke of their experiences at the ceremony. They told stories of time spent with their fallen comrade, laughed about inside jokes, and reminisced about time spent together.
After speeches, a Pikes Peak Highlander bagpiper honored the fallen warriors with a rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which he played as he marched to the soldier’s memorial.
Griffin, a native of Riverton, Wyo., joined the Army in 1988, and was first assigned to 2nd Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in Fort Riley, Kan., as an armor crewman.
Griffin is survived by his wife, Pamela, and their two children, Dane and Kylie.
"I received short notice…that I would have a new sergeant major upon arrival, Griffin from Fort Lewis,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Jody Heikkinen, senior enlisted leader, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT., 4th Inf. Div. “I called a fellow sergeant major and asked if they knew this Griffin guy, and he said, ‘You’re getting Griffin? You’re going to love him Jody, he’ll take care of you guys,’ and truer words have never been spoken.”
Kennedy, a native of West Point, N.Y., commissioned in the Army in 2000, and was first assigned to the Republic of Korea and served on “Freedom’s Frontier,” as a fire support officer.
Kennedy is survived by his wife, Kami, and their two children, Brody and Margaret.
"I met then cadet candidate Thomas Kennedy in the summer of 1996 while serving as his cadet first sergeant at the U.S. Military Academy, and from the moment I connected with this hard-charging, motivated, positive, inspiring guy, I knew I had met someone very special,” said Maj. Timothy Knoth, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. “Tommy brings out the best in everyone, and for that summer immersion together, I will remain forever grateful.”
Gray, a native of Conyers, Ga., enlisted in the Air Force in 1994, and served three years as an enlisted tactical air controller prior to joining the Air Force Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He graduated in 2001 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned to 47th Operations Support Squadron at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, as the airfield flight operations officer.
Gray is survived by his wife, Heather, and their three children, Nyah, Garrett and Ava.
“Always a positive force in the Brigade, D.G.’s smile and engaging demeanor regularly brightened a room during staff meetings, in the chow hall, or huddled around a map, planning operations,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Palarino, commander, Rear Detachment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div.
As a final tribute paid by soldiers to their fallen comrades, Ivy Division conducted the Last Roll Call. It has its origin in the accountability roll call conducted by the unit First Sergeant following combat, and is called with the conviction held by soldiers that all unit members will be accounted for, and none will ever be forgotten.
After Final Roll Call, the Firing Volley echoed through the field, honoring the memories of each soldier. Families, soldiers, and friends walked up to the memorial to render final honors and pay their respects to their loved ones.