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Our loss

Aug 10, 2012 - By Steven R. Peck

U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin, killed in Afghanistan, was one of our own

From a faraway place via a terse report on a national news wire, terrible, personal news has reached Riverton. U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin is dead, killed on duty in Afghanistan.

He was a 1985 graduate of Riverton High School, where he was one of the best wrestlers the Riverton Wolverines ever put on the mat. He represented Wyoming on an international high school wrestling exchange.

He has family here. He was one of our own.

Drawn to a military career as a young man, he had served with valor and distinction in a U.S. Army uniform for nearly 25 years. This was not his first tour of duty in the battle-ripped region that has been the source of so much worry for America in the past decade. It wasn't his second, or even his third.

Again and again our country asked Kevin Griffin to return to the most dangerous place on Earth. Each time he did it, with a salute and a smile. Serving the United States of America was his life's work.

That work has carried him a long way from the wrestling mats at Riverton High School and the state-championship podium at the Casper Events Center. A search through The Ranger's newspaper archives Friday morning found him there in black-and-white photographs, competing hard and competing well, supporting his friends and teammates, earning plaudits from his coaches and respect from his competitors, wearing his Wolverine uniform with pride.

Giving his all.

He never stopped. Decades afterward, he still wore a uniform with pride and passion, still backed his team, still got accolades for his loyalty and strength, still played, worked and lived to win.

Any man in uniform knows the terrible possibilities that are part of the life he chooses. So do his family, friends and community. Still, there can be no adequate preparation for the kind of deceitful attack that took his life, nor for the news flash, the unexpected telephone call or the unwanted knock on the door from a somber man in uniform.

Those who served beside him learned long ago that he deserved the enduring appreciation of his nation. Today, everyone else does as well.

Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Griffin was 45 years old, too young to leave this life, too valued to leave it in the way he did, and too important to his country to be forgotten.

-- Steven R. Peck

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