Funeral held for National Guardsman

November 6, 2008 2:55:30 PM PST
Family and friends gathered Thursday morning at a church in the western suburbs to mourn the death of Sergeant Kevin Grieco. The Illinois National Guardsman was killed late last month in Afghanistan. Grieco is survived by his wife and their two children. His funeral took place Tuesday morning at St John the Baptist Catholic Church in west suburban Winfield.

Sgt. Grieco spent his entire adult life serving his country and serving his community. He was in Afghanistan training the new Afghan police force when he was killed by a suicide bomber. Next Saturday, he was supposed to come home to visit his young family

More than 300 elementary students from the school next door to the church lined the street holding small American flags and homemade signs. The Bartlett Fire Department led the funeral procession on this rainy morning.

Friends and family members comforted each other as they said goodbye to Grieco. He lived in Barlett. His parents live in Winfield and attend St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, where Thursday's funeral was held.

Close friends of Sgt. Grieco say he spent his life serving others.

"He was an Eagle Scout. He was a patriot. He was a good definition basically. He was just -- I can't think of anyone that can say anything bad about him. He was always cheerful and friendly and willing to help anybody out," said Pat Howe, friend.

Sgt. Greco was killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan October 27. The 35-year-old husband and father of two enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in 2006 after 13 years of service in the Navy.

"Tremendous soldier and man who can learn so many different skills," said Col. Michael Haerr, Illinois National Guard.

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was among the local and state officials in attendance. Grieco's father is a retired lieutenant colonel. His mother volunteers with an organization called Operation Support our Troops.

"I see this family as really dedicated to service to their country and community," said Deb Rickert, family friend.

Friends say Sgt. Grieco loved the outdoors, he enjoyed working on his trucks and spending time off-roading. He was also heavily involved with the Boy Scouts, mentoring teens and leading trips.

"Kevin was an awesome guy. He would do anything for everyone. He was a volunteer to the bones with the Scouts. He was in the Navy reserves with me and then when he went to the National Guard," said Michael Johnson, friend.

"He was a fun guy too. When the time came to have a great time, Kevin had a great time. I am honored to serve with him," said Slobodan Martinov, friend.

Sgt. Grieco is the nineteenth soldier from the Illinois National Guard killed in action since operations began in Afghanistan and Iraq. He is survived by his wife, his 4-year-old son and his 2-year-old daughter.

Grieco will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery.


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