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Former NWC student killed in Afghanistan

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.

Griffin competed on the Riverton High School wrestling team and won a state championship before attending Northwest College from 1985-87 as a history major.

According to NWC records, Griffin was born in 1967 in Chicago, the son of Pat and Carol Griffin.

NWC associate professor Floyd Young was Griffin’s wrestling coach at Northwest.

“He was full of fun, a very good wrestler,” Young said. “He was the king of the Granby on the mat. Oh, boy, he could throw it on anybody. He threw a standing Granby on a boy from Idaho at a tournament in Montana, and he pinned him. ... I really thought he would win the nationals, but he got hurt. He really, really hurt his shoulder.”

Young said the college’s 1987 wrestlers were the Academic All American team, with a team grade-point average of 3.3 to 3.4.

“Kevin was way up there,” he said. “He was a good student.”

Griffin got married after he graduated from Northwest College. Young and his wife, Virginia, went to the wedding at the Ucross ranch near Buffalo.

“He had a beautiful wife,” Young said.

Young knew that Griffin had gone into the military, but hadn’t had contact with him in years. He was saddened to learn of Griffin’s death last week.

“Dog-gone, that’s sad. He left a family,” he said. “Oh, my. I just loved him. He was such fun to be around. He liked life.”

Griffin transferred to the University of Wyoming after two years, joined the military and continued to wrestle for the Army.

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 years old 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.

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.

1 comment

  • posted by Susan

    August 15, 2012 1:24 pm

    May the family know God's grace and everlasting love during this time of grief. All one has to do is see the steely look of aliveness in Sgt. Major's eyes, and it is immediately apparent this man truly epitomized the saying, "An ARMY of One".

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