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updated: 10/27/2017 8:16 PM

Winfield honors fallen soldier on anniversary of his death

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  • Ralph Grieco gets a hug Friday after the unveiling of a street sign honoring his son, Kevin, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan nine years ago. The village has designated Waterford Drive as "SSG Kevin Grieco Way."

      Ralph Grieco gets a hug Friday after the unveiling of a street sign honoring his son, Kevin, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan nine years ago. The village has designated Waterford Drive as "SSG Kevin Grieco Way."
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco

    Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco

  • Winfield has designated Waterford Drive as "SSG Kevin Grieco Way" in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco, who was killed nine years ago in Afghanistan.

      Winfield has designated Waterford Drive as "SSG Kevin Grieco Way" in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco, who was killed nine years ago in Afghanistan.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Nine years after his death, Waterford Drive was named "SSG Keven Grieco Way" in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco. Left to right are his parents, Ralph and Linda Grieco, and his children, Joshua, 13, and Angeli, 11.

      Nine years after his death, Waterford Drive was named "SSG Keven Grieco Way" in honor of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco. Left to right are his parents, Ralph and Linda Grieco, and his children, Joshua, 13, and Angeli, 11.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Winfield has put up a honorary street sign in remembrance of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco, killed in 2008 during a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

      Winfield has put up a honorary street sign in remembrance of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco, killed in 2008 during a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
    Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Winfield honors fallen soldier

 
 

Ralph Grieco always wears two dog tags around his neck.

One is from his 26 years in the Army. The other belonged to his son, Kevin, who was killed during a 2008 suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

"It just reminds me," Ralph Grieco said. "It was one of the things that he wore. It keeps me close to him."

On Friday -- nine years to the day of his death -- Winfield ensured that future generations will be reminded of Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco by naming a street in his honor.

The Grieco family gathered with a large group of friends, neighbors and village officials at the corner of Winfield Road and Waterford Drive for a ceremony unveiling a street sign honoring Kevin Grieco.

The honorary sign, which has white letters on a brown background reading "SSG Kevin Grieco Way," is positioned above the existing Waterford sign near his parents' house. Ralph and Linda Grieco can see it from their backyard.

"When people come by here, they will continue to remember Kevin and ask questions about him if they don't know," Ralph Grieco said. "So it's a way of keeping his memory alive. Because when you don't say their names, then they've died a second time."

Kevin Grieco, who represented the fourth generation of his family to serve in the military, was killed on Oct. 27, 2008 -- two days after his 35th birthday -- by a suicide bomber in Baghlan, Afghanistan. He left behind his wife, Rashmi, and two children, Joshua and Angeli.

The Bartlett man had served 14 years with the Navy and Navy Reserve and was training Afghan police with the Illinois Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery.

During his years in the Navy Reserve, Kevin Grieco earned his associate degree from the College of DuPage and his bachelor's degree from Aurora University. He lived in Winfield from 1997 to 2004 and volunteered as an adult leader with a Boy Scout troop in the village.

Ralph Grieco said his son left the Navy Reserve and enlisted in the Illinois Army National Guard in 2006 because he wanted to do more for his country.

"His assignments weren't putting him in areas where he felt he was contributing to the war on terror," said Ralph Grieco, adding his son "was very much affected" by the attacks of Sept. 11.

Because he had a college degree, Kevin Grieco applied for officer candidate school through the National Guard. But he put that application on hold because he felt going on the deployment would make him a better officer, his father said.

During Friday's ceremony, Winfield Trustee Jim McCurdy read the village resolution naming the street. "The village seeks to honor Winfield's own Grieco family and their son's ultimate sacrifice," according to the resolution.

Kevin Grieco is buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, and his parents don't often have the opportunity to go there. So having the honorary street sign close to their house means a lot, Ralph Grieco said.

"This helps our family," he said, "knowing that the village has honored him this way."

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