Flags raised at Elgin Scout camp to honor fallen soldier
By Denise Moran For The Courier-News September 23, 2012 8:08PM
The family of former Assistant Scoutmaster Kevin D. Grieco flag pole before the flag pole dedication in his honor of at Camp Big Timber in Elgin Saturday. September 22, 2012. (R-L) Father Ralph Grieco, mother Linda Grieco, daughter Angeli, 6, wife Rashmi, and son Joshua, 8. Winfield Boy Scout Troop 575 and other area Scouts honored Grieco of Bartlett, a staff sergeant with the Illinois Army National Guard who was killed in 2008 while serving in Afghanistan. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:09AM
ELGIN — Three flags were hoisted over the weekend at a new flag pole memorial at Camp Big Timber that was dedicated to the late Illinois Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kevin Grieco, 35, of Bartlett.
“We are taking the time to remember a fallen American hero,” Scoutmaster Stan Smolucha of Troop 575 in Winfield said at Saturday afternoon’s event. “Kevin loved to put a smile on everyone’s face. He would be happy that so many people came here today.”
Grieco, who had earned his Eagle Scout rank and had participated at events at the Boy Scouts’ Camp Big Timber, was killed on Oct. 27, 2008, by a suicide bomber in Baghlan, Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.
The three flags that were flown Saturday were the American flag, the military Honor and Remembrance flag, and the Boy Scout Wood Badge flag.
Grieco is buried at Arlington National Cemetery where his grandfather, U.S. Army Capt. John Grieco, is also buried.
Grieco had been assigned to 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery with the Illinois Army National Guard in Sycamore in 2006 and previously served 13 years with the U.S. Navy. The unit Grieco served with in Afghanistan was the largest deployment of the Illinois National Guard since World War II.
He left behind his wife, Rashmi; their two children, Joshua, 8, and Angeli, 6; his parents, retired Col. Ralph and Linda Grieco; his sister and brother-in-law, Jennifer and Chad Burch; and his niece, Meadow Rose Burch, 3.
Members of 2-122 Field Artillery, IL ARNG came to Camp Big Timber to honor their fallen comrade. Grieco’s commander in Afghanistan, Col. John Weber of the South Dakota National Guard, was also in attendance.
Grieco’s family members spoke at the memorial dedication.
“We thank everyone for coming here and being with us,” Rashmi said. “It means a lot to us. When I came here, I felt Kevin’s energy.”
Joshua read the dedication.
“He gave his life for his country,” Joshua said. “He was a servant leader and my dad.”
Grieco was born in Frankfurt, Germany. A retired Army colonel, his father Ralph said his children grew up in places inside and outside of the United States where he was stationed. On Saturday, Ralph recalled his son’s Scouting trail.
“Kevin started Scouting in Virginia and completed his Scouting in Missouri,” Ralph said. “He completed his Historic Trails Award with Troop 29 in Heidelberg, Germany. He learned how to ski in Switzerland. For his Eagle Scout project, he held a toy collection drive for Eastern European refugee children. He became an Eagle Scout at age 18. Kevin’s love of Scouting was a gift he wanted to pass on to his son.”
Smolucha thought about the time he spent with Kevin and the Scouts of Troop 575.
“I met Kevin when he was 25 years old,” Smolucha said. “He was our assistant Scoutmaster and ranger crew adviser. Whatever was asked of him, he would do. He was a godsend. He went with us to Isle Royale National Park in Michigan and the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin.”
Members of Boy Scout Troop 83 from Rockwall, Texas; Troop 575 from Winfield; Troop 23 from Wheaton; and Cub Scout Pack 231 from Bartlett all attended the dedication. Grieco’s son is a Wolf Cub Scout with Pack 231.
‘Labor of love’
Like Kevin Grieco, Dudley Nosworthy was involved in both military service and with the Boy Scouts of America.
Nosworthy served as a lieutenant colonel with the Texas National Guard and was Kevin’s team chief.
Nosworthy is the assistant scoutmaster of Troop 83 in Texas, which he said is 1,000 miles away from Elgin. Nosworthy said he knew Kevin for only 45 days.
“We talked mostly about family,” Nosworthy said. “I wish Kevin and I had the opportunity to talk about scouting. After Kevin was killed, the more I found out about him, the more I wanted to do something in his memory. Since Kevin came to Camp Big Timber so many times, I thought this was the ideal spot for his memorial. The flag poles that were here before were misaligned and bent. When I saw them, I knew new flag poles were needed.”
Grieco’s mother thanked Nosworthy and Smolucha for their work on the memorial.
“It was a labor of love for our son,” she said. “We can never repay you, but we love you both. It was Dudley’s idea to design the flag pole plaza and raise funds to build it. Stan spent countless hours of fundraising and offered his expertise and labor to complete this beautiful memorial.”
Construction on the memorial began on July 7, 2012, and ended during Labor Day weekend. The concrete slab base is 36 by 20 feet. The center pole is 35 feet tall. Over $15,000 was raised for the memorial.
Donations came from Elliott Construction Co., RDC Construction Co., Ozinga Concrete, Spreitzer Electric, Evergreen Oak Electric Supply, Home Depot in Geneva, Conley Steel, Bedrock Earthscapes, and McCann Construction Supply.
“Memorials are not cheap to build, but everyone wanted Kevin’s memory to last,” Smolucha said. “For every event at Camp Big Timber, they will raise the flags, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and read the plaque. Kevin will know that he’s not forgotten.”
“We are honored that the friends and family of Staff Sgt. Grieco have chosen to remember Kevin and his sacrifice with this memorial,” said Matt Ackerman, Scout executive for the Three Fires Council. “Now as future generations of Scouts assemble to honor America, they will always remember the sacrifice of Kevin and of all the men and women serving in our military.”