Wednesday, October 14, 2009

SPC Kevin James Graham

SPC Kevin James Graham was born March 30, 1982. He died on September 26, 2009 in Afghanistan, in the service of his country.

SPC Graham joined the United States Army in September of 2007 and was a mortarman. He was serving in Afghanistan with the mortar section of 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, based at Fort Lewis, Washington. His unit deployed to Afghanistan in July 2009, and he was the 16th member of the Brigade to die in southern Afghanistan.

His unit was serving in the Shah Wali Kot district of Kandahar province. His platoon was tasked with firing mortars and illumination rounds to prevent Taliban fighters from occupying terrain from which they could launch attacks.

SPC Graham spent his last hours on a supply mission that included clearing bombs from culverts to make sure roads were safe for other patrols. A bomb exploded near his vehicle on that mission, killing him.

His numerous military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantry Badge.

SPC Graham had a passion for cars and World War II memorabilia, and adored his wife and stepson.

A memorial service held on October 8 at Fort Lewis was attended by hundreds of people when he was remembered as a soldier who loved his family, cars and working out.

On October 12, a charter flight delivered SPC Graham’s remains to Fort Hood, Texas for a funeral and interment. As the hearse left the fort, it was met by Patriot Guard Riders who escorted it to the funeral home in Copperas Cove, Texas.

When the Riders reached the funeral home, they joined a line of American Flags already in place for the funeral of retired 1SGT Thomas Workman. The Riders stood tall for two American heroes on their final journey and rendered honors to SPC Graham as his casket was moved from the hearse to the funeral home.

Funeral services were held for SPC Graham on October 14 at the Crawford-Bowers Funeral home in Copperas Cove. Patriot Guard Riders formed a line of American Flags at the entrance to the home to greet the arriving family and friends.

After the services, the Riders lead a funeral procession to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas for the final interment ceremony. Again, a line of American Flags was formed along the road at the committal shelter. This line then wrapped around the shelter during the rendering of full military honors.

The military honors were rendered by a U. S. Army Honor Guard and included the firing of three volleys of fire, playing of taps and the folding of the American Flag covering the casket. Folded flags were presented to SPC Graham’s wife, son, and his mother and father by Brigadier General William Grimsley, Deputy Commanding General of III Corps and Fort Hood.

SPC Graham was laid to rest, shortly after 1500 hours, on October 14, 2009, on a gentle, grassy hillside, overlooking the Texas Hill Country. Flags of the five military services were flying on a slight hill to the north, while the American Flag was at half-staff at the high point of the cemetery.

His final resting place is within one hundred yards of that of SFC Ronald Sawyer, a soldier in his unit, whom he knew and admired, who died on August 25.

Looking on, and cherishing his memory, were his wife, son, mother and father, brothers and numerous other family and friends.

Day is done,
gone the sun from the lake,
from the hill,
from the sky,
All is well,
safely rest.
God is nigh.

Thanks and praise for our days 'neath the sun,
'neath the stars,
'neath the sky.
As we go,
this we know.
God is nigh.

(with thanks to the Killeen Daily Herald, The Suburban Times, the Kenosha News, and The News Tribune for biographical information)

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