Paratroopers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division came together to pay tribute to one of their fallen comrades, Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Griffey, during a memorial service held Jan. 15 at the All American Chapel.
Griffey was assigned to the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th BCT and deployed twice during his 19-year career, once to Iraq and most recently to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“He was a leader who led with passion and emotion,” said Master Sgt. Jerry Hanshaw, from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, currently assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT.
Hanshaw served as Griffey’s first sergeant for almost three years, he said. He said Griffey left a lasting impact on those who knew him and always went out of his way to ensure that his troopers were taken care of and that he guarded them as if they were his own children.
Another paratrooper who worked closely with Griffey also spoke on his behalf during the service.
“It was truly an honor to know, serve with and call Jeff a true friend,” said Sgt. 1st Class William Holman, from Fayetteville, currently assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT.
Griffey’s three children — Clarissa, Casey and Jeffrey, were the main priority in Griffey’s life, said Holman.
“He was the father that I only wish I could be,” added Holman.
Holman had a close personal and professional relationship with Griffey. The two Soldiers served together as jumpmasters in the division and Griffey was the best man in Holman’s wedding.
“As a friend, Jeff was the only guy I could always count on,” said Holman. “He was still recovering from an accident during my wedding and had to use a cane to walk but he was willing to crawl down the aisle if he had to, just to stand by my side,” Holman said.
During the service, the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus sang Amazing Grace and a 21-gun salute was rendered in Griffey’s honor.
Emotion filled the room as the service concluded. Those in attendance had the opportunity to pay their final respects as they saluted a memorial display consisting of a picture of Griffey, jump boots and an M-16 rifle topped with a maroon beret — symbolic of a fallen paratrooper.
Afterward, Hanshaw said that what stood out most about Griffey was that he always remained positive, even in the worst of times.
“He had a great attitude because he was doing what he loved to do, which was being a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne Division,” said Hanshaw. “We were a hell of a team.”