Body of Hazel Green, Wis. soldier home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Body of Hazel Green, Wis. soldier home

Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindey died March 12 in Afghanistan Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindey died March 12 in Afghanistan

The body of Hazel Green, Wis. native Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindey was returned home Tuesday from Afghanistan.

Grindey's body arrived at the Dubuque Regional Airport at approximately noon on Tuesday. A motorcade of more than 50 vehicles, including fire trucks and law enforcement officers' cars from departments throughout southwestern Wisconsin, then drove through Grindey's hometown of Hazel Green, Wis., to its final destination at the Haudenshield Funeral Home in nearby Cuba City, Wis. Leading the motorcade were more than 100 motorcyclists, members of the Patriot Guard.

"I know when them motorcycles rolled through town today, it was hard not to have tears coming down your eyes," Joe Hillary said. He served on the Hazel Green Fire Department with Grindey and watched the passing of the motorcade.

Tuesday afternoon, hundreds of people wishing to pay their respects lined up along Highways 11 and 80 en route from US Hwy 151/61 to Cuba City, via Hazel Green.

The motorcade passed through Hazel Green a little after 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Tammy Hanson Rivera graduated from high school with Grindey and was at the procession.

"He always, always from the get-go wanted to be a police officer. That was his dream, to grow up and be a cop, and, you know, he got to live that dream in the military," Hanson Rivera said.

Hillary said he remembers the soldier as a caring individual, who always had a smile on his face.

"Jesse was one of them kids that was always so full of life. Full of energy," Hillary said. "Jesse talked about in another 10, 12 years, he's going to retire and move back to Hazel Green and be part of the community again."

Tuesday, Grindey returned to his community, but it was in a way nobody ever hoped for.

"You know, you just wonder the price of war," Hillary said.

"It's rough," Hanson Rivera said. "He was so young and had young children at home and a wife, you know. I felt terrible for them, you know."

It's a pain the entire village feels.

"Hazel Green, you know, we're a small community," Hillary said. "When somebody gets a loss, it's everybody's loss."

Grindey's obituary can be found on the Haudenshield Funeral Home Website HERE.

According to the Department of Defense, Grindey died March 12, while serving with the U.S. Army in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan.

Grindey, who was 30, was a military police officer assigned to the 287th Military Police Company, 97th Military Police Battalion based at Fort Riley, Kan.

The Department of Defense released no details of his death, except for that the U.S. Army is still investigating it.

It was Grindey's second deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

"Jesse was proud to be in the service," Hillary said. "He was really proud of that, and he was proud of getting to go overseas and serving overseas, and it never bothered him. He never, ever had any fear about it. He was happy to do it."

Grindey joined the Army in March of 2002. He was assigned to Fort Riley in July 2011.

According to the Department of Defense, his awards include the Army Commendation Medal with five oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon with three stars, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon.

His stepmother said Grindey had just been deployed to Afghanistan on Dec. 31.

Grindey was married and had two young children. He was a 2001 graduate of Southwestern High School in Hazel Green.

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