An LDS soldier known for his "can-do" spirit, generous heart and prowess on the wrestling mat died Oct. 27 while serving in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Sgt. Dale R. Griffin, 29, of Terre Haute, Ind., was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan's Kandahar province. That blast claimed the lives of six other American soldiers.
An Associated Press photo of Brother Griffin's flag-draped coffin being saluted by President Barack Obama at Dover Air Force Base was circulated by news agencies across the country.
Brother Griffin was deployed with the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash. He is survived by his parents, Gene and Dona Griffin, and three siblings. Sister Griffin told the Church News that their son began considering a military career while still in high school.
"Dale talked a lot about [joining] the military," she said. "He had a fierce loyalty to his friends, his family and his country,"
Sgt. Griffin's deployment to Afghanistan was reportedly his first since enlisting in 2005.
A decorated high school and college wrestler, Sgt. Griffin was remembered by his former coaches as a young man who delivered when something needed to be done.
"When everyone else was getting down ... he was (saying), 'We can do this. Come on,' " said Steven Joseph in an Associated Press report. Mr. Joseph was his wrestling coach at Terre Haute South High School.
Sgt. Griffin was an Eagle Scout and high-school state wrestling finalist. He went on to wrestle at the Virginia Military Institute, where he was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 2000 All-Academy Wrestling Championship. After joining the military, he began competing in Army-sponsored mixed-martial-arts bouts. He recently claimed the post championship in his weight division.
Brother and Sister Griffin said their son felt compelled to make a difference in the world around him.
"He was always there for the underdog," said Brother Griffin. "He helped those who were in need and having difficulties in their lives."
The Griffins, who belong to the Honey Creek Ward, Bloomington Indiana Stake, said they take comfort in the strong relationships their son enjoyed with his parents and siblings. They are a family that prays and plays together.
Brother and Sister Griffin said they have also found comfort in the support of their community and fellow Church members.
Funeral services are scheduled for Nov. 11 in Terre Haute on Veterans Day.