Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Casey J. Grochowiak, Army, Staff Sergeant -- Rest In Peace

Casey J. Grochowiak, 34
Army, Staff Sergeant
Based: Ft. Carson, Colo.
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: August 30, 2010
Malajat, Afghanistan
Married, 2 children
Gender: Male
Hometown: Carlsbad
High School: Horizon Christian Fellowship Academy (Clairemont)
Burial: Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery, San Diego
From the North County Times:
A U.S. Army Ranger who grew up in Encinitas and La Costa is one of the latest casualties of the widening war in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Casey J. Grochowiak died Monday when he got out of a vehicle to check a suspicious object that turned out to be a roadside bomb that detonated and killed him instantly, according to his brother, Erik Grochowiak.
"He was apparently in the lead car of a convoy when he noticed it, got out to inspect and took the brunt of the explosion," Grochowiak said. "We were told he died instantly."
[Also killed was First Lt. Mark Noziska, 24, of Papillion, NE.] 
Married and the father of two, Grochowiak, 34, became an elite Army Ranger a few years ago, his brother said Wednesday.
He served a previous tour in Iraq and spent time in Afghanistan during the 2001 invasion of the south-central Asian nation, Erik Grochowiak said.
He left for Afghanistan in early August, a deployment he didn't have to go on because of a back problem.
"He didn't need to, but he told us he wanted to go and to help protect the younger guys," his brother said.
Grochowiak's body was returned Wednesday to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, where his father and wife were waiting, his brother said.
The family moved to Encinitas in the mid-1970s and later to La Costa. Casey Grochowiak graduated from Horizon Christian Fellowship Academy in Clairemont and joined the Army in the mid-1990s.
"My brother grew up in an affluent area and could have done whatever he wanted to, but he wanted a career in the military," his brother said. "He was truly the kind of person that makes the military great ---- he took his orders and always gave 110 percent."
The family ---- including his parents, Edward and Barbara Grochowiak, who now live in Bonsall ---- looked at Casey as someone who was "invincible," Erik Grochowiak said.
"My brother was the type of guy who wasn't afraid of anything," he said. "He was always incredibly brave."
He and his wife, Celestina, and their two children made their home in Colorado Springs, Colo.
A funeral ceremony is tentatively planned for Sept. 11 at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.
"My family and I can only survive this by believing that he helped save others' lives," his brother said. "We are not a family that will sit and cry and say he is better off in heaven.
"We want to stand up and say what he stood for and how proud of him we are and celebrate his life. Him dying in Afghanistan, which is where the September 11 terror attacks started, and now burying him on that date would mean a lot to us."
Roadside bombs are taking a huge toll on U.S. troops in Afghanistan. As of early Wednesday, 322 U.S. service members have been killed by the crude devices since Jan. 1, making this the deadliest year of the nearly 9-year-old conflict.
Staff Sgt. Casey Grochowiak is shown with his wife, Celestina, and children Deegan, 6, and Matia,14. (Photo courtesy of Erik Grochowiak)

Read more about Army Sergeant Casey J. Grochowiak in the 
LA Times
and at the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry site.


1st Lieutenant Mark Noziska
Army 1st Lt. Mark Noziska -- Rest In Peace

Mark Noziska’s father, Phil Noziska, said his son had planned to make a career out of the Army and had been in Afganistan less than a month.

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