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Tom Sileo's op-ed column on The Unknown Soldiers: Across the Street
Jesse (right) and Mary Grindey
Courtesy of Mary Grindey
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ATLANTA--Staff Sgt. Jesse Grindey and his wife were walking down a Hazel Green, Wis., street when they noticed a beautiful house for sale.
"We were walking to the cemetery to visit his grandfather, and I told him 'I like this house,' and he said 'I like it, too,'" Mary Grindey told The Unknown Soldiers. "But I said 'Who would buy that house who would want to live by the cemetery?'"
Hazel Green, located near the Illinois border, is known as Wisconsin's "point of beginning," which is particularly appropriate for Mary. A native of the Philippines, she met her future husband seven years ago in South Korea. They were married in 2008, just before Staff Sgt. Grindey was transferred to Japan. In 2011, Jesse and Mary moved to the United States.
"When we found out we were coming here to the States, he said he would be deployed [to Afghanistan] no matter what," Mary said. "I told him 'don't volunteer.'"
Jesse had been volunteering his entire life. Not only had the Wisconsin native served in Iraq, but he was also a volunteer firefighter and EMT with the Hazel Green Fire Department and Rescue Squad.
"If there was a fire, he'd jump into a fire truck and then jump into the fire," Mary said.
But things were different now, as the Army couple was trying to settle down while raising two young children whom Jesse adored. Still, the soldier remained steadfast in his commitment to serve.
"The night before he left, I told him 'Can't you get out of the Army?'" Mary said. "He said 'No, this is my job.'"
Jesse deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Dec. 30, 2011, with the 287th Military Police Company, based out of Fort Riley, Kan. With her husband thousands of miles away, Mary took on the responsibility of caring for two young children in an unfamiliar town and country.