GREENVILLE – Greenville’s annual horse parade may have been cancelled because of weather, but there was no way Greenville residents were going to cancel honoring one of their own on Saturday. For the first time since he was severely injured in Raqqa, Syria over two years ago, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy returned to his hometown. Several hundred people gathered around the city building as the snow fell to welcome Kenton and his family home.
Chief Petty Officer Stacy, a 2002 graduate of Greenville High School, was clearing IEDs (Improvised Explosive Device) on the second floor of a hospital in Raqqa when one of the devices exploded causing life-threatening injuries.
In 2018, President Donald Trump recognized Stacy and the man who saved his life, Army SSgt. Justin Peck, during his State of the Union speech.
For Stacy and his wife, Lindsey, and their four children, the day he was injured changed their lives forever. Stacy, now a quadriplegic and blind in his left eye, is confined to a specialized wheelchair. He was eventually able to move from his hospital room in Texas back to his home in San Diego to be with his family.
Kenton, Lindsey and their family were greeted by family and a huge delegation of Darke County residents at the Columbus Airport. Their arrival also prompted a huge turnout from the Columbus television stations. Lindsey shared, “We are just incredibly blessed and feel honored that everyone keeps supporting us and made our first time home a tremendous huge event.”
Lindsey admitted the reception and coming home was a “little overwhelming and nerve-racking.” She added that coming home “brings back a lot of memories before he got hurt.”
While at the airport, the Stacy family received a letter from Governor Mike DeWine.
The reception at the airport and drive back to Greenville was organized by the Ohio Patriot Guard Riders with assistance from the Greenville VFW Post 7262’s Michael Maloney. A caravan of Ohio State Highway Patrol cars and the Darke County delegation escorted the family back to their hometown.
According to Darke County Veterans Service Commissioner Gaylen Blosser, “This really is a huge event, much more than I expected.” He and his other commissioners witnessed approximately 10 highway patrol cars either leading them and bringing up the rear throughout the entire trip. Overpasses were filled with lights as ambulances, fire trucks and police officers as the first-responders saluted as Stacy passed their locations.
Lindsey told the Columbus media that her children were excited to see snow and that is exactly what they got. When the caravan made it to Darke County and the rain turned to snow, the caravan was greeted by more lights and sirens as local fire departments and rescue units celebrated his arrival. Once they hit the city limits, local police, fire and rescue units joined the caravan and by the time they got to downtown Greenville, the caravan stretched from the Traffic Circle to Washington Avenue.
When the door to the van was opened, a huge cheer erupted. Maloney exclaimed, “Louder, let’s make this place roar.”
Lindsey spoke on behalf of the family, “We just want to thank everyone for their continued love and support. This wouldn’t be possible, us coming home, without it. We ask that you continue to pray for our family. I thank you all for coming out in this weather.”
The welcome home celebration wasn’t the only part of their return that needed to be planned. According to Maloney, volunteers helped build a wheelchair ramp for the family through a donation of materials from Lowe’s.
The Stacy family will have several Thanksgiving celebrations throughout the week and will be guests of honor at a special dinner on Friday at the Greenville VFW.
Contact Editor Ryan Berry at firstname.lastname@example.org or (937) 569-0066. Read more news, features and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.