By Andrea Cordle
According to U.S. Senator Rob Portman, it takes an act of Congress to rename a post office. For a fallen Grove City soldier, Congress did just that.
The Grove City Post Office was renamed and dedicated in honor of Army Specialist Joey Riley.
Portman held a special ceremony on July 1 at the American Legion in Grove City, along with Grove City leaders and the Riley family.
Joey Riley grew up in the area and attended Grove City High School, where he played football. He also continued his football career through college at Capital University. Riley enlisted in the Army in 2012. His unit was assigned to the NATO Base in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Riley was killed in action on Nov. 24, 2014, a few days before he was scheduled to return home.
“I wish I had gotten to know Joey,” said Portman.
The senator said in talking to the Riley family, he learned that Joey was a selfless young man who always had a positive attitude. He would never run from a challenge and truly cared about the people in Afghanistan.
“He was a superstar,” said Portman.
Joey worked a part-time summer job with the city of Grove City. He helped with landscaping and general labor, but it was his attitude that endeared him to city staff.
Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage spoke at the dedication ceremony. He said Grove City is a loving and caring community. When the city posted the post office dedication event on its social media page, Stage said nearly 40,000 people reacted to it to show support.
“We care and we feel for the loss,” said Stage.
Joey’s father, Rodney Riley also spoke at the ceremony. He said when they received word that Joey had been killed in action, the family didn’t know how they would get through. He credited his faith and community for helping them.
“Our family is humbled,” said Riley.
When Joey’s body was returned home, hundreds of community members lined the streets to pay tribute.
Portman said now future generations will know Joey Riley and will learn of his legacy each time they go to the local post office.
“We can all remember his example and the legacy he leaves – serve your fellow citizen,” said the senator.
Joey Riley received the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart among many other awards and decorations.
At the end of the ceremony, the Joey Riley plaque was unveiled and taken across the street to its new home, the post office.
The legislation to rename the Grove City Post Office was signed into law by President Barack Obama in March.