A United States Marine from Chicago's western suburbs has died while fighting in Afghanistan.
Lance Cpl. Kevin Oratowski of Wheaton was killed Wednesday when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby.
The 23-year-old, a Glenbard South graduate, was on his first combat deployment with the Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, California.
His parents, Steve and Mary Oratowski, are already on east coast awaiting the arrival of their son's body, said Glenbard South principal Terri Hanrahan.
"He sometimes was a slow starter, but a very strong finisher," Hanrahan said. "When he put his mind to something, literally there wasn't anything he couldn't accomplish."
Within hours of the news of Oratowski's passing, neighbors set up American flags in the subdivision he once called home.
"My heart goes out to them," said Joyce Vitagliano. "And we just thank Kevin for serving our country."
Another neighbor, Mary Kay Squires, baked muffins for the Oratowski family.
"No parent should have to go through this. My heart goes out to any one that does," she said.
Oratowski volunteered at a local nursing home.
"That commitment to other people has been a part of Kevin as he grew up," Hanrahan said.
He had received several personal service awards including the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Funeral arrangements are being finalized. Oratowski’s family expects his body to arrive home early next week.