Thursday, May 26, 2011

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee, 32, of Citrus Heights, Calif.

TSgt Solesbee was assigned to the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah; died May 26, 2011 in the Shorabak district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. Staff Sgt. Joseph J. Hamski was also killed.

TSgt Solesbee led a "counter-IED team" of three Explosive Ordinance Disposal technicians that was attached to an army combat team to protect it from IEDs encountered while on patrol. Solesbee's team was responding with an army combat team to a weapons cache Thursday when an IED functioned, killing him, said Col. Patrick Higby, Hill Air Force Base installation commander.

"It's with tremendous regret we announce the loss of one of our own today," said Col. Patrick Higby, 75th air base wing commander. "During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers are with Sergeant Solesbee's family and friends, as well as the entire explosive ordnance disposal community. His sacrifice and service are not forgotten and he will be greatly missed."

Col. Higby praised the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit, saying that it is one of the most dangerous assignments, but also saves many lives. "I'm extremely proud of our EOD flight here," Higby said. "They've really gone through some tough times. They're resilient. They're very proud of their mission and again, every day they serve with the mindset of 'we are here to save lives.' When they get hit by an (improvised explosive device), the first thing they want to do is get right back in the fight to keep saving lives."

TSgt Solesbee deployed to Afghanistan in January and was due to return home this summer. This was his second combat tour since being stationed at Hill in 2008.

As a young boy, Kristoffer Solesbee, loved helping people. Growing up, he could often be found next door at his grandparents’ home or across the street helping his elderly neighbor, Mr. Bud.

“He used to come over and follow me around, as he grew into a teenager he would help me with yard work, he was such a pleasant boy to be around,” Bud says.

“His father called and told me. I was just shocked, it hurts,” says Cleo Reit, TSgt Solesbee's grandmother.

Father, Larry Solesbee, said his son died serving his country while fighting in Afghanistan. "His grandfather retired from the Air Force after 30 years, and I was in the Air Force for 9 years," said Solesbee. He said his son was on his third tour, serving two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He was due home for leave in August. He said Memorial Day will always carry a special meaning for him. "In years gone by, I typically thought of today as a day off of work, but certainly, starting this year, it will be more meaningful," said Solesbee.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee was killed in action on 5/26/11.

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