HILL AIR FORCE BASE — Tributes, a 21-gun salute and explosive detonations customary among bomb disposal technicians were part of a memorial service Friday for Tech Sgt. Kristoffer M. Solesbee, who was killed in an explosion May 26 in Afghanistan.
The 32-year-old explosive ordnance disposal technician was described by his mother, Sandra Parker, as fun to raise, proud of his country and in love with his job. "I remember years ago he said 'Mom, this is the only job I could ever have where every single month I get to go out and blow something up and not get in trouble for it.'"
"We will miss him, but we know the job he had he did well," she said.
Solesbee's mother, his wife Lilia, and father Larry Solesbee, were among family at Dover Air Base, Del., May 28 for the return of Solesbee's body. He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery June 28.
"He enjoyed his work," his father said following the service. "Like anyone, he'd rather be home with his family, but he enjoyed saving lives."
"We need to remember all the guys who are working hard for us, laying down their lives for this country. And we need to encourage our political leaders to make better decisions going forward," Larry Solesbee said.
Solesbee, from Citrus Heights, Calif., was in his 12th year of service in the Air Force, including two combat tours in Iraq and his current deployment to Afghanistan. He is the recipient of the Bronze Star Medal with Valor device and second oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Force Combat Action Medal.
Solesbee was on his third war-zone deployment, which also included two deployments to Iraq, when he was killed by an improvised explosive device.
"I knew right away Kris was a great guy," Master Sgt. Steven Hallenbeck during the service. "He was a quiet guy" who was dedicated to his work and whose name became a benchmark in training, Hallenbeck said.
Col. Patrick Higby, commander of the 75th Air Base Wing, said 93 American EOD technicians across all service branches have been killed since 9/11, four of them assigned to Hill Air Force Base. "Our EOD technicians on the ground are the key to winning the war, tactically, on the ground," he said.
"He knew it was dangerous territory infested with enemy and enemy improvised explosive devices," Higby said. "It's a crucial mission. It's a mission that saves lives … and that's why Kris was passionate about it."