Hill Air Force Base names street for fallen airman
Hill Air Force Base • Kristoffer Solesbee, a bomb-dismantling airman who died in Afghanistan in 2011, was remembered here Tuesday as his family and colleagues dedicated a street in his honor.
Solesbee Street, on a rise at the south end of Hill Air Force Base, overlooks Layton to the south and Clearfield to the west, a community where the airman and his wife, Lilia Solesbee, lived.
"Hill was not just a duty location. They made this their home," said Maj. Gen. Timothy Byers, the Air Force's head civil engineer, who traveled from Washington for the dedication.
Solesbee's widow, parents and sister sat in the front row and more than 20 members of his tight-knit flight the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad stood in their dress blues during the somber ceremony.
Rain drizzled as Lilia Solesbee pulled the strings to remove a paper cover from the street sign bearing her husband's name.
Of the five HAFB airmen killed so in Iraq and Afghanistan, four have been from that squad of 46 men and women.
Twelve of the bomb-dismantling airmen are now in Afghanistan, said the flight's commander, Maj. Robert Baran.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists have one of the most dangerous jobs in war: dismantling bombs and blowing up weapons caches before U.S. troops and their coalition partners can be hurt by them.
Solesbee was leading a three-man team May 26, 2011, clearing an area near the city of Shorabak, Afghanistan, so he and others could destroy a weapons cache. He and another airman were killed by an improvised explosive device.
"They go in harm's way day after day around the world," said Byers. "They risk their lives daily to save others. They are truly angels on the battlefield."
Sandy Parker, of Phoenix, said her worst nightmare came true when her son died. Nonetheless, she and her husband, Louis Parker, keep his memory alive by educating others about the sacrifices of U.S. fighters.
It's comforting knowing that he died doing what he loved, she said.
"He said it was the only job [where] he could blow up things once a month and not get in trouble," she said. "And he got paid to do it."
His father, Larry Solesbee, of Citrus Heights, Calif., urged his son's fellow airmen to give the family a call, even though it's hard to know what to say.
Kristoffer Solesbee joined the Air Force in 1999 and had deployed twice to Iraq before going to Afghanistan last year.
"I, for one, would love to hear some funny or exciting or even ho-hum stories about Kris," said Solesbee. "Feel free to share your adventures as well."
Hill Air Force Base previously named streets after the three other Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialists who died in a single blast in Iraq in January 2007 Elizabeth Loncki, Timothy Weiner and Daniel Miller as well as after Ryan Balmer, who was with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and was killed in Iraq in June 2007.