SAN DIEGO – A soldier who was killed in a bomb explosion last week in Afghanistan was on his 14th combat deployment — including four tours in Iraq and 10 in Afghanistan — making him the Army Ranger with the most deployments killed in action, an Army spokeswoman said Thursday.
Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij enlisted several months before 9/11 and had served in hundreds of missions. He was killed with two other soldiers in a bomb explosion Saturday in the Taliban heartland of Kandahar province.
"To volunteer that many times to deploy speaks volumes to Kris' character and dedication to his country," said Tracy Bailey, spokeswoman for the 75th Ranger Regiment, based at Ft. Benning, Ga. "He was larger than life. The man everybody wanted to be around."
Domeij was awarded two Bronze Stars for his service overseas and will be awarded a third Bronze Star posthumously, along with the Purple Heart, according to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
"He was one of those men who was known by all as much for his humor, enthusiasm, and loyal friendship, as he was for his unparalleled skill and bravery under fire," said Lt. Col. David Hodne, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, in a statement. "This was a Ranger you wanted at your side when the chips were down."
The 29-year-old California native is one of hundreds of Rangers whose deployments during the war on terror number in the double digits.
Rangers are deployed more often than regular soldiers on shorter, more intense tours — often the tours are four months long and include 400 to 500 combat missions. They usually return to the United States for about eight months of training and then head out again, Bailey said.
Domeij, a native of Santa Ana, Calif., is survived by his wife and two daughters. He had requested that family members not speak to the media after his death.
"Rangers as a whole are quiet professionals and I don't know his reasoning behind it, but many Rangers don't see the need to advertise what they do," Bailey said.
Col. Mark W. Odom, commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment, said in a statement that Domeij was a "game changer" who "had the value of an entire strike force on the battlefield."
Also killed in the attack was 20-year-old Pfc. Christopher A. Horns of Colorado Springs, Colo., a Ranger who was on his first deployment. Both Domeij and Horns were based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
1st Lt. Ashley White of the North Carolina National Guard also died in the explosion. The 24-year-old was the first casualty in the Army's wartime attempt to gain the trust of Afghan women by using specially trained female troops.