On Saturday October 22, 2011 Sgt. First Class Kristoffer Domeij, 29, was killed by an IED, along with two others, First Lieutenant Ashley White, 24 and Ranger Private First Class Christopher A. Horns, 20, who was on his first combat deployment. They encountered the IED in Kandahar Province, in Afghanistan. His story would not be much different than that of thousands of others who have died in that war and the one in Iraq, but for one very significant difference; Sgt. First Class Kristoffer Domeij was on his 14th deployment.
It is hard to imagine, but it is true. Kristoffer Domeij joined the Army two months before the events of 9/11 and he has for the last decade, then, served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He did four tours in Iraq and was on his tenth in Afghanistan when he was killed in Kandahar Province just last week.
Sgt. Domeij was with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regiment during all of this time. He enlisted in 2001, and after basic was sent to the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. He was a deeply respected leader known for his sense of humor, his enthusiasm and his loyal friendship, and for his "unparalleled skill and bravery under fire", according to Lt. Col. David Hodne.
Why had he been deployed so many times? The answer, in part, is that the average tour of duty for Rangers is 3-4 months, not the year-long tours of other units. But during their tours they see much more intense combat situations; up to as many as 400-500 missions during a single deployment. During his 14 tours of duty, Sgt. Domeij earned three Bronze Stars; the third will be awarded posthumously. He also received the Purple Heart.
Sgt. First Class Domeij leaves behind his wife, Sarah, and two daughters, Mikajsa, and Aaliyah.
What we have asked of this young man and his family, and the service and loyalty that they gave in return, are incomprehensible to most of us. Even those of us who have served in other wars cannot imagine what this young man did, the number of times he was sent back into the face of war's dangers and threats. In the end, he gave the last full measure of his devotion and of his life for the men and women of his unit, for his country, and for all of us.
The costs of war are always heavy. They bring us a weight of sadness that is hard to bear. Sgt. First Class Kristoffer Domeij's service to this nation went beyond the call of duty and words fail us in our effort to express clearly, or well, our sadness and our respect for him. Our hearts go out to his wife and daughters. They have seen him go away and return so many times, but his coming home this time is a burden for them that none of us can imagine, or take away. We can only offer our devotion to serve them with our prayers and our actions.
We have lost one of the best among us. How many of us can say that we have the level of commitment and perseverance that this young man modeled with his life? If we could, as individuals and as a nation, bring as much dedication and perseverance to everything we do every day as Sgt. First Class Kristoffer Domeij brought to everything he did; if we could offer half as much of ourselves in our duties toward our families, toward our jobs, toward our neighbors and toward our local communities, I believe we would experience the world differently. I think we would all be better.
Let us use this great loss as a challenge to become better ourselves. We could not honor Kristoffer Domeij in any better way.