Monday, May 28, 2007

Kristopher A. Higdon dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit'

Family members and friends will gather at 10 a.m. today at Sherwood Church of Christ in Odessa in memory of Army Staff Sgt. Kristopher Allen Higdon, a soldier who lost his life defending his country.

Higdon had been overseas on his second tour of duty for six weeks when he was killed by a roadside bomb Tuesday, family members said.

"He was in Kuwait for about 3 weeks, then he went into Iraq," said Ronda Higdon, Kris's mother. "He was killed by a roadside bomb under a striker vehicle; it went off."

Kris would have turned 26 on July 10.

He grew up with his mother, stepfather and three younger brothers in Odessa where he graduated from Permian High School in 1999, but he was never too far away from his father, Ollie Lynn Little, his younger brother and two sisters who live in Midland.

Though Kris didn't carry Little's last name, the relationship between the fallen soldier and his father was very strong.

"I just love my son so much. I missed a lot of his life growing up, but we made up for a lot of it these last 4 or 5 years," Little said, holding back tears.

Little was in Denver, Colo., when Ronda Higdon told him about his son's death.

"She called me at about 10 o'clock (Wednesday) morning and got (to Midland) at around midnight last night," he said.

Kris left for his second tour in Iraq in early April. The last thing Little remembers saying to his son was to be careful and that he'd be waiting for him when he returned.

"He always said, 'Nah, don't worry about me. I'll be all right.' He never looked on the bad side of things," Little said.

The last time Ronda and her son spoke was Mother's Day.

"He called to tell me happy Mother's Day," she said softly.

While overseas, Kris and Little remained in contact through e-mails. In the last message Kris sent to his father, Little said his son led him to believe he was on one of the many search teams that was looking for three missing soldiers.

"He would never give specifics, but the e-mail said, 'I'm sorry I haven't e-mailed more, but we've been very busy with these three guys missing.' He loved his job," Little said.

"He would always keep me up-to-date on whatever he was doing. Every time we'd talk, he was always really excited to talk about his work. This year would have been his seventh year in the service, after finishing boot camp."

Little said he and Kris were more than just father and son; they were close friends and partners in crime. "Everybody was always on guard around us. We were big pranksters," he said with a laugh.

They also shared a love for the Texas Longhorns, but that was where their sport camaraderie ended.

"He was a big NASCAR fan," Little said. "We had different drivers; we'd always try to jab at each other about our drivers."

Both of Kris's parents described him as an all-around good kid; he was very happy and loved his family.

"Kris was always someone everyone looked up to," Little said. "He was just so easy going and easy to talk to. He wasn't like a boss or a mentor, just someone they looked up to."

Little said Kris's mother is "one of the best women in the world" and that Kris "loved his mother dearly."

Kris is survived by his wif,e MaKayne Higdon, and 4-year-old daughter Kacie, who Little said worshiped her father.

"That was his pride and joy, right there. The happiest day of his life was when his baby girl was born. She worships him; he was a very good father," Little said.

Ronda said Kris was a loving person and had always been "just a good kid."

"He loved his country, he loved soccer, loved his family and was a good daddy; he loved his baby," she said.

Even with the dangers that accompanied being a soldier in the armed forces, Kris was very proud of being in the military and believed in his work, his father said.

"He was doing what he thought was right, and that's the way he always lived his life," Little explained. "He believed in the cause that he was there for. To me, whatever he believed in was always so morally correct."

Ronda said Kris wanted his family to know that he was in Iraq for their protection, to fight for their freedom so they didn't have to be afraid.

Little said that while funeral arrangements are still pending, Kris will "most likely" be buried in the military cemetery in Fort Hood.

When asked what he would want everyone to know about his son, Little was at a loss for words.

"Wow, that's pretty tough," he said. "I don't think you'd have enough room for everything I'd want people to know."

From the Midland Reporter-Telegram