Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Robb Rolfing remembered

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- Robb Rolfing had wanted to be a soldier since he was a little kid. And when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, spurred him to join the Army, he aimed for the top.

"He had wanted to be a soldier and specifically a Green Beret, special forces guy, for a long time," said his father, Rex Rolfing of Sioux Falls.

"That was his dream. That's what he wanted to become. The elite of the elite. And that's what he was."

Staff Sgt. Robb Rolfing died early Saturday, Iraq time, after being hit by a round of enemy fire in a southern Baghdad neighborhood. He was 29.

He was in the Special Forces, assigned to Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group Airborne out of Fort Carson, Colo., the Defense Department said Monday.

After joining the Army, Rolfing was allowed to try out for Special Forces school. He was accepted but then was sent to Iraq for his first tour of duty.

"And then when he came back, he went through the intense year and a half of school that they (Special Forces) have," his father said.

Only about 3 percent of those allowed to try out eventually graduate, Rex Rolfing said.

His son had been in Iraq on his second tour of duty since March.

He was training Iraqi police to clear insurgents. "They came under fire in clearing a neighborhood in southern Baghdad," his father said. "He came under fire and he caught a round that went through his arm and into his chest."

His body is being brought home and is under 24-hour guard, accompanied by a Special Forces member from his unit. "We do not know where it is and when it will be here," Rex Rolfing said.

When a service is held in Sioux Falls "it'll be a celebration of Robb's life," his father said.

When an active Army soldier from South Dakota is killed as a result of combat, word comes to the South Dakota National Guard headquarters, said Maj. Orson Ward, South Dakota National Guard public affairs officer. "Because we're community based, we have trained casualty notification officers ... as well as chaplains that are able to provide support to our active (service) counterparts," he said.

"We're always here to provide assistance to families."

And that's what they did in this case.

Asked to describe how he and his wife, Margie, were notified, Rolfing said it was "kind of like the movies. They just show up with a chaplain and a guy from the service. Two guys in uniform show up at your front door and ring your doorbell. So it's difficult."

"You can't imagine" the emotions, Rolfing said. "We didn't even open the door, Margie and I. We knew right away ... when we saw the two soldiers standing there, we knew right away. We just started bawling and hugging each other. And it was probably a full minute before we could garner enough strength to open the door."

Robb was the oldest of Rex and Margie's three children. Brother T.J is 26 and sister Tiffany is 20.

Robb Rolfing played soccer, football and hockey and was the kicker for the Sioux Falls O'Gorman football squad in high school.

He got an academic scholarship and played soccer at Vassar College in New York.

"He was a very bright, bright young man," Rex Rolfing said.

Rex and Margie Rolfing have been married for 35 years.

Their wedding anniversary was Sunday.

From the Sioux City Journal

Related Link:
Robb L. Rolfing dies 'of wounds sustained from enemy small arms fire'