Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Army Maj. Charles R. Soltes, Jr.

36, of Irvine, California.
Soltes died in Mosul, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy vehicle. He was assigned to 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, Army Reserve, Upland, California. Died on October 13, 2004.

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"You are missed my "Brother" and may you rest in peace....."
MAJ Mike Svec (USAR Retired) of San Diego, CA

"I still miss my friend. Always such a good heart and he would always listen to me. It still hurts."
Dave Hammer of Fort Detrick, MD

"I remember.
I am sitting here with my 9th annual shot of Jameson, and I think back on the life we lost. I think of how short his actual time in country was. As the time goes by it means more, more memories, more events, just more. I am trying to fill in the blanks, the empty spaces, with meaning and I am not that successful. I think of what he left behind, what he could have imparted on me, his family, and his surroundings.
I lost my own father when I was young; I know how tough it can be for a family. The Holidays, the Birthdays, the annual remembrances. I wish I could say it gets easier, but what actually happens is you get numb to it. Then the numbness, unfortunately, turns it into a memory that is called up at strange times. You get on with your life because that is all you can do. The lost aren’t here to help, to offer advice, to live your experiences with you. You remember them on the odd occasion, dates become more important. The time between reminders gets longer, and then it is all ‘what could have been’.
Come May, it will be 25 years for my own father’s passing. There were major life events he missed; you comfort yourself with what it would be like for them to still be around. What they would say. It would always be important and fit the occasion. But then the event would be over, and the memory would then be suppressed. You’ve learned that keeping the thought alive doesn’t help, not because someone told you not to do it (and they have) –but because by this time, you’ve dwelt enough for everyone. You carry on. You wear the brave face. And then it is the next day.
I wish the Soltes family and friends peace. Time has passed and new memories have been made. I hope the time between has been cathartic and that you take solace in the fact that some of us still remember; probably more than you know. You aren’t alone."
Brendan Miller of San Jose, CA

"I first met Rob at the AMEDD Officer Basic Course in San Antonio in the late 90's. I could tell from the start of our friendship that this was the kind of officer, leader, and man I would strive to be like. My best memory was winning the OAC volleyball tournament with him as a teammate. When I found out about his death, it really hit me hard, as he was the first friend that I had lost to war. I have deployed twice in support of OIF & OEF and will never forget the sacrifice Rob, the other fallen warriors, and their families have made for our great nation."
LTC John Mann of Ft Bragg, NC

"I did not know Robert personally. While I was preparing for deployment to Iraq I came across his name; listed as one of the Army Reservists killed in action to date. At the time I could not imagine what it must have been like for his family and friends. During my tour, I came to know two reserve officers who were both killed on the same day. I now know the pain of losing a comrade and friend. I also know the pride that comes with having been given the honor to be in the company of such men. I do not have the words to express my sorrow. Instead, I leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln in a letter to a mother of five sons killed in battle during the Civil War; "I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom"

Very Respectfully,"
LTC lance Cross, USAR (Ret) of Chandler, Arizona

"Rob, Just thinking of you and your family tonight. Thank you for being such an amazing teacher as I began my clinical training. You taught me how to examine patients efficiently, assess contact lens fits, diagnose various eye diseases, and even how to wear my uniform correctly. Most of all, you gave me the idea to ask Ilene out on a date. Almost ten years of marriage later, thank you!

We last corresponded a week before you gave your life, in the aftermath of the death of a close family member of mine, who was also young. To then learn of your passing the following week was simply horrific. I still can not make any sense of those events, only to say that I remain indebted to your mentorship. You, Sally and the boys are in my thoughts, and your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

Peace be with you"
Frank Siringo, MD, OD of New York, NY

"Remembering Rob on this Memorial day 2011. Rob was one of the corporal cadre my freshman year at Norwich. He was the first cadet we met outside the 1-st sergeants room. Even in that environment Solts' stood out as someone special. A great example to follow, a great cadre.... Sorely missed but always remembered!"
Michael Matthews of Lancaster, NY

"I never want to forget the sacrifices of so many young men and women. I am so proud it makes me cry. I understand in theory only that war is a part of human nature but so is love and caring. I wish I could take the families pain away but I can't. I am committed to loving ALL people, myself and our environment. I am committed to working on my happiness everyday because so many have died for my freedom to live my life. Thank you is not enough but it is all I have. All my love and respect. ogersteiner@yahoo.com

Scott E. Steiner of Worthington, OH USA

"I was a patient of Dr. Soltes at the Garden Grove CA office. He was and always be a great, good hearted human being. I will never forget the day I went into his office and questioned why my appointment wasn't set with Dr. Soltes as usual...and that's when I got the horrible news. I will never forget that day. May your soul rest in peace Dr. Soltes. You will never be forgotten."
Virginia Velez of Fairview, TX

"Never a day goes by without memories of Rob and his family. He was more than proud to be a soldier, it was his life!"
Virginia Di Rosario of Boston, MA

"”Honor and Remember” - “Project Compassion” We love our Soldiers! We love our country and we cannot express enough love and compassion to the families of our fallen heroes. War does not discriminate – It breaks our hearts to see the faces of the fallen. We want to give this gift to you. We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization! Over 1,750 portraits have been completed and shipped to the parents and or spouse - at no cost as this is a gift from one American to another!
Contact us directly at Projectcompassion@manti.com or go to www.heropaintings.com . If you have already had a portrait completed, we pray that you are enjoying the portrait and God Bless You.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
Project Compassion - Kenna of Manti, Utah USA

"Sally, Ryan and Brandan: It is hard for me around Memorial day and 13 Oct not to think about MAJ Rob Soltes. I know that Rob left me a new sense of service and selflessness. I have yet to meet a soldier in the US Army that cared about his fellow soldiers more. Sally and the Boys just know that Rob is not forgotten and his life has changed and left a indelible mark on all that knew him. SFC Michael J. Trost, Ops NCO, 426th CA BN 2004-2005 Iraq"
Michael J. Trost of Knoxville, TN

I miss your confidence, calm demeanor, friendship and leadership. You were an inspiration to the troops and fellow soldiers who served with you. May we never forget the sacrifice you made for your family and this country. Essayons, Norwich 87

Tim Kalkus
426th CA BN
Task Force Freedom
Mosul, Iraq
Tim Kalkus of Hamsptead, UK

"I had the honor of serving with Maj Soltes. He understood me when others did not. He took a chance on me and I was never going to let him down. When I herd he had been killed a piece of me went with him. I will always remember him, and the sacrifice he and his family have made. And I hope I can one day live up to be half the person he was."
SPC Heather Marriner of Simi Valley, CA

"September 29, 2008
To the family of Maj. Charles R. Soltes, Jr.:
Charles gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Dear Sally & children,
Words cannot express the loss of a loved one.Our deepest sympathy to you and your family.
I will never forget your friendship and hospitality in your beautiful San Antonio home. We missed you all.
Love Gala's mom.(All of us)"
Fanya Grinshpan of San Antonio,TX

"Hi, Bro

I am here at work sitting next to a great guy. Out of the blue, I asked him if any of his close friends have died over there, and he mentioned Your name.

Of course, You knew him as one in an Army uniform (which he still serves), and I know him as a cop.

It is quite obvious, that You were well-liked, as well as well-respected by many.

May Your Soul Rest - In - Peace.

Semper Fi,
"Major Pain""
Maj M. B. Parlor of Los Angeles, CA

"My condolences to the family my heart and prayers.
Gigs from Las Vegas please contact me alavamaggie@yahoo.com"
Maggie of Redwood City, Ca

""It has been almost three years since Rob past away, and my missing him has not diminished one bit. We shared many experiences together: Norwich, rugby, mountain bike trips to Sedona, Arizona, cigars, the same birthday March 15, and many hangovers. I always looked forward to riding my motorcycle from Las Vegas to Irvine to assist him in setting up for a Norwich gathering (he was club president), being a part of his great family or just a time for comraderie. As a Marine radioman/grunt veteran of the Gulf War, I feel I missed an obligation to protect him from what harmed him. I know that it was impossible for me to have done so, but that is how I feel. I feel that Semper Fidelis was never fulfilled from my part of our friendship. Coinciding with his death, a close and dear friend from Norwich also, Jason Lange, passed away shortly before Rob did. I always thought that Rob never knew, but his wife, Sally, told he did find out from the Norwich pipeline. He was a fireman in San Bernardino. When we were together we were the three muskateers. Two of the biggest pieces of my heart are gone forever and I have not laughed like we used to ever since. As a kind of tribute to them and their successes in life, I have enrolled in the Norwich Graduate School Program to earn a Masters in Business Administration. I am doing my best to fulfill my promise to them I made in my prayers. Anyway, for those of you who have entered this website and read this, thanks for listening. These thoughts have been on my mind for a long time, and I have not been comfortable enough to talk about them with anyone. Semper Fidelis to you!""
Gigs of Las Vegas, NV

"I went to grade school and boy scouts with Rob. I brought my children to his memorial at RVS (On Memorial Day) and said a prayer for him and his family. There is not a day that I do not think of him. He will always be remembered."
Steve Onopa of Boonton Township, NJ

"We do not know if we are related to each other.My last name is also SOLTES from the Philippines.Since the time I read about your heroism i feel proud that i am a SOLTES.Condolences to all the loved ones of Maj. Charles Soltes, Jr.

Victor V. Soltes
Victor Soltes of Tanauan City Batangas,Philippines

"It has been over 2 years since your passing....it is hard to believe still that you will never bless us with your smile again- I think of you often and feel honored to have known you. Thank you for your friendship, your joy, your positive outlook, and especially for all you did and continue to do to enrich our lives. You are a true hero. I miss you."
Lisa M. Eriksson of Richmond, VT

"I was also a classmate of Robs. NU 90. He was a great guy and his loss is a loss to everyone. He will always be in my thoughts."
Ed Hartwell of Boston Mass

"To the family of:Charles R. Soltes,Jr. I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015. Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga"

"I had the honor of serving with Rob Soltes. He is as fine a man as I have ever met. I will always remember him and the sacrifice he made. I think of him often, especially today, October 13th, and I pray for the well being of Sally and the children. With warmest regards,"
Brian Kenna of Newport Beach, CA

"I salute you!"
Angela Turman of Fort Worth, Texas

We never met you or Rob, but our son is a student at Norwich, and on our first Parent's Weekend in 2004 we experienced Echo Taps in Rob's honor. Unfortunately we also mourned the death of Lt. Mark Dooley the next Parent's Weekend in 2005.

We might not agree with the war or our reasons for being there, but with everything that's been written we feel we know Rob and Mark and value their contribution to our country. They have had an impact on Justin and we want you to know how much we care about you."
Steve & Claire Knepp of Pottstown PA

"Thinking about you - 11-11-05."

"Dear Sally & children,
Words cannot express the loss of a loved one. My deepest sympathy to you and your family.

As you may recall, I had the privilege of serving with Dr. Soltes at BAMC optometry clinic. He was such a great mentor and teacher, that his encouragement was the drive I needed to fulfill my dream of attending college once I separated from the military a couple of years ago.

Since Dr. Soltes was such an inspiration to all, I completed college and have since gone on to optometry school. He always said that I had what it took, and thanks to him I believed in him and will complete this venture in 2009.

Sally, you and your children will always be in our prayers. God Bless you all.

Jose A Payan of Houston, Texas

"I had the privilege to serve with Maj Soltes in Iraq as well as at the unit. He was a great man who believed in the mission and his people. He will be missed very much by all."
Natt Narkthong of Los Angeles, CA

"I served with Maj. Soltes in Iraq. I am glad I had the pleasure to serve with him, and be one of his soldiers. He was a great soldier and leader. I can truly say he was a genuine person. I will never forget my Commander Maj. Charles " ROB" Soltes. "SINE PARI""
Eddie Torres of FT. Bragg NC

"I was in Rob's graduating class of 1986 at Morris Catholic HS in New Jersey. Although it's been almost 20 years, even back then I could tell that he was grounded, knowing who he was and where he wanted to go in life. After graduating from college I also served in the U.S. Army (1992-95). After reading his biography, I was impressed at what a great leader, mentor and friend he was to the people he met and touched throughout his life. His entire family is in my family's thoughts and prayers."
Robert M. Miller of Cleveland, Ohio

"I went to Norwich with Rob (Class of '90) and am proud to say that we were friends. Although we lost touch after graduation, I was deeply saddened when I heard the news. He was a great guy, selfless and always helping others in college and I can see that those traits never left him. My heart felt wishes goes out to his family."
David Meagher NU Class of '90 of Boston, MA

"I was honored to know MAJ Soltes "Rob" for a year in Korea...he was a friend and a good person. I pray his family will be able to find peace and love from their memories of Rob-God Bless You"
Richard Cichy of Germany

"I remember Rob Soltes when he was in Bravo Company at Nowich University Corps of Cadets. From this member of Class of 1992, my sincere condolences."
Christopher D. Carbajal of Orange County, California

"Sally,Ryan, Brandon, Nancy, Chuck, Jeff, Carolyn, and Mary
Robbie touched our lives, and will continue to live on in the most sacred of places... Our hearts. He will never be forgotten."
Janna of Denville, NJ

"Major Soltes, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"Dear Sally, Ryan, and Brandan,

Words can not ease the loss of your husband and father. I do need to tell you what a huge impact Rob had on the lives of so many people. I had the pleasure of meeting Rob during his time at Norwich and have the opportunity to rekindle my friendship with him in 2001 while stationed at Camp Pendleton, when I joined the SoCal NU Alumni chapter. Rob, and your entire family, took time out of your busy lives to coordinate numerous functions and invite the Norwich family into your home and lives. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get to know all of you a little better and to realize how lucky I am to have friends such as you. Rob made the ultimate sarafice, for this nation and the world, that we may all some day live in peace. Rob will live on in all those whose lives he touched. Love and God bless.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Soltes,

They say there is no name for a parent who has lost a child, as the pain is to great. I do not have to recount all of Rob's many fantastic accomplishments during his thirty-six years with us, or the nobility of the higher calling he felt to serve his country. I can only hope to live up to the standard that he has set for all of us. Rob is a true patriot and will never be forgotten.

Very Respectfully,"
Chris Steinhilber of New Orleans, LA

"To Rob's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.


The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX

"To the family and friends of Charles Soltes - I did not know this man. My brother-in-law, LtC Mark P. Phelan, was killed in the same explosion. We have a special bond with this family as Charles was the last person to see or talk to Mark. We share your grief. May these two brave men rest in peace. God Bless each and every one of you."
Bonita Klitsch of Breinigsville, PA, USA

"rob and I went to college together, let me just say that he was a true friend and showed early on that he was a leader. I'm sure the men over there with him would attest to this. Rob thank you for everything you did for me and your country, we are gratefull. I hope some day your boys can see how great of a person their dad was by seeing the sorrow greated by his loss.--essayons."
todd pierce of massachusetts

"I have very fond memories of growing up with Robbie in our little neighborhood in NJ. We spent many days and nights all through childhood doing the things kids do, all without any worries because of brave soldiers like Robbie. I wish to thank him with all my heart for the sacrifice he gave to ensure my son will be able to grow up and do the things that kids do as well...Lets keep those memories of the hockey games on the Soltes's pond, the treehouse and all the other things we did as kids close to our hearts. Rob has helped to make a better life for all of us, and I will never forget that."
Alan Sheplak of Venice, Florida

"To the Family and Friends of Rob Soltes Please know that Our LOVE & PRAYERS are with all of you..We are very deeply saddened for your loss. We all thank you Rob for your strength and courage you gave for our freedom. Eventhough your journey here was way too short, know that now you will live forever in eternity!!"
Lisa & Nic Sybesma of Mission Viejo, CA USA

Please KNOW so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Charles, will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"To Charles' Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time"
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"My deepest sympathy, our family has also suffered the loss of a precious life in this battle for freedom. May God bless you and help you through this time. Forever in our hearts a HERO Charles R. Soltes, Jr."
Amy & Aaron Monier of Waterford, MI.

"Rob was the college classmate of a friend of mine. He was true to his friends & to himself & was a wonderful person. My sympathies to his family. Please know you are in my prayers"
Laurie Carwile of Ft. Benning, GA

"Thank you Charles Soltes, Jr., you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Maj. Charles Soltes, Jr.:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Charles for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Maj. Charles Soltes, Jr.:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Charles, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on