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Army Staff Sgt. Robb L. Rolfing

Died June 30, 2007 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

29, of Sioux Falls, S.D.; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colo.; died June 30 in Baghdad of wounds sustained from enemy small-arms fire.

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Vassar graduate dies in Iraq

By Dennis Gale

The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Robb Rolfing had wanted to be a soldier since he was a little kid. And when the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, spurred the Vassar graduate 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 June 30, 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 July 2.

Five other Fort Carson soldiers died in Iraq this past week when their patrol was ambushed by insurgents, marking the post’s largest death toll in a single incident. Rolfing was the 213th soldier from the post to die in the war, but only the third in the 10th Special Forces Group.

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.

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.

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Governor requests flags at half-staff for fallen soldier

The Associated Press

PIERRE, S.D. — Gov. Mike Rounds has requested that all flags in the state be flown at half-staff July 10 in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Robb Rolfing of Sioux Falls, who died last week in Iraq.

Rolfing’s funeral will be held July 10 at the Sioux Falls Arena.

The 29-year-old Special Forces engineer died of wounds from enemy small-arms fire last June 30 in Baghdad.

“Staff Sgt. Rolfing paid the ultimate price in defending our nation,” Rounds said in a release. “He represents what is best about the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States and put their lives on the line so we can enjoy freedom. This is a tragic reminder of the sacrifice that comes with that freedom. Our hearts go out to his friends and family, and I ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.”

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Community honors Staff Sgt. Robb Rolfing

By Charles Pulliam

The Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Staff Sgt. Robb L. Rolfing of Sioux Falls, shot and killed late last month while leading his unit into an insurgent compound in Iraq, was laid to rest in his hometown on July 10.

Rolfing, 29, was in the U.S. Army Special Forces out of Fort Carson, Colo., and was deployed in March on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

He died June 30 in al-Dora, a neighborhood in southern Iraq from wounds sustained from small-arms fire while leading his unit into an insurgent compound.

“This young man answered the call,” Gov. Mike Rounds said July 10 during Rolfing’s funeral service at the Sioux Falls Arena. “He answered it for all of us.”

Sen. John Thune also spoke at the service. He said Rolfing was living a life of purpose and was the “best of the best.”

Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin also spoke. Former Rep. Bill Janklow, Mayor Dave Munson and more than 1,000 others attended.

Army Lt. Col. Rick Steiner, deputy commander of Rolfing’s 10th Special Forces Group, relayed a message from Rolfing’s supervisor, Master Sgt. Tommy Myers, saying Rolfing “was a warrior, was a hero and an exemplary Green Beret. He was one of us.”

His parents, Rex and Margie Rolfing, were presented with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star during the service.

Nearly 100 motorcycles with the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Rolfing’s body and the members of his Special Forces unit served as pallbearers. He was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery with full military honors.

Rolfing had wanted to join the Army since childhood. Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he was driven to enlist. He completed his basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., and was deployed on his first tour in Iraq with 101st Airborne. After returning, he went to Special Forces school, undergoing an intense year and a half of training to became a member of the elite Green Berets.

Rolfing graduated from O’Gorman High School in Sioux Falls and played soccer at Vassar College in New York.

In 1999, Rolfing led the Vassar Brewers soccer team to its first NCAA postseason tournament berth in school history — a first in any sport at Vassar.

“His transformation as a player and a person over the next three years was amazing,” said Chris Parsons, Rolfing’s soccer coach. “A skinny, long-haired Robb grew up into a man with a chiseled body and clean, shaven head.”

“Robb was utterly, completely committed to the cause” in everything he did, Parsons said.

Rolfing graduated from Vassar with a bachelor’s degree in astronomy and physics in 2000.

His cousin, Ryan Flohrs, called Rolfing a “goofball extraordinaire.” Rolfing was passionate in all that he did, though, Flohrs added.

“Robb loved karaoke, but boy, was he a terrible singer,” he said. “Now that’s passion.”

“He was the brother that I never had,” he said. “Just being with Robb was the memorable part.”

Rolfing family’s was out for dinner June 29 at a Sioux Falls restaurant and passed by a sculpture of an angel holding a fallen soldier. Looking back, family members said, with the time difference, it was at that moment Robb Rolfing died.




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