By Elizabeth Marie Himchak
A 2001 Rancho Bernardo High alumnus died in Afghanistan Saturday during his 14th deployment in the war on terror.
Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer Bryan Domeij, 29, was killed with two other soldiers during combat operations in the Kandahar Province when their assault force triggered an improvised explosive device, according to a military press release.
He was a Ranger Joint Terminal Attack Controller assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Survivors include wife Sarah and daughters Mikajsa and Aaliyah of Lacey, Wash.; mother Scoti Domeij of Colorado Springs, Colo. and brother Kyle Domeij of San Diego.
Rancho Bernardo High Principal Paul Robinson called Domeij a “fun-loving young man, a real fine football player who also played roller hockey."
“He was just a good kid,” Robinson said, who was an RB High assistant principal when Domeij was a student.
Domeij’s honors included being named to the first team, all Palomar League as an offensive lineman during his senior year.
Robinson said this is the first Rancho Bernardo High graduate he knows of to die in combat operations since the war began a decade ago. To honor Domeij’s service, on Monday the school had a moment of silence during morning announcements.
“Then we honored him by saying the Pledge of Allegiance,” Robinson said, adding Domeij died for “liberty and justice for all,” the pledge’s final line.
Domeij joined the Army a month after his high school graduation. Following Basic Combat Training and Fire Support Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Okla., he completed the Basic Airborne Course and was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning, Ga.
He has been with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment since 2002 with various assignments. This included being one of the first Army qualified Joint Terminal Attack Controller-Evaluator, a training usually for those in the Air Force, according to military officials.
“Sgt. 1st Class Domeij was the prototypical special operations NCO — a technically and tactically competent Joint Terminal Attack Controller and veteran of a decade of deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan and hundreds of combat missions,” said Col. Mark W. Odom, 75th Ranger Regiment’s commander.
“His ability to employ fire support platforms made him a game changer on the battlefield — an operator who in real terms had the value of an entire strike force on the battlefield,” Odom said.
“(He) will be dearly missed by the men of 2nd Ranger Battalion,” said Lt. Col. David Hodne, the battalion’s commander. “He was one of those men who as known by all as much for his humor, enthusiasm and loyal friendship, as he was for his unparalleled skill and bravery under fire.
“This was a Ranger you wanted at your side when the chips were down,” Hodne said. “He and his family are very much part of the fabric that defines 2nd Ranger Battalion. He is irreplaceable ... in our formation ... and in our hearts.”
This is the second local serving with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment killed in combat. The other was Army Sgt. 1st Class David McDowell, a 1996 Poway High alumnus killed in action in 2008.
During Domeij’s decade in the Army he received many awards and decorations. These included the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Joint Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with three loops, National Defense Service Medal and medals associated with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other overseas locations.
Posthumously he will receive another Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart and Meritorious Service Medal.