Our motto, "I will try," has influenced my life continuously since the day I left Norwich. Every time someone asks me "if I can do it" or "can you help me," my response is, "I will try." This is usually not my planned response, but after hearing the words leave my mouth, I am reminded once again of where those words came from...where I came from. And then, momentarily, my thoughts are 3,000 miles away on a hill in Northfield, Vermont. ~ Rob Soltes '90

Robert Soltes in 1990Norwich alumnus killed in Iraq

The Norwich community is still reeling from the shock of its first alumnus death in Iraq.

MAJ Charles Robert Soltes, USAR, Class of 1990, was killed in Mosul, Iraq, October 13, 2004, when an explosive device struck his convoy as it returned from a local hospital. Another U.S. soldier was killed and five more were wounded in the attack.

An optometrist in civilian life, Dr. Soltes was working as a preventive health specialist with the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Upland, California. Deployed in August, the 36-year-old father of two had been in Iraq less than two weeks.

Norwich President Richard W. Schneider, upon hearing the sad news, expressed what many in the Norwich community were feeling. "All of us in the Norwich family, whether we knew Rob personally or not, grieve over the loss of one of our own," said Schneider. "Please keep Rob's family in your thoughts and prayers throughout this difficult time, and pray for the safe return of all those who are serving our nation overseas."

A biology major and president of his class while at Norwich, Rob was a member of the Corps Honor Committee, the Ring Committee, and Mountain Cold Weather, and was active in the Rugby Club and Ranger Challenge. Upon graduation, Rob joined the Army Reserve and served on active duty from July 1994 to September 1999. He was later assigned to the 7214th Medical Support Unit in Garden Grove with the Reserves.

A 1994 graduate of the New England College of Optometry in Boston, Dr. Soltes entered the U.S. Army Medical Corps that same year, and provided eye care services to servicemen and women in Texas, The Republic of Korea, and at the United States Military Academy at West Point. During his military service, Dr. Soltes completed a residency at the prestigious Brooke Army Medical Center, and earned adjunct faculty appointments at the University of Houston College of Optometry, and the State University of New York College of Optometry. At West Point, Dr. Soltes served as Director of the Optometry Residency Program.

In 1998, Dr. Soltes earned his fellowship in the American Academy of Optometry, and upon the completion of his military duties, he became the clinical director at Irvine Vision Institute. He and his wife, Dr. Sally Huong Dang, shared an optometry practice in Garden Grove and Westminster, California. Their third child is due in December.

A devoted Norwich alumnus, Rob was serving as president of the NU Club of Southern California at the time of his deployment.

Corps of Cadets observes a moment of silenceThe devastating news came last week as the University community was preparing for the arrival of 2000 parents and family members for Parent and Family Weekend. Although the full slate of events took place as planned, the celebratory atmosphere was somewhat subdued, as the thoughts of many in the Norwich family were with Rob's family.

At Friday's parade to welcome the families of Norwich students to campus, President Schneider made a brief reference to Dr. Soltes' death and asked that the assembled crowd pause for a moment of silence. Dr. Schneider and David Whaley, vice president for institutional advancement, will represent Norwich at Dr. Soltes' funeral service on Friday, October 22, 2004.

dweggler@norwich.edu, October 2004


The Corps of Cadets will pay tribute to Dr. Soltes with a ceremony on the Upper Parade Ground on Thursday evening, beginning at 11:00 p.m. To commemorate his life and honor his service to Norwich University, the Corps of Cadets, and his country, three rifle volleys will be fired by the Drill Team, followed by Echo Taps. In addition, President Schneider has directed that all campus flags fly at half mast on Friday, October 22.

Norwich University will hold a Memorial Service for the deceased in White Chapel on Wednesday, October 27, 2004, from 12:00-12:30 p.m..

Memorial Gifts can be sent to: Norwich University - Rob Soltes '90 Scholarship, c/o Advancement Office, Norwich University, 158 Harmon Drive, Northfield, VT 05663, or anyone wishing to make a memorial donation may contact the Advancement Office at 802.485.2300 or advancement@norwich.edu.

For more information, please contact Tony Venti, director of public affairs, at 802.485.2080 or aventi@norwich.edu.

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