Major Charles "Rob" Soltes Jr. was born March 15, 1968 in Fort Wolters, Texas. He attended elementary school and high school in Denville, New Jersey. Rob enrolled at Norwich University in Vermont, where he played rugby, was on the Mountain Cold Weather Team, Ranger Challenge Team and Cadet Corps Honor Committee. Rob graduated in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He received his doctorate in Optometry from the New England College of Optometry in 1994. While there he met his wife, Sally. They were married in 1994. After joining the Army in 1990, he served on active duty as an optometrist from 1994 to 1999 in Texas; South Korea and at West Point. In 1999 the Soltes family moved to Irvine. Rob continued to serve in the Army Reserves. In civilian life, Rob and Sally worked together as optometrists as the owners of Pacific Optometry Group in Garden Grove and Westminster. Rob was member of the Lions Club, the American Optometric Association and served on the board of California Optometric Association. In his Irvine community, Rob was known as a personable neighbor who tended steaks on the barbecue on the weekends, enjoyed highly strenuous mountain bike rides and spending time with his family. In February, 2004 Rob joined the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion and served as a preventive medical officer. He was deployed to Iraq in August 2004 where he helped re-build hospitals as the commander of a public-health team. He was excited and proud to be part of the humanitarian effort. He died on October 13, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq, when a suicide bomber drove into his convoy vehicle.
Rob’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Orion Medal, Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star.