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Contractor from Stafford dies in Afghan blast

Dying alongside American troops in Afghanistan are civilian contractors who also work in the country’s most dangerous spots.

The family of Angel Roldan Jr. of Stafford County found out last week that he had been killed May 16 in an explosion in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, along with three other DynCorp International employees.

One of Roldan’s sons, Angel R. Roldan, who lives in Stafford, said Thursday that his father died doing what he loved and was providing for his family, though the elder Roldan was away from home for long periods of time.

A DynCorp executive called Roldan’s wife, Lieselotte, with the news shortly after it happened, “and she called me a minute or two afterward,” Angel Roldan said. “It’s been very rough,” for the family, he said, with their father spending a year or more at a time overseas during the past 10 years. “We’re still in a state of shock.”

They knew it was dangerous work. “It was almost like rolling the dice. You didn’t know if, or when” something would happen, he said.

Roldan last talked to his father a couple of weeks ago, though his mother, he says, spoke to him every other day.

While he knew the risks, “He was taking care of his family and his wife, so they could retire without having to worry about bills. And he enjoyed it. That was his thing. It gave him a sense of honor, being able to support [people] over there.”

Roldan had been in Afghanistan for more than a year, came back for a couple of weeks around Christmas, and was planning to return in September, but wanted to continue working for a few more years, his son said.

Roldan’s daughter, Samantha, also lives in Stafford. Another brother, Matthias P. Roldan, lives in South Carolina.

DynCorp, a global government-services provider, issued a statement saying four employees who were working on the Combined Security Transition Command–Afghanistan, were killed in an explosion. It said three others sustained minor injuries.

The statement, which did not name those involved, said the company “extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.”

DynCorp said the CSTC-A contract provides mentors and trainers to the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

While the deaths of U.S. troops are released by the Defense Department, those of contractors, who perform many types of support services in the war zone, are less visible. The numbers are harder to track, due to privacy concerns, and the companies involved often do not release the names of those killed.

In a story in February 2012, The New York Times reported that military contractors were increasingly at risk from attacks from insurgents in Afghanistan, and that more American contractors (430) than troops (418) died in 2011.

According to the family, Roldan, 62, had more than 40 years’ service in the military, government and as a defense contractor employee.

Born in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, he joined the Army in 1969 as a Morse code interceptor with the Army Security Agency, and qualified for Army Special Forces.

He spent most of his special forces career with the 10th Special Forces Group in Bad Tolz, Germany, and with the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg, N.C. He worked as a team chief in communications, weapons and intelligence, earned a master parachutist badge and was an expert marksman.

According to family members, he lived by the Special Forces motto: De Opresso Liber, meaning, “Free the Oppressed.”

Roldan retired from Special Forces in 1992, then worked in senior roles for multiple government agencies and civilian contractors, including the Drug Enforcement Agency, Department of State and Worldwide Protective Services. He worked as a government contractor for more than 10 years on assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan, helping to train thousands of foreign soldiers.

A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. June 4 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431

rdennen@freelancestar.com

 

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