Parents of fallen Simi Valley soldier describe him as loving, dedicated and passionate

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- The Simi Valley family of a U.S. Special Forces soldier who died from injuries he sustained in Afghanistan spoke out Monday.

"They don't show up on your doorstep in their blues just for a cup of coffee," Joe Cribben said.

Joe and Leslie Cribben described what it was like when U.S. Army officials came to their home over the weekend and informed them of the death of their oldest child and only son.

Sgt. 1st Class Stephen Cribben was 33 years old. The Army said he was killed during a combat operation on Saturday in Afghanistan. He was a Green Beret in Special Forces and served 15 years.

The Royal High School graduate joined the military soon after graduating. He was in Afghanistan to teach locals how to better defend themselves.

"He's what we would call a sheep dog. He's there to protect. He's there to watch over the flock and to help. He loved teaching," Joe Cribben said.

Their son was married with two sons of his own, ages 5 and 3.

"He has both the compassionate side and the loving side and he's got the warrior side. I was amazed that he could meld those two," his father said.

The Cribbens said their son's plan was to serve 20 years in the U.S. Army, then retire and pursue an ROTC career at a university to get his college education. The family received calls from the Army about arrangements to bring their son home.

They, along with their son's widow, leave tomorrow for the East Coast to receive his body for burial.

"I keep saying this and I truly believe it. His heart was bigger than the nation he served and loved and protected," Leslie Cribben said.
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