The life of a fallen soldier is being celebrated this week.
Spc. Rob Nichols, 24, was killed in action on July 23 while serving in Afghanistan. He and two other soldiers lost their lives after their convoy was attacked.
Nichols grew up in Colorado, graduating from Sand Creek High School in Colorado Springs in 2007. His mother, brother and stepfather all still reside in the Springs, while his father lives in the Denver area.
During his three years in the Army, his family says Nichols deployed overseas twice. He was assigned to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Ga. The Army says Nichols has been awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart posthumously.
Wednesday, Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered flags to be lowered half-staff across the state in Nichols' honor.
Nichols' family remembers him as a natural-born leader with a vivacious and caring spirit. They told 11 News that since his untimely death, there has been an outpouring of messages from his fellow soldiers expressing what a special person he was.
"It’s an honor getting these letters and pictures from these kids...it brings comfort," mother Donna Ribisi told 11 News. She recounted how her son's home was always bursting with hungry soldiers he had brought over for dinner; how he would then call her for recipes so that he could feed everyone.
"A soldier would walk by and he'd say, 'Come here, I’m making dinner, you want some?' Another soldier walked by and he'd say, 'Are you hungry?' Before he knew it he had a room full of guys,” Ribisi recalled.
"He was always putting somebody else first and then taking care of himself,” stepfather Bob Ribisi said.
The family is holding a visitation from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Shrine of Remembrance on 1730 E. Fountain Blvd in Colorado Springs. A private rosary will be held Friday, followed by a public funeral Saturday at 10 a.m. That will be held at Holy Apostles Catholic Church on 4925 N. Carefree Circle in Colorado Springs, followed by a reception at The American Legion, Centennial Post 209, where he was a member. The American Legion is located on Jeannine Drive in Colorado Springs.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, a donation be made to the Wounded Warrior Foundation in his name.