Remains of Staff Sgt. Timothy Manchester, who died Jan. 20 in Kuwait, escorted back home

By Raiza Giorgi

The remains of Staff Sgt. Timothy Manchester of Buellton, were escorted from Vandenberg Air Force Base to the Loper Chapel in Ballard. Photo by Raiza Giorgi

After more than two days of constant rain, the clouds parted and the sun shone through casting rainbows around the Santa Ynez Valley. This happened just moments before the processional came through carrying the remains of valley native Timothy Manchester. 

Texas Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester passed away Jan. 20 in Kuwait. He was born December 30, 1986, in Lompoc, and grew up in Buellton. 

Manchester, 34, died at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident that officials say remains under investigation. No details about his cause of death were released.

Photo by Raiza Giorgi

“This is what this valley does, we show our support for someone that gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Solvang Mayor Charlie Uhrig before the caravan of the Manchester family and military officials drove by the Solvang Veteran’s Memorial Hall. “The Manchester family was apart of the valley community for a long time and this is how we can show our appreciation for them and Tim. I am so grateful for everyone who came out.” 

More than 50 people lined the street waving American flags and the Santa Barbara County Fire Department hung a giant American flag on its ladder truck over Highway 246. 

“Thank you for your committment, service and honor. Your country and home town community appreciate you. #neverforgotton Condolences to the Manchester family,” said Danielle Ripley on the Star social media. 

Manchester went to Jonata Elementary and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, where he played baseball and ran cross country. His father Tim Manchester was the former pastor of Crossroads Church in Buellton, where another crowd of people stood waving flags as the caravan entered the valley from Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester Photo contributed by the Texas Military Department

“His dad served our valley and he served our country,” wrote Crossroads Pastor Sam Kiser. “He grew up on the parsonage on the church grounds. After the motorcade passed by God blessed us with a double rainbow. Continue to pray peace for this family we love dearly.” 

Baseball was Manchester’s true love and he dreamed of coaching one day, according to his family members.

“We as a Pirate family mourn the loss of alumnus Tim Manchester, who passed away while serving his country in Kuwait. All of our prayers go out to the Manchester family,” the Pirates Baseball page said.

Pirates Baseball Coach Warren Dickey was in attendance at the processional and said while Manchester graduated before he took over the program, he knew of his athletic record and that Manchester coached baseball to kids while serving. 

Manchester enlisted in the Marines immediately after graduating high school in 2005 and served for nearly a decade as a Middle East cryptologic linguist. Manchester attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and became fluent in Arabic. 

He served on two deployments to Iraq, first in 2008 and again in 2009. He went on to serve in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, during the tumultuous revolution in 2011.

He joined the Texas Army National Guard in April 2018 in the rank of Staff Sergeant with the 636th Military Intelligence Battalion as a cryptologic linguist and transferred to the 36th Infantry Division HHBN who deployed him to Kuwait in October 2020 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Spartan Shield).

His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Posthumous; two Joint Service Commendation Medals; five Army Commendation Medals; three Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medals; Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal; Meritorious Unit Commendation (Navy); two Army Good Conduct Medal; Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal, Posthumous; National Defense Service Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Armed Forces Service Medal w/M device, Posthumous; Army Service Ribbon; two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Overseas Service Bar (indicates the recipient has served six months overseas in a theater of war); Texas Outstanding Service Medal and the Texas Federal Service Medal.

Manchester is survived by his parents Timothy and Cheryl Manchester, his siblings Jon Paul, Caleb and Laura Manchester, and his nephews Quinn and Tristan Cook.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no funeral service. However, he did receive a dignified transfer from Vandenberg Air Force Base to Santa Ynez Valley on Friday, Jan. 29. 

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Santa Ynez Pony Baseball league that Manchester grew up playing in and loved so much.

Military Times Staff Reporter Kyle Rempfer contributed to this story.