A civilian polygrapher with the Air Force who lived in Waldorf was killed after a mortar attack in Iraq, military officials said yesterday.
Rick A. Ulbright, 49, had retired from active duty with the Air Force and was working with the 33rd Field Investigative Squadron based at Andrews Air Force Base, authorities said. He died Sunday at the Kirkuk Air Base in Iraq from wounds suffered in the attack, authorities said.
Ulbright was the first member of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to be killed in Iraq, said Capt. Regen Wilson, a spokesman for the office. It's the first combat death for the office since 1997 and the fourth in the history of the office, he said. A private service is scheduled for this morning in a chapel at Andrews Air Force Base.
"It is definitely an unfortunate development and a bit of a shock," Wilson said. "It's caught us all off-guard."
At Ulbright's two-story white home in the Huntington neighborhood in Waldorf, where he lived with his wife, Karen, a relative declined to comment about him. Several people were gathered at the home yesterday evening.
His neighbors in the leafy cul-de-sac described Ulbright as friendly but quiet, a man who traveled often and, when he was home, tended to stay in the house. They said he had two grown daughters. He had been in Iraq for about two months, they said, and was planning to come home in early September.
Tim Burkhart, 39, who lives next door, said he would see Ulbright mowing his lawn on warm weekend afternoons, driving up in his truck or sitting by his backyard swimming pool. They would often share a few words over the fence as their dogs yapped at each other below.
"Rick was a very nice guy; that's why it's such a shock," Burkhart said. "He was an outstanding person."
Burkhart, who retired from the Navy, said several other retired members of the military live in the neighborhood, so the death of Ulbright hit home.
"We all kind of think, if you're going to go, it's while you're" on active duty, he said. "He's retired; this is supposed to be the bread and gravy years. The only thing you've got to worry about is getting in a car accident. Not getting mortared by some enemy."