A Texas National Guard soldier with ties to the Santa Ynez Valley died in Kuwait earlier this month, and his remains will return to the Central Coast.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester, 34, of Austin, Texas, died Jan. 20, 2021, in Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident, according to a Department of Defense statement released Jan. 22.

“We are devastated by the loss of one of our own,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, the adjutant general for Texas in a written statement released by the Texas Military Department. “In this profession, we always know in the back of our mind that this is a possibility, but we hope it never comes to pass. 

“The entire Texas Military Department sends our deepest condolences to Staff Sgt. Manchester’s family and loved ones he leaves behind. We are also keeping his fellow service members in our thoughts and prayers who are still overseas mourning the loss of their brother in arms,” Norris added.

The circumstances surrounding Manchester’s death remain under investigation, military officials said. 

Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester

Staff Sgt. Timothy Luke Manchester (Contributed photo)

Manchester was supporting Operation Spartan Shield.

The non-commissioned officer was assigned to the 36th Infantry Division with the Texas Army National Guard.

Manchester deployed with the 36th Infantry Division in September 2020, according to Texas officials

The Texas Army National Guard’s 36th Infantry Division has more than 600 soldiers deployed for 10 months in Kuwait to provide leadership, command, control, and in-depth staff analysis for Operation Spartan Shield, according to the Army.

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Manchester joined the Texas Army National Guard in 2018.

He worked as an Arabic linguist, and did a stint at the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and continued in that career when he joined the National Guard.

During his time serving in the military, Manchester earned a number of medals.

After a dignified transfer ceremony at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Manchester’s remains will return to the Santa Ynez Valley on Friday, according to the Santa Ynez Valley Star.

Those wishing to pay their respects were set to gather near the Solvang Veterans Memorial Building on Highway 246, with the drive expected to happen between 2 and 2:30 p.m., according the Star.

However, an update from the Star indicated the flight had been delayed, and the earliest the procession would leave Vandenberg was 4 p.m.

Manchester grew up in the Santa Ynez Valley, attending Jonata Elementary School and Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, according to the Star. 

His death was noted by the Santa Ynez Valley Pirates Baseball group on social media.

“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.

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

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Santa Ynez Pony Baseball league, with donations mailed to Santa Ynez Valley Pony Baseball, P.O. Box 1228, Santa Ynez, CA 93460.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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Janene Scully | Noozhawk North County Editor

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com.