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Marine Cpl. Dave M. Santos

Died July 16, 2010 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

21, of Rota, Marianas Islands of the Pacific; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died July 16 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Family seeks answers in corporal’s death

By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno

Pacific Daily News

ROTA, Northern Mariana Islands — As the father of a Marine in a war zone, David Mundo Santos’ heart sank when he saw a pair of unexpected visitors walk up to his front door.

A Marine major in full uniform, accompanied by a priest, visited his Rota home.

“I saw them walking from their car, and I knew something was not right,” David Santos said.

The visit was to let the Santos family know that his son, Cpl. Dave Michael Santos, 21, was killed in Afghanistan.

A fellow Marine is accused of killing Santos, his father said.

According to David Santos, a military representative tasked to officially notify the family of his son’s death said Dave Santos allegedly was stabbed by a fellow Marine.

“And that’s the hardest to accept — I thought the enemy would cause the hurt,” David Santos said. “It was devastating to know it was a fellow Marine.”

Dave Santos was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. Representatives at Lejeune couldn’t be reached for comment July 18.

David Santos said he was told his son was preparing for duty when he was stabbed July 16 in Afghanistan. The circumstances of the attack, and what motivated it, are some of the questions that Santos’ relatives say they would like answered.

Northern Mariana Lt. Gov. Eloy Inos told the Saipan Tribune on July 19 that the islands’ government wants the military to do “a full investigation of the situation. … Hopefully that will bring closure to this.”

In announcing Dave Santos’ death on July 19, the Defense Department said that the death was under investigation.

Second tragedy

David Santos said when the chaplain and a military representative walked into his home July 16, it felt like a scene tragically reminiscent of his oldest sister’s experience just a few years ago.

His sister’s second-oldest child became the first Rota resident killed in the war on terror.

Army Cpl. Joe G. Charfauros Jr., 33, was among 14 American soldiers killed in a single day in Iraq on June 20, 2007, according to Pacific Daily News files.

“My oldest sister’s son, he was the first from our island,” David Santos said.

He said his son “is our second one from the island.”

Dave Santos is the 36th person from the Micronesia region to die while deployed overseas in the war on terror since 2003, according to Pacific Daily News files. The Northern Mariana Islands, considered part of the Micronesia region, are located in the South Pacific, north of Guam.

Dave Santos was the oldest child of David Santos and Bella Maratita. He was the oldest brother to two sisters and a brother.

Dave Santos joined the Marines after graduating in 2007 from Rota High School. His participation in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps inspired him to enlist in the military, his father said.

“He always wanted to be a Marine,” David Santos said. “He really, really wanted to be a Marine.”

David Santos said his son was also inspired to join because generations of family members on his side had served in the military.

“He had the love of being a Marine,” David Santos said.

Young family

Dave Santos married a local girl, Lotty Anne Santos, and together they were starting a family. The couple has a toddler, Anthony David Santos.

“He has a 3-year-old boy,” David Santos said.

David Santos said his son last visited Rota last year, and he spoke to his son by phone just last week. In that phone conversation, David Santos said there was no hint of his son being worried about anything while in Afghanistan.

“He was talking about life there. He’s been there for a month only and was supposed to be there for 10 months or a year,” David Santos said. “He never talked about fear — about being afraid.”

While waiting for answers, David Santos’ family is making preparations for their son’s return to his small island, where he will be laid to rest.

“We will bring Dave home,” David Santos said.

Outpouring of support keeps father going

By Dionesis Tamondong

Pacific Daily News

Since news of his son’s violent death spread, David Mundo Santos has been receiving messages of condolences and support from across the globe.

The phone calls — some from people he never met — has helped him and his family to cope with the death of his son, Marine Cpl. Dave Michael Santos, 21, who was fatally stabbed July 16 in Afghanistan.

David Santos said his family is still waiting for more details of the attack, including the circumstances and motivation behind the stabbing.

“These phone calls from people who knew him — that’s what’s helping to keep me going,” David Santos said from Rota.

Dave Santos’ body will arrive on Guam about 1 a.m. July 28, David Santos said. A special viewing will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at Ada’s Funeral Home in Sinajana.

The casket will be escorted by Marines to Rota, where the funeral will be held July 29, Santos said.

Dave Santos is the 36th person from the Micronesia region to die overseas in the war on terror since 2003, according to Pacific Daily News files.

He was deployed from his base unit at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He is survived by his wife, Lotty Anne Santos, and their 3-year-old boy.

“His son has been asking for his daddy, and sometimes words just can’t come out of my mouth,” David Santos said.

“It’s all so devastating.”

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