Another son of the CNMI, U.S. Marine Corporal Dave Michael Santos, was killed Friday in Afghanistan where he was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was allegedly stabbed and killed by a fellow Marine. He was 21.
His family on Rota was shocked to learn that a fellow Marine would end the life of their eldest child.
“He’s loved by many. He’s a great kid, a wonderful son, and I will miss him forever,” his father, Rota resident David M. Santos, told Saipan Tribune in a phone interview yesterday afternoon.
The soldier’s adoptive mother, Bella Maratita, said Dave Michael Santos was a “very loving son.”
“He loves me very much and I love him very much. I will miss him,” she added.
‘Justice for our son’
Dave Michael Santos’ death, which happened about a month after his redeployment to Afghanistan, is still under investigation.
His father said preliminary information relayed to them was that Dave Michael Santos was stabbed by a fellow Marine on the left side of his neck around 2am in Marjeh, Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He passed away some two hours later.
His family on Rota received the information from the military around 10pm Friday night in the CNMI.
The family wants justice for Dave Michael Santos.
“As a father, I don’t have any hatred toward anyone, even to God, I just want the truth and justice to be served, for closure,” the father said, adding that it is hard to grasp that his son’s fellow Marine would be the cause of his passing.
Dave Michael Santos left behind a wife, Lotty Ann A. Santos, and their 3-year-old son, Anthony David Santos.
‘To be buried on Rota’
His father said the family expects Dave Michael Santos’ remains to be flown to the CNMI next week.
“He will be buried on Rota,” the father added.
Dave Michael Santos was born on May 17, 1989. He was the eldest of four siblings. He has two sisters and a brother, aged 10 to 19.
Right after graduating from Rota High School in 2007, he underwent a U.S. Marine Corps basic training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and an Advanced Individual Training at Camp Pendleton, California, his father said.
“His first deployment to Afghanistan was in 2008. He came back from Afghanistan in 2009. He got redeployed to Afghanistan only about a month ago,” the father added.
He said he last saw his son last year when he came to Rota.
Dave Michael Santos is the 13th from the CNMI, and the 37th from the Micronesian region, to die since 2003 while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
He is the first cousin of the late Corporal Joe G. Charfauros Jr., another CNMI son from Rota, who died while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Charfauros, 33, was one of four U.S. soldiers killed on June 20, 2007, in Baghdad, Iraq following injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device that blew up near their vehicle.
Rep. Teresita A. Santos (Ind-Rota) said her nephew’s death came as a shock to the family and relatives.
“It’s bad enough he died in Afghanistan, but knowing that he was killed by a fellow [Marine], that’s shocking. It’s shocking and tragic,” Santos said in a separate phone interview.
She said her nephew was a “very down-to-earth and humble” man.
“He’s very respectful and a fine gentleman,” the lawmaker from Rota said.
Since 2003, men and women from the Micronesian region, which includes the CNMI and Guam, have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against terror.
Just early last month, a 23-year-old soldier from Guam was killed in Afghanistan.
Army Sgt. Joshua Akoni Sablan Lukeala was killed on June 7 in Afghanistan while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He died with four fellow soldiers who were all assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. They were based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.