Atul Vyas


1988 to September 12, 2008

He could quote whole episodes of South Park and Family Guy

vyas.pngAtul Vyas, a brilliant physics and mathematics student who planned to attend medical school after graduating from Claremont McKenna College in 2009, was one of 25 victims of the Chatsworth train crash on Friday, Sept. 12.  The gregarious pre-med student, who doted on younger cousins and loved to play family pranks, was on his way home to see his parents in Simi Valley for the weekend when his Metrolink passenger train collided with a freight train.  He was only 20 years old.

A fan of the Calvin & Hobbes comic strip, Curious George books and strenuous workouts, Atul was known across the Claremont campus for his expertise at Super Smash Bros., a Nintendo video game, quoting whole episodes of “South Park” and “Family Guy”, and his luminous personality.  He lit up a room with his smile, said his grieving father Vijay Vyas, and never seemed to need to study all that hard to make top grades.

“Thoroughly brilliant, flying high”

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James William Adams, An Easy Rider



June 8, 1955 to September 9, 2008

by Jeremiah Adams

He died as a result of being stubborn

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Some obituaries are just too good to pass up-even if we didn’t write them. This gem, written by James Adams’ son, Jeremiah, appeared in the Star Tribune in Casper, Wyoming on September 16, 2008.]

A celebration of life for James William “Jim” Adams, 53, will be held at a later date.

He died Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008 at Memorial Hospital of Converse County in Douglas. Jim, who had tired of reading obituaries noting other’s courageous battles with this or that disease, wanted it known that he lost his battle. It was primarily as a result of being stubborn and not following doctor’s orders, or maybe for just living life a little too hard for better than five decades.

He was born June 8, 1955 in Garrison, N.D. the son of James William and Ruby Helen (Clark) Adams.

Deprived of his final wish…to be run over by a beer truck

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David Nunez



June 16, 1980 to May 29, 2008

Flawed like the rest of us

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following message, posted originally in Spanish by a woman named Gloria, was in reaction to a Los Angeles Times obituary devoted to Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez, 27, of Los Angeles, a member of the U.S. Army’s elite Green Berets, who died as a result of small arms fire on May 29, 2008 in Shewan, Afghanistan.  More than anything else, the poignancy of the response rests in the first sentence, which stands as one of the most memorable (if not the most memorable) tributes to a young man who, while flawed like the rest of us, so loved his country that he made the ultimate sacrifice.

A womanizer, liar, and drinker

nunez-4.jpgYou were a womanizer, liar, and drinker. But this does not take away your good qualities. You were human, and like all humans you made errors. Nobody knows about me or about our love, and they never will know in reality what happened with us. It made me sad to see you buried and your death in this way. But my comfort is my memories of you and the time we lived together. We were very happy in that time. What I do know is that your only and true love was your work. You died doing what you wanted most in life. In reality I never understood what it was that you did but just hearing you talk about it was enough to know that you enjoyed it. Now you can rest, you did your part in this battle. You will always live in my heart. Gloria”

Into his third deployment

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Elizabeth Campbell



October 1, 1960 to July 20, 2008

An indomitable spirit

Elizabeth A. Campbell, Director of Women’s Programs for Pacific Hills Treatment Centers in Dana Point – an indomitable spirit who breathed life, love and hope into those who had none – succumbed to lung cancer Sunday, July 20th. She was 47.

Her legend grew quickly at Pacific Hills, the scary click of her spike heels as she marched down the hall to a meeting, those in attendance often quivering in fear at the sound. Only 5’2″ and 120 lbs. “soaking wet,” according to her husband of 24 years, Greg Campbell, Elizabeth was a powerhouse presence, especially when something didn’t measure up to her rigorous standards. Whether at Pacific Hills, or at home in Aliso Viejo, said Greg, Director of Sales at Irvine BMW, she was like a drill sergeant. “Hey, Campbell,” she would call to her husband. “You made a mess. It’s unacceptable! It is not okay!”

The lucky person who gets those eyes

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Faoa L. Apineru



1976 to 2007 to August 3, 2008

Semper Fi

Considerably after the fact

apineru.jpgIt’s strange how one Marine’s death can affect so many – especially when it is acknowledged considerably after the fact. Such is the case with Faoa L. Apineru, 31, of Yorba Linda, a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, who died on July 2, 2007, two years after suffering massive brain injuries due to a roadside bomb attack in Anbar province, west of Baghdad. Yet, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) did not officially recognize his death as resulting from the Iraq war until August 3, 2008.

Just how did the DOD explain the cause of death of the strapping Samoan, formerly a black belt in karate and marathon runner, who was confined for over two years in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Palo Alto, his brain so traumatized with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) he had to relearn how to walk, talk and drive? Perhaps the DOD viewed Apineru’s loss of memory, his inability to distinguish nightmares from reality, his tendency to attack anyone who resembled a “jihadist” (his term for the enemy, said his brother, Selemaea Apineru of Colorado) as some sort of a chemical imbalance.  The Department of Defense isn’t saying.

Reliving the attack in recurring nightmares

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