David Nunez

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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

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ELIZABETH AILEEN 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

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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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Cyd Charisse

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CYD CHARISSE

1921 to 2008


Pure glamour and romantic escapism

If you once sat enthralled by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, the name Cyd Charisse evokes Technicolor images of pure glamour and romantic escapism, images that have long since passed into film history.  Shown above with Fred Astaire in MGM’s The Band Wagon (1953), Charisse – who was to movie dance partners as rhythm is to blues – died of complications from a heart attack in Los Angeles on Tuesday, June 17. She was 86.

You won’t see her like today.

In contemporary musicals like Mamma Mia (2008) and Hairspray (2007), actors still break into song and dance, but it’s not the same as watching icons of the genre like Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The Band Wagon. Not that Charisse ever broke into song – unless her voice was dubbed. She could not sing a note, and her acting was at best “on cue,” according to one critic.

The epitome of dance

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Timothy John Russert Jr.

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TIMOTHY JOHN RUSSERT JR.

May 7, 1950 to June 13, 2008

by Katharine Blossom Lowrie 

Meet the Best

My sister called from Arizona that fatal Friday afternoon. “Tim Russert died,” she exclaimed, the shock in her voice reverberating through the phone. “I’m in my car and just heard it on NPR. You were the only one I could think of to call.”  (Photo: Reuters)

My sister is an educator, and I am a journalist, professions that have something in common, mainly the ability to communicate. Other than that, our lives couldn’t have taken more divergent paths – except for one overwhelming passion: politics. Fortunately, we are on the identical side of the political fence. But even if we were not paired up in terms of party affiliation, watching Meet The Press would have been de-rigueur on Sunday mornings for both of us. That was one of the splendors of Russert’s talent: to serve as an impartial witness to the facts and let us judge for ourselves. Whether Democrat or Republican, you got an unbiased view of the day’s hottest issues – from the host, at any rate.  (Oh, maybe a hint of a lean toward the Dems at times.)

Never mean, petty or disparaging

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