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Community gathers to remember fallen Marine

April 7, 2010 2:48:44 PM PDT
Hundreds of law enforcement and members of the community showed support for the family of Marine Lance Corporal Rick Centanni.The memorial service was held in Yorba Linda where Centanni grew up. He lived with his father and was his best friend.

"And I keep telling myself this every day," Centanni's fatherJon said. "And I thank God, the best son a father could ever have."

Centanni was known for his contagious smile and would have turned 20 last Saturday.

He was killed last month in Afghanistan by an improvised explosive device that also claimed the life of his 45-year-old friend Sergeant Major Robert Cottle.

"He paid the ultimate sacrifice," said fellow Marine Joey Patterson. "He gave his life for all of us because he loved us and he wanted us to have the freedom."

Centanni always wanted to be a Marine. After graduating from Esperanza High School in 2008 he entered the military. After graduating from boot camp a friend recalls what he did with a special pin he cherished.

"He gave his pin to somebody you honor, you admire, and you respect and he gave it to his father," his friend Jose Becera said.

Centanni was being honored by thousands of people who never met him.

"I just want to thank everybody for all the love and support," said Jon Centanni.

They lined the streets and watched silently hand to heart as the processional passed on the way to Riverside National Cemetery.

"I'll miss you buddy," Jon Centanni said. "You'll always be there with us."

The Santa Ana Police Department presented Centanni's father, who's a sergeant with that department, with a badge. Badge number 3228, assigned specifically for his son Rick, helping fulfill a dream of that young Marine.

He always talked about becoming an officer with the Santa Ana Police Department following in his father's footsteps and getting that badge Tuesday helped fulfill that dream for his family.


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