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Yorba Linda loses 2 Marines in Afghanistan

March 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Shock and disbelief in Yorba Linda as residents learn two local Marines were killed in Afghanistan.Marine Lance Corporal Rick Centanni was just days away from his 20th birthday. The popular former Esperanza High School football player died this week in Afghanistan. His vehicle was destroyed by a roadside bomb.

The blast killed Centanni and another Yorba Linda Marine, 45-year-old Sergeant Major Robert Cottle.

"I know my brother has nine lives, but I just had like a bad feeling about this particular tour," said Bonnie Roybal, Cottle's sister.

The veteran LAPD officer spent seven years with the Marines and returned as a reservist.

Cottle is the first LAPD officer to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"My brother was an extraordinary human being," said Roybal. Roybal said her brother was due back in May. She said his wife is serving in the Navy. Cottle leaves behind an 8-month-old daughter.

"She won't know him, but we will speak of him, and LAPD's been here all day sharing stories and we know that they will be like a second family, and she will know her father," said Roybal.

"Everybody knows that Rick and the sergeant major are heroes, as well as everyone else over there," said Jon Centanni, Rick's father.

Jon, a Santa Ana Police officer, says his son's death, as difficult as it is, isn't changing his opinion of the military. He recalls how eager his son was to join the Marines and defend his country.

"I was blessed. He was a great young man. Everybody loved him. The football team, the coaches, everybody. He showed interest in going into the Marines in high school. He told me and I supported it, and we're very proud of him," said Jon.

Rick wanted to follow in his father's footsteps and join the police force after he got out of the Marines.

Thursday afternoon, Jon was surrounded and comforted by his friends in the Santa Ana Police Department, and his son's friends, who say Rick will truly be missed.

"Physically he may be gone, but he's here, and he will always be here," said Jon. "He's a representative of the heroes we have in this country."

A blue ribbon trust fund has been established for Officer Cottle's wife and 9-month-old daughter through the Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union (LAPFCU).

To make a donation, please go to www.lapfcu.org or donate by telephone at (877) 695-2732, please enter account number 2030077 S4.38 and BLU (first three letters of the account name).

Donations may also be received by mail, please make it payable to "Blue Ribbon Trust for Robert J. Cottle" and send it to:

Los Angeles Police Federal Credit Union
Attn: Blue Ribbon Trust Fund/Officer Robert "RJ" Cottle
P.O. Box 10188
Van Nuys, CA 91410