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Officers remember slain OC Marines

March 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A roadside bomb in Afghanistan this week killed two Marines, both from Yorba Linda. One was a veteran LAPD SWAT officer. The other had plans to become a police officer.For cadets the hard work has paid off: graduation day is a chance to celebrate, but also to reflect on the sacrifices of others. Many LAPD graduates Friday remembered Officer Robert "RJ" Cottle, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

"I've known RJ for many years," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "He's a man of great character, a man of great ability, a man of a huge heart. And he demonstrated the passion in his life, which was protecting others in everything he did."

Cottle wasn't the only one lost. Also killed in the same explosion was Lance Corporal Rick Centanni. The two men were both from Yorba Linda. They met each other for the first time in Afghanistan.

And it wasn't just a hometown that they shared. Like Cottle, the 19-year-old Centanni also wanted to work in law enforcement. His father is on the force in Santa Ana.

"I was blessed. He was a great young man," said Jon Centanni, Rick's father. "Everybody loved him."

Centanni was on his first deployment with the Marine Corps. Cottle was in the Marine Corps Reserve. He had already safely served two tours in Iraq before being deployed to Afghanistan. He is the first LAPD officer to die in either war.

"About two years ago, RJ and I and some of the other guys from SWAT went to a funeral in San Diego for a San Diego SWAT officer who had deployed to Iraq and was killed. We went there to support them. When the funeral was over, RJ pulled me aside and said, 'Canaan, if anything happens to me, just let everybody know that I died doing what I love," said LAPD Officer Canaan Bodell.

A memorial service for Cottle will be held next week. The 45-year-old will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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