Even while serving as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan, Mario Manrique says his son was always concerned and checking in on his family.
"He always tried to take care of us," Mario said of his beloved son.
Dan was deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The former Marine Corps radio operator became an active member of the local veterans community when he returned, founding the Ventura County chapter of Team Red, White, and Blue.
Just weeks before the 33-year-old was gunned down at the Borderline Bar & Grill, Dan had accepted a paid position with the non-profit as pacific regional program manager. He also had plans to return to school.
"Why? He was going to get killed around the corner. How? It's hard to understand," the grieving father said.
Mario said he was looking for his son Thursday morning to tell him his school loan had been approved. It was then that authorities came to his door with the devastating news.
"That was one of the hardest, saddest news that you would hear," Mario said. "I almost fell to the ground."
Mario said he is comforted by the outpouring of support from the community and is especially grateful to the person who built white crosses for the victims and each of their families.
Mario added that while he doesn't want to politicize the tragedy, he hopes the country's leaders will increase funding for critical programs that help veterans transition back into civilian life.
"Enough is enough," he said. "We don't want to wait anymore, to see more people killed."
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