Saturday, February 03, 2007

David T. Toomalatai dies of injuries from I.E.D.

CARSON, Calif. - Teen soldier David Toomalatai joined the Army to provide a future for his girlfriend and then-unborn son. Less than three months after arriving in Iraq, the medic was killed by a roadside bomb.

Toomalatai, 19, decided he needed a full-time job and tuition to eventually go to college to become a physician's assistant, said Daniela Perera, the mother of his 10-month-old son Damien.

The Army private wasn't troubled about going off to war.

"He wasn't worried," Perera said. "I kept telling him, 'Don't go.' He said, 'It's going to be good in the long run. When I come back, it will be all good. I'm going to school.'"

When he's old enough to understand them, Damien Toomalatai will watch his father's football highlight films from his days at Banning High School in Wilmington.

"I have lots of pictures," the 18-year-old mother said Tuesday. "He's going to know him. There's a lot of people to talk to him about his dad."

Toomalatai died in Iraq on Friday when an ambulance he was riding in rolled over a land mine as he picked up injured soldiers, friends and family said.

"It's so weird when somebody that you're used to seeing, and talking to, isn't there any more," said his 18-year-old sister, Savali Toomalatai, who spoke to him the day before he died.

"It sounded like he was very concerned and very scared. But at the same time, he held up to his part. He went to it full on. He really believed he was protecting the United States and protecting his family," his sister said.

His high school science teacher Mary Bane said the Army was a way for Toomalatai "to access all of his dreams."

Bane said Toomalatai viewed the military as "a great opportunity with the college money and the family support."

From the San Jose Mercury News