Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ed Santini dies of injuries from I.E.D.

TOA BAJA, Puerto Rico (AP) - The impending arrival of Ed Santini's first child and his mother's advice that his job at a fast-food joint would not get his family ahead led him to enlist in the military at the age of 20.

Five years later, Santini - whose wife is now in her second pregnancy - was killed when the vehicle he was riding in was struck by a roadside bomb Saturday in Baghdad .

Santini's father, his grandparents and his two uncles served as his role model: they all had served in the U.S. military. His brother, Etienne, is also in the Army.

"He wanted to achieve a high rank. He did not want to remain in the lowest rank. His aspirations were so high, he was very proud of being in the military. He liked what he was doing," his mother, Sandra de Jesus, said Tuesday.

Santini, a sergeant, was a member of the U.S. Army's 1st Cavalry Division. He had served three times in the Middle East after the Sept. 11 attacks, working as a mechanic, although he wanted to be in the infantry despite the warnings by his fellow soldiers about the dangers of such work.

When Santini prepared to leave for his final tour, his mother expressed concern for his safety.

"I told him that this gave me a lot of fear, that this was horrible, that it was a no man's land, but he said to me, 'Mom, there are some soldiers that will go with me to the end of the world,"' she said in a telephone interview.

Though he was upbeat and known for making people laugh, Santini was depressed in his last days from the fatigue of recent missions, during which soldiers had only Army rations to eat for several days.

He was also sad "because his wife was pregnant and he was not going to be able to be with her during the pregnancy," de Jesus said. "He was expected in July for the birth."

Santini graduated from high school in 2000 in Toa Baja, a town of 96,000 people located 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of San Juan on the U.S. territory's north coast. His military service took him to New York and later to Fort Bliss in Texas.

His mother-in-law, Leticia Arroyo, said Santini was a "fighter ... very smart."

The Toa Baja municipality will add Santini's name to the list of local soldiers who died in action to the Veteran Monument, which was recently placed in front of the mayor's office.

Santini is survived by his wife, Astrid, a four-year-old daughter and three brothers.

From AOL News