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Santa Ana Police Department Honors Lance Corporal Rick Centanni

April 7, 2010

Santa Ana Police Chief Paul Walters presented Lance Corporal Rick Centanni’s father, SAPD Sargent Jon Centanni, with an honorary badge, a nameplate and identification card.  It was Rick’s dream to become a Santa Ana Police Officer like his father.

Please read the following O.C. Register article about the tribute for Lance Corporal Rick Centanni:

He was something of a joker. The kind of young man who friends said could make anyone laugh.

Lance Cpl. Rick Centanni was also role model to his peers, with a tattoo on his chest that spoke of what he valued:

“For those I love I give my life.”

On Tuesday morning, more than a thousand people attended the funeral Mass of the young Yorba Linda Marine who did indeed give his life.

Thousands more lined the processional route in a show of community support.

Centanni was killed in Afghanistan on March 24 by an improvised explosive device that also took the life of another Yorba Linda Marine, Sgt. Major Robert Cottle.

Friends and community members crowded the front of St. Martin De Porres Catholic Church hours before the doors opened for services.

Hundreds of police officers from Santa Ana and across Orange County lined the parking lot, creating a walkway for family of the Marine to enter the church for his funeral service Tuesday morning.

It was an outpouring of community support that Centanni’s father, Santa Ana Police Sgt. Jon Centanni, said was helping him make it through the loss of his only son.

“All the support I’ve gotten has allowed me not to get through this, but to accept it,” he said.

Centanni grew up in Yorba Linda and graduated from Esperanza High School in 2008. He was on the football team and played guitar in a garage band with friends.

His decision to enter the Marines came as a surprise to Jose Becerra, a Santa Ana police officer and close family friend, who thought that Centanni’s smarts would call him to college.

But to friends who had heard Centanni talk about the Marines throughout high school, the choice was a no-brainer.

“He was always talking about ‘semper fidelis,’” high school friend Lance Cpl. Joseph Patterson said in a eulogy. “Rick was always faithful, whether to the Marines, to his family, or to his friends.”

Centanni entered the military just weeks out of high school in 2008.

His choice inspired several of his high school friends to follow him into the Marines. Three of those fellow Marines served as his pallbearers.

“We saw the way he was when he came out of boot camp, the sense of accomplishment and pride he had,” Patterson said. “We all wanted to serve our country together.”

Both Centanni and Cottle, 45, were stationed with…to read the rest of the O.C. Register article, please click here.


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