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MILITARY DEATHS

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Allan C. Espiritu, 28, Menifee; Killed in Blast

November 20, 2005|Amanda Covarrubias | Times Staff Writer

As a child, Allan C. Espiritu and his two younger brothers dressed up as soldiers and spent hours playing "war" in the backyard of their Oxnard home.

Years later, Espiritu achieved his childhood dream of serving in the military, first becoming a Navy medic and then helping Marines detonate roadside bombs.

It was one of those devices that killed him Oct. 31 near Ramadi, Iraq, while on his second tour of duty.

He was assigned to the 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward), 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

The 28-year-old husband and father of three died the way he had always tried to live -- as a serviceman, friends and family members said. Whether it was serving his country, his high school track team or his three little girls, he was always there for others, they said.

"He had a strong work ethic," said his former track coach, Tom Ito, now an assistant principal at Channel Islands High School in Oxnard.

"He always tried to help with whatever was asked of him, whether it was setting up hurdles or anything else. He was a positive role model for his teammates and as a friend. He was a quiet leader, but people respected him."

The eldest of three boys, Espiritu loved to play soldier as a child, and the three brothers would paint their faces in camouflage and run around the yard for hours, said his brother Neil, 27.

"We would have our BB guns and paint our faces to save the world," he said. "We thought it was something because we were athletic and competitive."

Relatives said Espiritu was a quiet man with a deep spiritual side and a loving father who saw his family and his career as the cornerstones of his life.

Espiritu was especially proud of being able to buy a new two-story house for his family in the Riverside County city of Menifee, which is within commuting distance of Camp Pendleton.

He had been married to his second wife, Theresa, 25, also a Navy petty officer second class, for less than a year. They had moved into the house in July, Neil Espiritu said.

"His dream was to have a home for his family because he didn't want his kids growing up in a military environment," his brother said. "He wanted them to have a normal life."

Espiritu doted on his daughters -- Alissa, 8; Melanie, 7; and Alexy, 5 -- and taught them to ride bikes this past summer.

"He loved to take care of them," his brother said. "It was in his nature, he was so caring."

That quality was evident at Channel Islands High, where Espiritu was a member of the Asian Club, an extracurricular group that studied Asian cultures, and the football team.

"Maybe he wasn't the fastest kid on the team," Ito said, "but he had heart and dedication and commitment, a lot of the things coaches want from their players."

Espiritu was born in the Philippines in 1977, and his family moved to California four years later. He graduated from Channel Islands High in 1995. The next year, he enlisted in the Navy.

He was first stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif., and then at Naval Base Ventura County. Later, he was assigned to work as a medic with the Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton.

During his first tour of duty in 2003, Espiritu worked as a sniper, one of only five sailors to qualify for that job, family members said. He spent 9 1/2 months in Iraq during his first tour and had returned to combat two months ago.

Espiritu had been trained as a medic but found himself doing little of that work on his last tour.

Instead, he worked with a Marine Corps bomb squad to defuse explosive devices. He had passed up a safer assignment to work on the front lines, his brother said.

Espiritu also is survived by his father, Alvin; and another brother, Jeremy, 19.

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