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You may have read the story in the Register July 6 – you may not remember it now – about the 19-year old Anaheim boy who lost control of his bicycle coming down a Fullerton hill last Saturday afternoon, and crashed fatally into an oncoming car. (The Reg kindly points out “No alcohol or drugs appear to be a factor.”)
This was Rafael Correa Jr, and everyone who knew him seemed to think the world of him. Unexpected funerals are thousands of dollars and sadly out of the reach of most working class families like Rafael’s, and so there will be two fundraisers to help with this tragic event: One to be announced later, and THIS Saturday a yard sale, organized by youth activist “Guera Coppolino” and friends, starting early in the morning, in front of Yesenia’s apartment, 710 North Anna Drive, Anaheim.
This remarkable, energetic, yet humble young man’s fondest dream was to be a Marine, but he couldn’t afford to do that yet – if you can imagine not being able to afford being a Marine – his family (mother and two little sisters) needed the help from the work he did landscaping people’s yards. Rafael is pictured to the right in his ROTC uniform, and to the left at the “Miramar Air Show” he went to in 2012 with his good friend Guera, who writes:
“…Well, I met Rafael in high school my freshman year. I believe he was 2 grades ahead of me. We were both in the navy JROTC program at Anaheim High. He was one of our top cadets, always on top of his game.
“In our unit we refer to people who do all the pt (physical training) part of our drill meets as studs. And Rafael indeed was a stud – he constantly worked out, and was usually on every part of our teams, sit-ups , push-ups, sprints, etc. He was a very hard working young man; he never was a troublemaker. Whenever our senior chief or commander gave him a command it was always done with his 110% effort.
“He really had a genuine love for the armed forces. I always thought he was going to join but he never did. After he graduated we lost touch, unless occasionally he would stop by the JROTC room and say hello or I’d into him and his sister here and there. He was a great young man with a lot of potential. It breaks my heart how someone who was kind and respectful could just die at such a young age. I admired and will still continue to admire the hard working guy he was, because he was always one of the older cadets who pushed me passed my limit to run that extra lap or strive to be promoted to the next rank.”
Joanne Sosa of East Street Community Renewal Initiative (ESCRI,) where Rafael spent a lot of time the past couple years, waxed poetic on Facebook as she shared most of these photos:
“Some live a lifetime and a strive through the years to make a difference; others are with us briefly and leave a blazing trail, a legacy of hope and inspiration. Rafael was one [of the latter.] He was our ESCRI student lovingly dubbed ‘Marine’ by our instructor, Anaheim firefighter James Mc Duffie. Rafael even designed the t-shirt for ‘ESCRI FLAME,’ flame standing for ‘Fire Leadership Mentoring Experience.’
“Rafael, we know you were an angel in disguise, your name spoke of your goodness, your courage and the passion you carried wherever you went, encouraging this band of brothers, there was something intense about you, your laughter, smile and the way you never gave up. God called you home, Marine, where we believe the words ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ are ringing throughout the heavens.
“A new star now shines where there was a void and when we look to the night sky we will see you like a million candles daring us to walk the walk as you did, no matter what the circumstances in life brings our way. Rafael, you will be missed, but never, ever forgotten… At ease, Marine! Rest in Peace.”
Guera invites everyone to Saturday’s yard sale: “All money collected at this yard sale will go to help his family with funeral costs. As we all know funerals are not cheap so please come out and show support to a family in need. If you’d like to leave donations or items, please contact me at 714-398-1612. Even if you just drop by to leave a dollar, everything counts and is much appreciated! RIP Rafael, gone from this world but always in our hearts ❤”