Memorial Day 2012: Remembering OC heroes Christian San Nicolas and Tyler Holtz.


It’s been a tradition at the Orange Juice Blog, at least since I became editor, to honor the young men of Orange County (all men so far) who have died over the past year in our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This past year, commensurate with our departure from Iraq and gradual drawdown in Afghanistan, there were only two casualties from the OC – Dana Point’s Tyler Holtz (22) last September, and Fullerton”s Christian San Nicolas (20) last month.

This is down from eleven OC deaths in 2004, and half-a-dozen most years since.

Whether or not we consider these two wars to have been justified or necessary for our national security, whether or not we feel that they both should have been over long ago, whether or not we agree with the policies that put our young men and women out there in harm’s way, we all honor the selfless bravery of these young volunteers, who go and put their lives on the line where our politicians tell them they are needed.

[hit play for soundtrack]

Fullerton”s Pfc. Christian R. San Nicolas, remembered by his friends as a “A brilliant philosopher, knowing the ins and outs of any situation… A rapper, a drummer, a fighter full of inspiration and dedication,” was mowed down by an IED in Kandahar April 28.   He sounds like he was a very promising young man;  I can’t do any better than this excellent Garden Grove Channel 3 report from his service:


We wrote about Dana Point’s Tyler Holtz last September, when the 22-year old Army Ranger died from wounds suffered during heavy fire with Afghan insurgents.  Some of his friends eventually chimed in on the comments section with their reminiscences about the Mater Dei lineman:

  1. Kevins
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 12:47 PM

    This article is about Tyler Holtz who died bravely for our country … The beautiful thing about this brave young man is that he died for ALL Americans freedom, those that love this country and those that don’t. God Bless him and his family for their sacrifice!

    • CBall374
      Posted October 6, 2011 at 5:33 PM

      Kevins…..Thank you for your “Re-Focus” on the concept that this blog is to notify us, and to honor the sacrifice of an American Soldier. Sgt. Tyler Holtz. A young man of defined bravery and courage. A young man filled with love of God and Country and Family. … A young man who freely stood forward, accepted the commitment and the sacrifice that went with it all, and gave it his all. This was Tyler. One hundred percent, One hundred percent of the time!!! I knew Tyler – a proud U.S. Army Ranger who fought for the concepts of freedom around the world, and the security of his own homeland. His smile was big as all outside, and he was a fun-loving individual filled with honor and valor. He is loved, and he will be missed..

  2. Eric Faust
    Posted October 9, 2011 at 1:11 AM

    He was: the man, the myth, the legend. He was a God among men, a true AMERICAN HERO. Tyler you and not only one of my oldest friends, but a my inspiration and my HERO. Rest well buddy, I will see you on the other side.

    My heart goes out to all of the Holtz Family…

The OC Roster (so far)

  • 4-28-2012, Afghanistan Christian San Nicolas, 20, of Fullerton
  • 9-24-2011, Afghanistan Tyler Holtz, 22, of Dana Point
  • 3-4-2011, Afghanistan Jordan Stanton, 20, of Rancho Santa Margarita
  • 3-3-2011, Afghanistan Jason Weaver, 22, of Anaheim
  • 1-15-2011, Iraq Jose A Torre Jr., 21, of Garden Grove
  • 6-28-2007, Iraq Shin W. Kim, 23, of Fullerton
  • 6-23-2007, Iraq Shane Stinson, 23, of Fullerton
  • 4-12-2007, Iraq Daniel Santee, 21, of Mission Viejo
  • 1-28-2007, Iraq Cornell Chao, 36, of Orange
  • 1-15-2007, Iraq Mark Daily, 23, of Irvine
  • 9-29-2006, Iraq Michael Monsoor, 25, of Garden Grove
  • 4-25-2006, Iraq Raymond L. Henry, 21, of Anaheim
  • 4-12-2006, Iraq Marcus Glimpse, 22, of Huntington Beach
  • 2-14-2006, Iraq Michael Probst, 26, of Irvine
  • 1-27-2006, Iraq Hugo Lopez-Lopez, 20, of La Habra
  • 5-26-2005, Iraq Ricardo Crocker, 39, of Mission Viejo
  • 3-28-2005, Iraq Samuel S. Lee, 19, of Anaheim
  • 1-29-2005, Iraq Keith Edward Taylor, 47, of Irvine
  • 12-28-2005, Iraq Pablito Pena Briones Jr., 22, of Anaheim
  • 11-9-2005, Iraq William C. James, 24, of Huntington Beach
  • 11-7-2005, Iraq Quoc Binh Tran, 26, of Mission Viejo
  • 10-13-2004, Iraq Charles Soltes Jr, 36, of Irvine
  • 9-10-2004, Iraq Edgar P. Declan Jr, 24, of Cypress
  • 9-6-2004, Iraq Derek Gardner, 20, of San Juan Capistrano
  • 6-26-2004, Iraq Manuel Ceniceros, 23, of Santa Ana
  • 6-19-2004, Iraq Sean Horn, 19, of Irvine
  • 5-29-2004, Iraq Rafael Reynoso-Suarez, 28, of Santa Ana
  • 5-1-2004, Iraq Trevor Wine, 22, of Orange
  • 4-13-2004, Iraq Victor Rosales-Lomeli, 29, of Westminster
  • 4-8-2004, Iraq William Harrell, 30, of Placentia
  • 3-13-2004, Iraq Joel Brattain, 21, of Yorba Linda – Brea
  • 1-31-2004, Iraq Eliu Mier-Sandoval, 27, of San Clemente
  • 11-29-2003, Iraq Stephen Bertolino, 40, of Orange
  • 3-23-2003, Iraq Jose Angel Garibay, 21, of Orange [whose mother, as Paco recently informed us, is on the verge of losing her home in Santa Ana!]

Of course this list doesn’t include all the physically and mentally wounded from these wars, who are not counted as meticulously, but are roughly twenty-fold.

It also doesn’t include the numerous suicides and reckless deaths of the troops who have already come home.

It doesn’t include all the contractors and civilians who have lost their lives assisting in these engagements.

Nor, I think, does it include accidents and illnesses suffered overseas – for example we remember how our South County Congressional candidate Bill Hedrick’s son nearly died of heat stroke a few years ago in Iraq.

The Orange Juice salutes the bravery and selflessness of Tyler, Christian, and these other young men, and we offer our sincere condolences to their families and friends.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.