Oxnard sailor dies in Iraq combat
Allan Espiritu was on second tour of duty there
By Charles Levin, clevin@VenturaCountyStar.com
November 4, 2005
Before he shipped out for his second tour of duty in Iraq, Allan Espiritu spent his summer teaching his daughters how to ride their bikes.
After he arrived in Iraq, he passed up a safer position to work on the front lines detonating explosives with a U.S. Marine Corps bomb squad.
On Monday, the longtime Oxnard resident and a man of deep religious faith was killed by an improvised explosive device "while conducting combat operations in the vicinity of Al Ramadi, Iraq," the Department of Defense announced Thursday.
His death marks the second casualty this week for a Ventura County native. Also Monday, Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Tessar, 36, of Simi Valley was killed by an explosive device detonated near his vehicle south of Baghdad.
Espiritu, 28, of Menifee, Calif., was identified by the Navy as a petty officer second class assigned to the 2nd Force Service Support Group of the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
On Wednesday, family members remembered him as a man of strong faith, a loving father and a role model for the soldiers and sailors around him.
"I'm very proud of my son," said Alvin Espiritu, 58, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church and a retired accountant for the city of Oxnard. "His faith and love of God were primary in his life."
Allan Espiritu was born in the Philippines, in 1977, the eldest of three boys. His parents moved to California in 1981.
He loved math and sports, especially boxing and football. He played junior varsity football at Channel Islands High School, where he graduated in 1995.
He spent a year at Oxnard College with thoughts of becoming a dentist, his father said. But then he enlisted in the Navy.
He was first stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms and then at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme. He was later assigned to work as a medic with the Marines at Camp Pendleton near San Diego.
This was Espiritu's second tour of duty in Iraq.
His first began around January 2003 when he worked as a sniper -- one of only five sailors to qualify for that job at the time, said his wife, Erika Espiritu, 25, also a petty officer second class.
Allan Espiritu spent 91/2 months in Iraq. Before returning to combat this year, he spent most of the summer teaching his daughters to ride their bikes. He had two daughters, Alissa, 8, and Melanie, 7, from a first marriage, and a stepdaughter, Alexy, 5.
"He was very involved with the kids' schoolwork," his wife said. "He'd treat them like his sailors."
Whenever his children got awards at school, he always made time to attend the ceremonies, no matter what was going on at work, she said.
"I always thought that was very noble," she said.
He was no less caring about the sailors under his command. "He was always helping out and making sure they were taken care of," she said. "When he walked in a room, everyone listened to him. Even superiors took notice of him."
Despite his charge as a medic, Espiritu did little of that work on his last tour of duty, his wife said.
He worked with a Marines bomb squad, defusing explosive devices built by Iraqi insurgents.
In fact, he passed up a safer assignment for the one that put him on the front lines and in harm's way, she said.
"He insisted on being with the (detonation) team," she said. "He fought tooth and nail to get into the position he was in. He always had to be the best."
Espiritu's body is expected to be shipped to Dover, Del., early next week. Funeral services are pending, but a viewing will be conducted at Pierce Bros. Griffin Mortuary in Camarillo, and a full military service will take place at Ivy Lawn Memorial Park in Ventura. The dates and times are pending.
2005 © The E.W. Scripps Co.