Inland man killed in Iraq
MILITARY: The Navy corpsman is the fourth Hemet High alumnus to die in the war.
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, October 25, 2006
By STEVE FETBRANDT and JAMIE AYALA
HEMET - The fighting in Iraq has claimed a fourth Hemet High School alumnus in what one school official described as an incredible streak of bad luck.
U.S. Navy Corpsman Charles Otto Sare, 23, was killed Monday in Anbar province when the M1114 High Mobility Multi-Purpose vehicle he was riding in was struck by an improvised explosive device. He reportedly was wearing body armor and other protective gear, including the military's new Kevlar helmet.
Sare was the second former Hemet High School student killed in action in less than two weeks. On Oct. 13, U.S. Army Pfc. Kenny F. Stanton Jr., 20, died when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle in Baghdad. Other Hemet alumni to die in Iraq since the war's start are U.S. Marine Cpl. Michael Estrella, 20, in June, and U.S. Army Specialist Jason Chappell, 22, in January 2004.
Sare had been in Iraq only since mid-September. His father, Charles "Ed" Sare, said he wanted to make a little more money to pay off his bills.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, his mother, Vikki Carver, said, "He had a way of making you feel comfortable."
Carver, of Nibley, Utah, said Sare went to Iraq to get more experience with emergencies and treating people with injuries.
Nicknamed Otter, he enlisted in the Navy in 2004 after graduating from Hemet High School in 2001. He was attached to a U.S. Marine Corps division and ultimately wanted to become a paramedic firefighter. His comrades called him Devil Doc, Ed Sare said.
The Hemet native was his own king of comedy, calling himself Willy Wonka on his MySpace site. A photo of him with a beak made of potato chips hanging out of his mouth is just one example of the lengths he would go to make others smile.
In high school, Sare was a member of the Future Farmers of America and had a passion for riding off-road vehicles. His friends pledge to continue fixing up a Nissan truck he was working on and racing it in his honor.
Karen Sare, his stepmother, said Sare loved children.
"He said the people over there were friendly and the children would die for your attention," she said.
Ed Sare said he and his son talked about the dangers of war:
"He was 6-foot, 3-inches tall. I would always tell him, 'Find the biggest guy in the platoon and stay behind him or learn how to duck,' " he said.
Ed Sare said he was uncertain whether his son knew the other Hemet alumni who died but hoped the events do not become a trend for the school.
Hemet Unified School District Superintendent Phil Pendley said he was "astounded" and "flabbergasted" by the loss of four students from the same school in just two years.
"It's an incredible and unfortunate set of circumstances. I don't know there is anything it can be attributed to except plain old bad luck," he said. "Our hearts and prayers certainly go out to this latest family as well as all the others. Part of our prayer is that enough is enough for our school and district."
Pendley, who was in college during the Vietnam War, said six of his high school classmates were killed during that conflict.
Hemet High School has a junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program like most high schools in the region, Pendley said.
"The district's philosophy is that we don't push military service or oppose it. We present it as a career opportunity," he said. "The choice to go into military service is an individual one."
Pendley said school counselors and psychologists remain on standby to help students if the need arises.
Hemet resident Dale Hummel coached Sare in youth baseball for two seasons.
"I had him in 1994, for the Dodgers in Hemet Youth Baseball. He'd play anywhere," Hummel recalled. "I usually had him in the outfield, but he pitched for me, too. I loved Otter for baseball. He never missed a practice. He was always there. He's a well-liked kid."
Sare also played for Hummel in the Valley-Wide Bronco League in 1995.
"I remember him so well because he was such a good kid. He was there to play and enjoyed playing."
Carver described her son as a remarkable young man.
"He's our hero," she said.
In a short biography he wrote on the MySpace Internet site prior to going overseas, Sare listed his mother and father as his heroes, along with "everyone else who makes a difference in another person's life and paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country ..."
Reach Steve Fetbrandt at 951-763-3473 or sfetbrandt@PE.com
Reach Jamie Ayala at 951-763-3451 or jayala@PE.com
© 2006, The Press-Enterprise Company