Mike Cothern, Dann V. Angeloff Jr, Patrick Rapicault, John Maloney and Brian Jenkins

 

 

, my name is Mike Cothern and I served with

Dann in the United States Marine Corps from 1998-2000. As fate would have it, or as

God’s providence would prescribe, when I arrived as a new LT to 2nd Bn 5th Marines,

Dann Angeloff needed a roommate; and it just so happened that I was currently living

with a fellow-Marine...and his recently anointed wife...so they were really ready for

me to move on and find a new place to live.

 

There are many brilliant aspects of the Marine Corps...one of them being that it can

bring together a public-school-kid from TX; and an Ivy-League school-kid from

California; mold these two like-minded souls, from two dissimilar backgrounds, and turn

them into life-long friends.

 

I remember following Dann to his house, one block from the San Clemente pier, and

thinking how cool it would be to reside that close to the ocean and how I was going to

boast to all my buddies back in land-locked TX that I live in a house with an ocean view.

I couldn’t have imagined then; how the fortuitous timing of this opportunity would affect

the rest of my life. Little did I know that I was about to become a card carrying member

of the Dann Angeloff fan club...and my cool new digs in Southern Orange County was

just a bonus.

 

Danny was the type of person that you were proud to call your friend. He was unique in

every way he conducted himself. He was a man of principles and integrity. His ideals

and his conviction to those ideals were second to none. He was wise beyond his years

but he was humble in his mannerisms.

 

He possessed the strength of a lion and a warrior-spirit that would have made the

toughest of Spartans proud to stand by his side in combat. He battled for his love,

served his country, and provided for his friends and family...He never asked for anything

in return...and we ALL loved him!!

 

Dann means so much to so many people...that the themes of his relationships and

friendships are universal in their breadth and scope. It would be safe to say that Dann

sits on the top-shelf on all our closest friend lists.

 

He was known to me as Danngerous, Dannimal, Danny-boy, or Lt Dann. He was an

athlete, a rugby player and a marathoner, he was an Ivy-leaguer (w/a bachelors from

Dartmouth and a Harvard MBA), a White House staffer, and investment banker. He

was a successful business owner.

 

He’s a Marine, an infantry officer, the “GUNG-HO” award winner at Ranger School, and

a Rifle Company Commander. He was our friend, an uncle, and a brother...he is their

son, their father and her husband. He was exceptional!

 

Most people are content with being accomplished at one or two of these things. Danny

was extraordinary at all of them. He had such incredible capacity. He could manage

his life and create balance. He made life look so easy.

I always believed, and often joked with Dann that he would some day make a run at the

Presidency...and in a perfect world he would have been an incredible President.

However, in today’s fallen society and current political climate I think his unwavering and

unapologetic belief in his principles would have been too shocking for the political

establishment to handle.

 

He was a competitor, but not competitive...and he always held his cards close to his

chest. Dann usually got what he wanted, not because he was selfish...far from it, it was

because he was generally right. He would only insert himself into a discussion when he

felt certain he could add value to the conversation. I can think of one argument that I

actually won the entire time I knew him. Although that never kept me from trying...I

always loved our conversations.

 

On runs together he would always keep a half-step lead on me, just so I knew that he

had me. Even in the height of my physical prowess and at the low point of his...I would

try and turn up the heat, so to speak, he would still keep that half-step lead.

When we were LT’s with 2/5 and at the end of an exhausting 20 mile BN hike around

the hills of Camp Pendleton; Dann would gather-up unsuspecting LT’s and go for a 3-5

mile run; not because he was neurotic; rather...he just believed that in combat, the end

of a hike or force-march was just the beginning of the fight and you better have fuel left

in the tank in order to lead from the front. I learned real quick to find a nice hiding spot

after those hikes.

 

Dann possessed this inner-strength that we ordinary folks didn’t get issued upon our

birth. When life would get tough, that was when Dann was at his best. He had this

super-hero-type mute button that could quiet any distractions and silence the pain that

would keep most people in the stands as mere spectators. Danny was always at the

center of the arena, battling, because thats where he believed he belonged...and he just

didn’t know how to quit!!

 

In June of 2005 another great warrior was taken from us before his time. John Maloney

was an exceptional man. He was forged from the same ironworks that produced Dann

Angeloff. I, along with others here today, had the honor to serve with both of these

great men.

 

Danny gave a eulogy at John’s memorial service that I will never forget, because of the

wisdom he displayed that day. You see, there were rumors that a group of folks might

actually be outside protesting the war in Iraq.

 

While most of the Marines in attendance wanted to show these people where they could

stick their protests. Dann, in typical Dann fashion, stood up there and told us to standdown;

that “Johnny wouldn’t want us (and I’m paraphrasing here) to turn the protestors

into human pretzels; that John, like the rest of us, signed up to defend freedom, all

freedoms, which includes their freedom to protest.” Well, I never saw any protestors

that day, but never the less, that is wisdom, that was Danny. He knew John’s heart..and

he was right. I miss both of them very much!

 

Dann didn’t like to hunt, fish or play golf. He’s not going to show you how to change out

a carburetor. But he was still a man’s man. He loved Christmas songs...and SC

football, he hated scary movies and he could take a nap while standing up. His Marines

loved him because they knew...they just knew he was always watching out for their six.

He possessed the heart of a child, the brain of an intellectual and a Marine Corps Ethos.

It was that brilliant combination that made him so lovable. He didn’t look down on

people, but he disliked apathy and hated selfishness. He would be the first to tell you

he’s no saint and that he’s not perfect...He didn’t always do the right thing...he just did

everything THE RIGHT WAY!

 

So what do we do now? Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, I’m not Billy

Graham and I don’t have a degree in theology, so I’m going to leave that rationale to the

experts. But how do we move forward and make sense out of this?

In my line of work I see knuckleheads every day that don’t do anything but punt away

their time on this earth. It doesn’t seem fair that we lose someone, like Dann, John

Maloney or Patrick Rapicault, while we keep so many, seemingly undeserving souls,

that just take up space.

 

Well Danny-boy will be disappointed in me if I hold on to that perspective. He would

first tell me to “suck it up!” and then he would ask me “what am I going to do with my

remaining time here? How am I going to make a difference for the people in my life?”

You see Dann gave VERY detailed instructions to Annie on how to manage this service

and their accounts after his passing. It was just his way, he didn’t want this event to

cause any more undue stress than it already has. He was always thinking of others

before himself.

 

But he didn’t give ME detailed instructions on how to deal with his absence and it has

been a hard couple of weeks...Realizing that Dann’s not physically here to pick up the

phone, or go grab a beer and speak truth into my life.

 

But as I started to collect my thoughts and prepare for this service; I started to realize

that he is here...that through death comes life... and his spirit lives on...that he did, in

fact, leave me instructions. He modeled the instructions and lead by example for 41

years.

 

So I have decided that in order for me to cope with his passing, I am going to issue

myself the Dann V Angeloff Challenge...and I believe his challenge to me (to us) would

sound something like this:

 

1- Have an impact on someone’s life, inspire them...I recently thought about the

Marine that Dann met while working in NY. The Marine was on leave and as fate or

providence would have it, met Dann at a bar and started talking up life as a Marine

Infantry Officer. Danny was hooked, he was inspired, he signed up, and our world

profited because of it. What if that meeting hadn’t occurred, what if he hadn’t been

inspired...Dann wouldn’t have been at 5th Marines in 1998, I would have still been living

with my married friends, but more importantly, he wouldn’t have met Matt Goodwin and

subsequently not been at his wedding in Georgia to meet his soulmate, a beautiful

southern belle named Anne-Marie Sanders.

 

2- Say “yes” more than you say “no” to your kids...When they ask you to do

something at the end of a long day, say “yes.” Tell them a bed-time story, “yes”...throw

the ball w/me...say “yes”...can we have a movie night...unplug from your cell-phone and

computer....”yes” “yes” and “yes”...Be present in their life.

 

3- Be passionate about something...one of Dann’s favorite movies was Braveheart

and he loved the famous quote that “every man dies, but not every man truly lives”

Danny packed a lot of living into his 41 years.

 

4- Have faith...understand your faith, bring questions and make sure you get answers,

because this is not our final destination. Become a light in a dark world and people will

follow you.

 

5- Stay positive...I always said if I was on a sinking ship that I would want Danny with

me because he always believed that he could save the ship

 

6- Be present in your friend’s life...make that call...and if you don’t get them on the

“hook”...Leave an epic voicemail, at least 1-2 mins in length and fit-in as many inside

jokes or jabs as possible. My wife always knew when I got off the phone with Danny,

that I would say the same thing...”I love that SOB!” Sometimes she’d even beat me to

the punch-line.

 

7- Be selfless...think of others before yourself. When Dann told me that he had cancer

he informed me as though he just got the flu...Then began to ask me how things were

going in my life...as though it was no big deal. He was always thinking of others first.

 

8- Serve...it doesn’t have to be for your country, serve your church, volunteer at a

hospital, get involved in a charity, but just serve.

 

9- Eat dessert...order it as an appetizer if you feel like it...Danny would...he always

loved his sweets, but he would also put in the extra miles to run it off as well.

 

10- Lead from the front...when a crisis happens in your life...don’t turn and run...take

the point...and let your people see you up front, they will take comfort knowing you have

the “con”...I would have loved to have gone into combat with Dann Angeloff. He would

have been magnificent under fire.

 

11- Be generous...Pick up the tab every once and awhile...and don’t let anyone know it

was you who did it...although I always knew when Danny had done it

 

12- Prioritize you life...Time is priceless...and money has an established value...Where

are you investing your time?

 

13- Don’t forget to laugh! Out loud...alot! Dann’s laugh was loud and infectious

 

14- Be a man of principle...live with integrity...and fight for what you believe in...

You see, Dann was born from good stock. He didn’t develop his character and his

principles through osmosis, it was modeled for him. Mr and Mrs Angeloff, I want to

thank you for giving us the Danny we know and love. I know you are proud and you

should be. He is the total package we all aspire to become and he loved you and his

sisters very much.

 

15- Love your spouse...Danny and I both out-punted our coverage with the wives we

married, but that doesn’t mean everyday is a Rose Bowl Parade. You have to continue

to pursue your spouse and serve them...don’t wait to be served. Annie, you were

Dann’s rock and your family’s foundation. Your bravery throughout this battle is one to

be remembered and commended.

 

16- Remember him...Don’t let his kids forget...don’t let them forget who their Daddy

was and how much he loves them. I lost my father at a young age and after his

accident, we lost touch with his side of the family and his friends. So besides the stories

that my mother would tell me, I never really knew my father and it has been a wound in

my life that I still deal with today. Is he proud of me? Does he see the man I am today?

What I do know is that my Dad was no Dann Angeloff...So take the time and post your

stories (to the webpage) of what Dann meant to you, let his children know who their

father was and his impact on your life.

 

17- Don’t quit, don’t ever quit! Know your limits and push them...get out of your

comfort zone and stay there as long as you can. Inflict your will upon the world and

make it a better place. That was Danny’s M.O.

 

Cancer did not beat Dann Angeloff, he just physically ran of out time to take that hill; but

his fight lives on through his spirit and subsequently through us. We are here not just to

remember and honor a great man, but to pick up his pack, to carry the load where he

couldn’t and complete his mission.

 

Dann is here today, right now, with us and if he could, I believe this is how he would

challenge me and you to move forward and fight on!

 

So I’ll be seeing you Danny, on a long run when I need motivation, on a tough day when

I need to be inspired, when I feel like quitting or taking a short cut..that’s when I’ll see

you. I know you are up there watching out for our six and we can take comfort in that.

 

I have a hole in my heart the size of Texas...

 

Semper Fidelis Brother