Good afternoon, 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
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
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
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
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
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