Based: Ft. Hood, Texas
2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
Supporting: Operation Iraqi Freedom
Died: January 27, 2007
Single, 1 child
Hometown: Long Beach
High School: Banning High (Banning)
Burial: Green Hills Memorial Park, Rancho Palos Verdes
Read the entire LA Times story about Army Private 1st Class David T. Toomalatai here, find more articles at Military Times and visit Private Toomalatai's Guest Book.
In his first months in Iraq, the 19-year-old medic was among three soldiers killed Jan. 27 when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee in Taji, north of Baghdad. [Also killed were Army Pfc. Jon B. St. John II and Army Cpl. Timothy A. Swanson.]
On his personal Web page at www.MySpace.com, Toomalatai posted a slew of photos of the person he would most like to meet: his infant son. "I've got a beautiful baby boy named Damien who's my life," he wrote.
In September, he was granted a week's leave. He spent the week at home with his son, learning about feeding schedules, naps and how to burp the baby. A month later, he shipped out for Iraq.
"Mommy, everything over here is fine," he wrote in an e-mail from Camp Taji to his mother two days before his death. Toomalatai had just learned that his father had been elevated to the status of bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Tell my dad that I'm still saying my prayers," he wrote. "See you soon."
"It's the last thing I have from him," his mother said. He sent it on a Wednesday. That weekend, she was giving her grandson a bath when the doorbell rang. "I saw the military man standing outside. I grabbed my grandson and started crying."
Damien, now 10 months old, spends weekends with the grandparents. The happy baby has brought some measure of comfort to Savali Toomalatai, 18, who is struggling with the loss of her big brother.
"Damien has his father's smile," she said. "Looking at him is like looking at my brother."
In addition to his parents and Savali, [and son Damien] Toomalatai is survived by his other siblings, Doreen, Elizabeth, James, Mara and Michael, as well as a large extended family.