January 31, 2004
Fla. Officer Killed Serving in Afghanistan
Officer Down: Curtis Mancini - [Davie, Florida]
The Associated Press
DAVIE, Fla. -- A Davie police officer was among at least seven
American soldiers killed when a weapons cache exploded in
Afghanistan, city officials said. An eighth soldier is listed as
"presumed deceased" by military officials.
Curtis Mancini, 43, died in the blast Thursday near Ghazni city,
about 90 miles southwest of Kabul. Mancini, an Army Sergeant First
Class, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion Infantry, 10th Mountain
Military officers said a mortar round exploded during a training
exercise. Afghan officials called it an accident, but Lt. Col. Bryan
Hilferty, a spokesman at U.S. military headquarters in Kabul, said
its investigators were still looking into the explosion to pinpoint
Mancini, who also served about a year in Iraq, had recently been
redeployed after spending the holidays at home, officials said.
"He told his mother, `I need to do this now so that my children and
other people's children won't need to do it later.' He was a
soldier's soldier," said his father, John Mancini of Lincoln, R.I.,
who served 35 years in the Army and retired as a sergeant major.
Mancini was born December 12, 1960 in Fort Bragg, N.C. and went to
high school in Rhode Island. He graduated from Barry University in
Miami, and was working on a masters' degree there when he was called
back to active duty.
He joined the Davie police in 1987 and later was appointed to the
Drug Enforcement Administration. Mancini returned to the Davie police
as a training officer four years ago.
"He was well-liked by the community and the people that knew him,"
Davie police chief John George said. "It's going to be a difficult
set of shoes to fill. I don't know if we ever will."
Mancini was an avid sportsman and motorcyclist, friends said. He ran
"Every time I ever saw him run, he wore an American flag bandanna on
his head," said Mike Kenny, one of Mancini's running partners.
The blast occurred as the soldiers worked around the cache of rifle
ammunition and mortar rounds. Coalition soldiers regularly uncover
and destroy caches of weapons, much of it dating to the U.S.-backed
resistance against the Soviet occupation.
Danger and instability still plagues Afghanistan two years after a
U.S.-led invasion ousted the hard-line Islamic Taliban regime for
harboring Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida network. About 80 people
died in violent incidents in Afghanistan in January alone, including
civilians, police officers, peacekeepers and now American soldiers.
Mancini is survived by three children. Funeral arrangements are pending.