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Hundreds Attend Service for Slain Security Guard : Funeral: At a chapel in Orange, Marine Corps honor guard salutes the Gulf War veteran shot down on what was to have been his last day on the job.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former Marine Dagoberto R. Carrero survived seven months of flying helicopter missions in the Persian Gulf, but he could not escape a senseless attack back home which claimed his life last week.

“War is mano a mano, and the other (attack) is pure cowardice,” said Dennis Bowen, a Vietnam veteran and father-in-law of the slain Carrero, 23, who died in a barrage of gunfire during his shift as a security guard at a local movie theater Feb. 19.

On Saturday, nearly 230 of Carrero’s family and friends joined a Marine Corps honor guard for Carrero’s funeral, filling an Orange mortuary to capacity to say goodby to the former serviceman.

Police are seeking six teen-agers who reportedly threatened Carrero when he asked them to leave the theater so a crew could clean up after a showing of a film at 7:15 the night he was killed.

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Less than two hours after Carrero was slain, a second unarmed security guard, 19-year-old Rupert Morales of Santa Ana, was killed in an unrelated shooting as he attempted to direct a car into a parking space at a bar in Garden Grove. Funeral services for Morales will be held in Mexico today. Police are still searching for his killers.

Saturday, two Marines stood at attention at each end of Carrero’s flag-draped coffin in the small chapel as Sgt. Major Craig Fairbanks shared his memories of the former soldier.

“Carrero stood out from the others the first time I met him,” he said.

Fairbanks, who said Carrero’s positive attitude always lifted the spirits of the people around him, noted that Carrero was chosen Marine of the Year in 1991 from among the 250 members of his Tustin-based helicopter squadron. Carrero was a junior aerial gunner instructor and a crew chief on a four-member CH-53 helicopter team.

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When Carrero decided to leave the Marines in 1992 after three years of service, Fairbanks said he tried his best to persuade him to stay.

“This quality of Marine is needed in the Corps. I wanted him to stay for the future leadership of the Marine Corps . . . and when he left, the loss to the Corps was the gain to someone else,” Fairbanks said.

Staff Sgt. Ricardo Segarra, who met Carrero while they served together in Okinawa, told the mourners that he loved Carrero like a brother.

“He was not only a good person,” a tearful Segarra said, “he really cared about other people and shared with others. There are not many people like that left in this world.”

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In an interview, Carrero’s supervisor from Patrol One security said Carrero was one of his finest employees. “He was a leader and very hard worker. I received more commendations from clients about him than for any of my other employees,” said Jason Bancroft.

After a lone bugler played taps, two Marines folded the U.S. flag on Carrero’s oaken casket and handed it to his wife, Nicole Carrero, 27, who sat in the front pew with the couple’s 9-month-old daughter, Jeralyn.

Nicole’s brother, Matt Bowen, said his sister is deeply distraught over last week’s slaying. When Carrero did not return from his night shift at the movie theater, Nicole went to the theater and learned from fellow employees that her husband had been shot to death, Matt Bowen said.

Bowen said Carrero, a native of Puerto Rico, worked two eight-hour shifts a day to support his family. His goal was to go to college and secure a high-paying job.

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“All he wanted to do was to provide a good life for his family,” Matt Bowen said.

Married for 18 months, Nicole and Dagoberto Carrero had moved into a newer, nicer apartment in a safer neighborhood just the day before Dagoberto Carrero was killed, Matt Bowen said. The day of his death was to be his last assignment as security guard, he said.

Carrero had been accepted into the Air National Guard, and was to fly to Texas Thursday for a four-month training session which Carrero hoped would eventually help pay for college, Matt Bowen said.

After the funeral, family members and close friends attended a private viewing. Carrero will be cremated and his wife will keep the ashes, and will have her ashes mixed with his after she dies, Dennis Bowen said.

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