Losing a Colleague and Friend

Post-quake Relief in Chile

Por Dialogo
abril 01, 2010

We, The Association of rural workers of the Guapore River Valley in the State of Rondonia. on behalf of our associates and Brave Leaders. As we mourn an unrecoverable loss when we lose a warrior that protects only the good in favor of our beloved families. We then ask God to enlighten the families of THE HERO LOVED BY ALL OF US. The loss of a hero, it is very sad when Brazil loses an innocent fighting to protect us, from the evil people, that is why we ask for help from our armed forces to defend our borders for many years we haven´t had control over traffic and crimes without limits because we are certain that at the end of the day the politics will do nothing for us to be a Country with order and decency we only see sadness, pain homeless people depressed without a future and without a solution since they have already lost the taste of life due to all those human losses without any value for them it has to have more. More rigor and not pursue the innocent as they did with the Association because they wanted to organize an array in the State because we are going to charge a lot so that our children and grandchildren have at least their lands returned not to further increase this barbarism that only hurts our hearts when we see human loses of soldiers from whichever institution. If you are honest do you need to be a prisoner or dead? Just because you are a good citizen. That is sad, very sad!!! Hermes the Knight Good evening, I had the pleasure of working with Cel Emilio in 2006. I was his formed soldier. He was very vibrant, warrior, dedicated to the Brazilian army, I served the country. It’s very sad to loose someone like that, but life goes on, Brazil. (NOTE: This was translated from Portuguese)
I served for two years under Colonel Montenegro. He had extensive operational experience: commandos, jungle warfare, special forces, parachuting, skydiving... a good guy... May God watch over Col. Emilio. I served by that time with Cap Emilio at 1st BFesp in Camboatá, Rio de Janeiro. A good military man very competent and experienced, my condolences to his family…. May God rest his soul Good morning, I’ll try be brief.
I am an enlisted from 2004, I served at the Paratroopers Brigade 26th BI PQDT until 2011. By the end of 2005 I was invited by the garage Commander to be the driver of the 26th Commander, COLONEL EMILIO. I confess that I was concerned, because it isn’t easy to work with a grade officer, there are lots of missions and meetings and it requires flexibility. Nevertheless, I accepted the job.
As months passed by I realized that the most valuable thing is for you to be at a place that you like, not for money reasons but for love (especially because the military pays are a little behind). I also realized that I just had got a new friend, a friend who during our trips always transmitted words of optimism, he always remembered the time he spent at AMAN [the Brazilian Army Military Academy] or the Special Operations Battalion. The time we spent together was short, only one year and three months, but it was enough for me to know that Emilio was a man dedicated to his family (I remember that on his wife’s birthday he asked me to buy a flower bouquet and take it to a hospital in Marechal where she worked (his wife was also an Army Reserve Lieutenant). Finally, today I return to the past and remember our talks, jokes, like when his favorite soccer team lost (Fluminense), or when he spent time at Bar do Cesar (Cesar’s Pub) at Marechal [neighborhood] to meet his work colleagues and distract his mind a little bit, because the week at "dormeia" was always very busy. I miss everything so much…
Ladies and gentlemen, I confess that I am at my work (Itaguaí) moved with emotions, remembering the good and bad times I spent by this military man’s side, who performed his duties as Commander of the 26th Bi Pqdt SANTOS DUMONT BATTALION. This way I come to an end to my words, pouring out my heart if I may say, regarding this honorable military who will never get out of my mind… GOOD JUMP AND NICE LANDING!!

Editor’s note: Col. Emílio Carlos Torres dos Santos was promoted to Major
General after his death.
To be selected to participate in peace missions abroad is considered a
distinction among Latin American military personnel. Deaths are rare in these
situations. The earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12 changed that. Brazil,
which has led the peace mission in Haiti for almost six years, had more than 1,200
military personnel in the country at the time of the tragedy. Eighteen Brazilian
Soldiers did not survive.
To discuss what it means for a member of the military to lose a friend,
Diálogo spoke with Lt. Col. Fernando de Galvão e Albuquerque Montenegro, the head of
the Education Department of the Center for Jungle Warfare Instruction (Centro de
Instrução de Guerra na Selva) in Manaus, Brazil. His close friend, Col. Emílio
Carlos Torres dos Santos — married, with two daughters — dedicated his life to
saving the lives of others, and perished in the quake.

DIÁLOGO: How many years had you and Col. Emílio been friends, and how
did you meet each other?

Lt. Col. Fernando de Galvão e Albuquerque Montenegro: He was in my
class in the military academy in Rio de Janeiro in 1977, but our friendship
strengthened when we both went to the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras. Col.
Emílio belonged to the infantry like me and also like me, was an athlete with the
water polo team. It was a friendship of over 30 years, and he was a person whom I
admired enormously.

DIÁLOGO: How did you learn of his death?

Lt. Col. Montenegro: I was in Rio de Janeiro and met other comrades at
the Army School of Physical Education, some of whom were getting ready to go to
Haiti. They were the ones to break the news to me. It was a shock.

DIÁLOGO: The loss of a close friend is very painful. Is there any
comfort in knowing he died while performing such a noble function?

Lt. Col. Montenegro: It is undoubtedly comforting. We participated
together in the Special Forces Battalion for a long time and performed various
high-risk activities, from actions along the border against the Colombian FARC
[Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia], to parachuting, free fall from high
altitudes, where the use of oxygen tanks is required during the jump, and also
diving in zero-visibility areas. However, we never expected to lose someone so close
and so used to dealing with danger.

DIÁLOGO: What are you going to miss the most about your companionship
with Col. Emílio?

Lt. Col. Montenegro: The feeling of loss is very intense, because I
knew him very well. He was a very serious and qualified professional. He was an
idealist. He believed strongly in what he did. He had an above-average dedication to
his military career. He was so experienced that he was designated Commander
[2007-2008] of the 26th Battalion of Parachute Infantry, one of the most important
ready-response units in our Army. It was his second time participating in the
Brazilian mission in Haiti, this time as the MINUSTAH Commander’s right-hand man.

DIÁLOGO: Do you have any information about the moment of his death?

Col. Montenegro: He was conducting an important MINUSTAH meeting inside
the United Nations compound. When he felt the first tremors, he ran with the others,
looking for a way out. He was found near the building’s exit, so it was a matter of
seconds that he didn’t make it. Another comrade, Lt. Col. Alexandre Santos, was near
him, under the debris, with his legs caught, but he survived after a rescue that
took over four hours.
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