David Chirinos

The Baltimore Sun

David Chirinos, a former Marine Corps corporal who served in Afghanistan, died of complications from cancer and liver failure Sept. 13 at his Parkville home. He was 27.

Born in Miami, he was the son of Rosa Chirinos. He was a graduate of South Ridge High School, where he played varsity volleyball and was team captain. He worked for DirecTV and for a hotel car valet service for a year before enlisting in the Marines in 2009.

"He took his volleyball seriously and could jump super high," said a high school classmate, Chris Montero, who lives in Wilmington, N.C. "He was a natural leader, in a spontaneous kind of way. He was never pushy. He had a magical touch and made everything fun and comical. You fell in line and wanted to work hard for him. He made everything hysterical. He had walks, styles and voices.

"He had one speed: overdrive, fifth gear, high octane," said Mr. Montero.

Mr. Chirinos underwent basic training at Parris Island, S.C., and received schooling at Quantico, Va. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune, S.C., before being assigned overseas.

In Afghanistan, he was a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner. His wife, Sara, said he planned and arranged air flights, among his other duties. He handled hazardous materials and served on convoys from Kuwait to Afghan cities and military posts.

"He was part of the logistics crew. He was on convoy missions to supply and redistribute assets throughout the theater," said a Marine Corps friend, Jesus Lopez, a sergeant who lives in Tampa, Fla. "He was outspoken and quick to stand up for others. If he saw there was a better way to do something, he respectfully suggested it to his leaders and peers.

"He led by example. The first words he said at Camp Lejeune were, 'How quick can I get to Iraq?'"

After serving overseas for six months, Mr. Chirinos became sick and was taken to Germany and later to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. He was eventually diagnosed with Stage IV cancer.

Mr. Lopez said, "He was in Kuwait when he began to feel bad. He pressed on because he was leading a team."

"My husband beat death that time," said his wife, who at the time was a preschool teacher and British Embassy worker. We met in Washington when he was recovering," she said. "We immediately connected and fell in love."

The couple married in 2010 at Las Vegas.

Mr. Chirinos underwent numerous treatments and retired from the Marines in 2013.

"He was in excruciating pain, but he did not complain. He had an inner strength," said Kathryn Walker, a MedStar palliative care pharmacist. "He had an amazing sense of maturity."

During periods of good health, he resumed playing volleyball and often competed at Rash Field in the Inner Harbor. He was also a dog lover and was devoted to his pet bulldog, Kramer.

Earlier this year, nearly 400 people attended a bull roast fundraiser held in his honor at Columbus Gardens in Parkville.

"David was quick-witted, smart, appreciative and a funny prankster," said his mother-in-law, Debra Schindler, who lives in Baltimore. "He never asked 'Why me?' or felt sorry for himself, during five years of fighting disease. He had a goal, and he endured unimaginable pain to attain it. He fought for our country very proudly and loved being a Marine."

A military funeral will be held at 2:45 p.m. Dec. 15 at Arlington National Cemetery.

In addition to his wife, survivors include his mother, Rose Chirinos of Miami; and two brothers, Oswal Hernandez of Miami and Kevin Hernandez of Parkville.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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