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Colombia Crash Victims Identified

July 31, 1999

EL PASO, Texas (AP) _ Capt. Jose A. ``Tony″ Santiago loved to take his two young daughters to amusement parks, go camping and jump out of planes. But most of all, he loved his job in the Army.

That is the way Santiago’s brother described him Friday, the day the Army identified him as one of five soldiers presumed dead after their reconnaissance plane slammed into a mountainside in Colombia more than a week ago. Two Colombian air force officers also were aboard for the anti-drug mission.

Santiago, 37, a native of Orlando, Fla., was a doting father of 12- and 6-year-old girls and was about to celebrate his 16th wedding anniversary, said his brother Derreck Santiago, a soldier at Fort Hood in central Texas.

Derreck Santiago, 33, said his brother was so enthusiastic about the military, he convinced him to sign up.

``He loved his job,″ Derreck Santiago said. ``He loved being in the military, working with different people and different personalities.″

And Santiago was no quitter, which is why his family is holding out hope until they receive final word.

``Until they confirm they found him, it’s just hard to believe,″ Derreck Santiago said. ``My brother would not give up. If he had no legs, he still would’ve tried to crawl to safety.″

Santiago was based at Fort Bliss in El Paso, as were his four crewmates _ Capt. Jennifer J. Odom; Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thomas G. Moore; Pfc. T. Bruce Cluff; and Pfc. Ray E. Krueger.

All five were assigned to the 204th Military Intelligence Battalion.

The de Havilland RC-7 reconnaissance plane, reported missing July 23, hit a 9,000-foot peak in the Andes Mountains while it circled above a major drug-producing area near the southern border with Ecuador.

Searchers recovered four bodies on Wednesday, and have continued to search for the others.

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