Corporal Ari Dirceu Fernandes Junior, 1986 - 2010
Corporal Ari Dirceu Fernandes Júnior, a national of Brazil, had been serving with the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) for six months when the earthquake struck on 12 January 2010. He was 23 years old.
Before serving with MINUSTAH, Ari was a Corporal in the 2nd Battalion of Light Infantry, based in Santos, São Paulo. Growing up, relatives said he dreamed of pursuing an Army career and had enlisted in 2004 at the age of 18.
One of his roommates described him as “an adventurous, lively and friendly person with a passion for videogames. He was a great individual, playful, and a true professional," he said.
"He loved life, he loved Brazil and he was very happy with what he did. He lived every second with great intensity, he traveled and enjoyed his life to the fullest," said a friend.
"Ari performed his duties and he is a hero for our family, for São Vicente, and for the country," said his partner, Vanessa, who also noted that he was planning to return to Brazil soon to celebrate his 24th birthday.
"He did so much at such a young age. He was a hero. My brother was a friend and a responsible person," said an older brother.
A ceremony was held on 22 January at the Brasilia Air Base to honour Ari and his fallen colleagues, which was attended by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and First Lady Marisa Leticia. President Lula called their work with MINUSTAH, "the noblest humanitarian mission ever carried out by the Brazilian Armed Forces."
Ari and his Brazilian colleagues posthumously received a promotion and the Peacemaker Medal for outstanding acts of courage and bravery under life-threatening circumstances.
Prior to his funeral at the Cathedral of Santos, the funeral procession passed in front of the headquarters of the battalion in which he had served.
Ari is survived by his three-year-old daughter and by his partner Vanessa Aubin.