Col. Emilio Carlos Torres dos Santos, 1963 - 2010
Major General Emilio Carlos Torres dos Santos, a national of Brazil, was deployed to the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since May 2009.
A native of Rio de Janeiro and a paratrooper by training, he worked with the Commandant of the Army in Brasilia prior to his service in Haiti. He had been the commandant of the 26th Parachutist Infantry Battalion, an elite army corps.
Having completed 30 years in the army, including a previous assignment in central Brazil, the successful completion of his service in Haiti was important to Emilio’s next assignment. He was furthering his education at the Academia Militar das Agulhas Negras.
Emilio was proud to serve on a UN peacekeeping mission, intending to bring his family to visit Port-au-Prince in May 2010 at the end of his year-long assignment. “He wanted us to see where he worked, where he slept, and how the country was improving and being rebuilt,” his wife said.
“I asked him how the situation in Haiti was and he said it was quiet. The only hard thing for him was to be far away from his family,” said a friend. “He’s going to be very much missed. He was a great person,” he added.
“I worked with him for over three years,” said a colleague. “I learned so much. He was such a great professional and person.” Other colleagues remembered Emilio as extremely hardworking and disciplined.
Known for his bravery, one family member said, “I know that if he were alive, even if injured, he would be helping in the rescue, because that was who he was.”
A ceremony was held on 22 January at the Brasilia Air Base to honour Emilio and his fallen colleagues, which was attended by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and First Lady Marisa Letícia. President Lula called their work with MINUSTAH “the noblest humanitarian mission ever carried out by the Brazilian Armed Forces.”
Emilio and his colleagues posthumously received a promotion and the Peacemaker Medal from their country for outstanding acts of courage and bravery under life-threatening circumstances.
Emilio is survived by his wife Ana Paula Santos and two daughters aged 13 and 7.