April 23, 1988|By Sandy Coleman of The Sentinel Staff
OCALA — Outside the church, the sun shone brightly Friday. Inside, a cloud of sadness filled the room as friends and family mourned Angela Simons Santos, who joined the Navy to see the world and returned home its casualty.
Santos, 21, a Navy petty officer third class, was killed April 14 in a terrorist bomb blast in Naples, Italy.
Her military funeral at the Presbyterian Church at Marion Oaks began at 1 p.m. with her favorite thing -- music. A recording of her soft soprano voice drifted from speakers as she sang a song honoring her dead grandmother.
Santos' mother, Ellie Cruz, brother Jimmy Santos, 18, and father James Santos sat near her casket. Her brother Tony Cruz, 8, sister Jennifer Cruz, 5, and about 20 friends sat nearby.
Other mourners included Navy personnel, Gov. Bob Martinez and U.S. Rep. Buddy MacKay, D-Ocala.
''As we sit here today,'' the Rev. David Omerod began, ''there is a certain feeling of unreality . . . It is hard to imagine that something that happened all the way around the world brought us here.''
More than 350 mourners, many of whom who knew Santos as a beautiful, shy girl, listened closely to the minister's words and searched for comfort.
''Angela did not want to die. God did not want her to die. She died at the hands of unforgiving men. And now we mourn her death hoping for one more smile, one more touch, one more hug that cannot be ours.''
The church choir Santos was a member of for more than a year sang one of her favorites, ''I Will Not Be Afraid.''
Virgina Robb, a choir member and close friend of Santos, had said Thursday that singing the song would be one of the most difficult things she has ever done.
''The words are so appropriate for her,'' said Robb, 68, who was flattered that someone as young as Santos would start a friendship with a woman her age. Santos was at a party at the Naples USO club when a car bomb exploded on the narrow street outside. Four Italians also died and 17 people were injured, including four U.S. sailors.
But the bomb's impact was much wider, said Rear Adm. John Koening as mourners waited outside the church for the funeral to begin.
''It's a sad day for our entire world for a young man or young woman to give up their life in such a senseless manner,'' he said. ''The sadness is compounded by the fact that at any moment, an act of terrorism can take place. No one is safe. We are all affected.''