For one Orange County prosecutor, the poignancy of 9/11 is most acute when he recalls his cousin, who was in the U.S. Naval Academy's class of 2002, the first class to graduate into war since Vietnam.
Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche plans to be at a book signing Tuesday at the Santa Ana Elks Lodge for "In the Shadow of Greatness," a book of stories about the academy's Class of 2002. Labreche's cousin, Andrew Torres, a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps who succumbed to a rare form of liver cancer, is featured in the book.
"They were starting their senior year when 9/11 happened, so they were graduating into war," Labreche said.
Torres fell ill that year, but managed to make it to graduation, the prosecutor recalled.
"We almost lost him multiple times, but he was able to graduate with his class," Labreche said. "We lost him in April of 2004 -- he'd be 32 right now."
Torres grew up in La Cañada and got into the academy thanks to an appointment from Orange County Superior Court Judge James Rogan, who was a Republican congressman at the time, Labreche said.
"Judge Rogan told me he didn't appoint people to the academy according to politics," Labreche said. A panel of admirals and generals would screen out candidates for Rogan, he said.
Torres wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was also a Marine and served in Vietnam and attained the rank of captain.
"He was a great kid, a strong leader, an Eagle scout," Labreche said of his cousin. "He was a little smaller than all the other kids, but he worked his butt off to excel."