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Detective Curtis Mancini
Davie Police Department, Florida (age: 43)
End of Watch: January 29, 2004 (Afghanistan)

"" Detective
Curtis Mancini

On January 29, 2004, just a few short weeks after he arrived in Afghanistan, Army Sergeant First Class Curtis Mancini died west of Ghazni. He was assigned to the 486th Civil Affairs Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, based in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. But in Afghanistan, Sgt. Mancini was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, in Bagram. His job was to act as a liaison between the local villages and the military.

Sgt. Mancini, along with seven other soldiers, was killed when a weapons cache of mortar rounds and rifle ammunition unexpectedly exploded. Sgt. Mancini and the other soldiers were preparing the weapons for disposal when one or more of them suddenly detonated. The U.S. military said the deadly blast was likely an accident.

The provincial governor of Ghazni said that a U.S. patrol came across an old arms cache, which may have dated all the way back to the former struggle against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s, and that the ammunition went off by accident.

As of that time, the loss of Sgt. Mancini and the others was the worse loss of life for U.S. forces since America initiated Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, in response to the attacks of September 11th.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai broadcast a message of condolence to President Bush, calling the deaths “another sacrifice of your soldiers for peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

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Curtis Mancini entered the Army Reserve after he graduated from Lincoln High School in Rhode Island, in 1979. After he completed his military training he and his family moved to Florida.

After the Army Reserve, Mancini served with the Army National Guard. In 2000, he transferred from the National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), where he served as a Special Forces Engineer Sergeant, back to the Army Reserve.

Curtis Mancini joined the Davie Police Department in 1987. When he graduated from the Broward County Police Academy that same year he was named the class Academic Honor Graduate. In 1989 he was promoted to the rank of Detective and he was assigned to the Department’s Narcotics Division.

In addition to being a 17-year veteran of Davie P.D., he was also a 9-year veteran (1991 to 1999) of a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) Task Force based in Fort Lauderdale. He eventually earned the distinction of being the third longest working Task Force member in the history of the Task Force at the Fort Lauderdale Office.

Much of Detective Mancini’s work with the DEA Task Force involved a complex and sophisticated money laundering investigation nicknamed OPERATION PRINCESS. DEA Agents and Task Force Officers, including Detective Mancini, would often pose as money launderers and they would then pick up large amounts of U.S. currency at different locations all over the United States and Europe. These monies were usually the illegal proceeds from drug trafficking and when OPERATION PRINCESS finally ended in 1999, in excess of 23 million dollars was seized and then eventually distributed, via the government’s Asset Forfeiture provision, to the various Broward County Police Departments who had had their officers working with the DEA Task Force. Detective Mancini’s dedicated efforts definitely contributed to the very successful conclusion of the DEA investigation and Davie P.D. eventually received more than one million dollars. According to one DEA agent, OPERATION PRINCESS (up to that time) had been the most successful money laundering investigation in DEA history.

Detective Mancini was also the co-case agent on OPERATION CRACK ATTACK. This complex investigation targeted a very violent and murderous cocaine smuggling organization that originated from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, in the southern Caribbean. This island nation is situated just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela.

This Trinbagonian drug cartel was regularly shipping, on a monthly basis, large quantities of cocaine to South Florida. The DEA investigation, which Detective Mancini took part in, began in 1992 and eventually resulted in the complete dismantling of this sophisticated drug smuggling network. Over thirty (30) individuals were eventually arrested and convicted.

This important case also had the rare distinction of being one of the very first times that a defendant was arrested in Trinidad and Tobago and then he was successfully extradited to the United States. Zimmern Beharry was that lead defendant and in 1998, in Miami, he was convicted and then sentenced to several Life prison terms.

Because of Detective Mancini’s dedicated and excellent work as a valuable member of the DEA Task Force he eventually earned four achievement awards from the DEA. He also received the United States Attorney’s Office’s Outstanding Law Enforcement Officer Award. And, his hard work was also recognized when he received the National Narcotic Enforcement Officer’s Association Award. Both of these very prestigious awards are only given to a select number of law enforcement officers.

After his assignment with DEA, Detective Mancini returned to Davie P.D in 2000, as a training officer.

Davie Police Department

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Detective Mancini was 5-foot 8-inches tall, with a muscular and husky build, and he proudly sported a shimmering “Mr. Clean” shaved head. He was an avid sportsman and he loved to golf, ski and ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He was also an avid runner and he even ran in several marathons. According to one of his fellow runners, when he ran he almost always wore an American flag bandanna on his head.

He was also very intelligent and he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Barry University, in Miami. He was working on a Master’s Degree in Education when he was called up to active military duty in January 2003.

As a member of a civil affairs unit Sergeant First Class Curtis “Paco” Mancini was sent to a military base at Tazsar, Hungary, where he helped to train Iraqi exiles who would eventually be interpreters for American soldiers. When the Iraqi exiles finally left Hungary, Mancini went with them, first to Kuwait and then later to Iraq. The work of the Mancini-trained interpreters was often invaluable and led directly to the thwarting of several possible anti-coalition attacks. Then, when his work was done, Army Sgt. Mancini returned home to the United States.

Detective Mancini was then given a choice; he could return to Florida and await another deployment order for Iraq, or, he could take a new nine-month assignment in Afghanistan. He decided to go to Afghanistan.

Detective Mancini was survived by his parents, Erika and John Mancini. His father John spent 35 years in the Army, as an officer. He had three grown children; Mikel (22), Sara (18) and Kristen (17). He also had one brother and one sister, plus many aunts, uncles and cousins.

Eight days before Curtis Mancini died, he communicated with his daughter via e-mail and he helped her with a school project she was doing. He told her, “Serve your country at least once in your life,” --- “preferably while you’re young.”

Mancini’s father spoke at a memorial service and he described a conversation he had had with his son. Upon returning from Iraq he had volunteered to be redeployed to a new combat zone, in Afghanistan. His father asked him why did he do this and Curtis replied, “Because the job is never done.” He also told his mother that he had to go back now, “so that my children and other people’s children won’t have to do it later.”

"He was a soldier's soldier." the elder Mancini stated proudly.

But, Curtis Mancini was much more than “a soldier’s soldier.” He was a good man, and a true patriot, who tried to do his duty to the best of his abilities. And, he was also a “Cop’s Cop” too!

Detective Curtis Mancini was buried, with full military honors, at the Rhode Island Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, in Exeter, R.I. May he rest in peace!


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