Midshipman Duke Carrillo was laid to rest on February 14th, 2020, at the United States Naval Academy Cemetery and Columbarium, located on a peninsula overlooking the Severn River and College Creek in Annapolis, MD. It is a great honor to be buried amongst hundreds of the nation’s veterans, many of whom gave their lives in service to their country. Duke is located in Section 9 next to the esteemed Rear Admiral Wilson F. Flagg (1938-2001) NA ’61 and his wife, Darlene E. Flagg (1938-2001) who were on American Airlines Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The Flagg family is close family friends with the Carrillo family.
We invite you to visit Duke at the USNA Cemetery and Columbarium. Information regarding access to the cemetery can be found at: https://www.usna.edu/Cemetery/visit.php
On behalf of Duke, Dylan and my parents I would like to thank you all for coming and honoring Duke’s life and the impact he had on all of those around him. I was not expecting to be up here talking and I thought I would only have to give a speech at his wedding. This shows you just how fragile life is. There is not enough time in the world or enough words to describe what I am feeling but I will give it my best shot. Everyone here knows how close my family is and how much I loved my brother. I may have never admitted it to him, but I will now. Duke was always the man I aspired to be. He has always been the better man and laughed in times when I was mad and loved in times when I didn’t. He was the typical older brother archetype. The amount of pain that man has taken for me over the course of my life is unimaginable. I have followed him for 20 years in everything from sports, life and even where I decided to come to school. I am so thankful for the amount of time I had with Duke and all of the great memories we shared. I no longer have him to follow but I do know that every step in my life he will be right there by my side calling me a….so this is the only time Father Foley asked me to change a word, so let’s just say he will be calling me a stupid donkey. I keep on finding myself wishing for 5 more minutes with Duke to tell him how much I love him, but he knows how I feel and I know how he feels. Duke was always the best brother. He was the nicest smartest and most caring as many of you know. It’s a shame that he was taken from us so early but his deep impact on hundreds if not thousands of people is very apparent. Anyone that knew Duke well would know that he would hate all of us talking about him right now. He was great at everything and so humble about it. I hate having to speak for someone and maybe getting his words wrong but I know him well enough after 20 years and can already tell you what he would say. He would not want us sitting here crying but rather celebrating the life he had. He would ask us to love each other harder and hug your loved ones just a little bit tighter. There is a saying that a man dies twice in his life. Once when he passes away from our world and a second time when his name is never spoken or remembered again. I can give you this promise Duke. I will never forget you. You were my best friend along with so many other roles. Rest in Peace and I know you are in a better place looking down on us. I love you brother.
To Mom, Dad, Jake, our family, our friends and our shipmates, thank you for coming to celebrate the life of Duke and his never ending endeavor to make the world a better place. I cannot begin to tell you the joy it brings me to see the people Duke cherished so deeply be all in one place. However if I am being honest, this is not everyone he has impacted. There is not a structure on earth big enough to fit all the individuals Dukes exuberant personality touched. I know that to be true and I know everyone in here does as well, and for that I am forever grateful.
21 years. To most that amount of time can seem very short. But that 21 years to me feels literally like a lifetime. In that 21 years I witnessed my twin brother grow from a child, into a man who could conquer the most daunting tasks. In between his transition from childhood to manhood he became many more things to me. He became my mentor, my best friend, my hero, my shipmate, my inspiration, my problem solver and my shoulder to lean on when things got tough. Dukes laughter and joy are truly worth recognizing. Whether your interaction with Duke was only minutes or years, his motives were clear; have a good time, eat great food and make even better friends.
I was talking to my dad yesterday about how I kept having this fleeting feeling that Duke took half of me with him to heaven. I felt empty and lost without Duke by my side. But then the realization of the situation hit me. If Duke had taken half of me with him then I had taken half of him with me. Duke and I were always planning out our next steps, from high school to The Naval Academy Preparatory School or NAPS as we most of us know it, to our time here at the United States Naval Academy. As qualified as Duke was, he promised to never leave me. I never knew how serious he was about this promise until he turned down a direct to appointment to play football at the Coast Guard Academy just so he could go to NAPS with me. The bond we shared and the promise we made, pays tribute to how hard it is for me to accept that he is gone. For the first time in my life I had no plan. I asked myself “why him” over and over again. After days of not knowing my next steps I prayed to Duke to help me find a way to continue without him. Then the other night he answered my prayers and I realized where I would find the strength to keep living. I would find it not by living without out him, but by living for him. Everywhere I go and everything I see, so shall Duke.
The tragic events on Saturday morning changed my life forever. I was there for my brother from the day he was born until his final moments on this earth and I would not have wanted it any other way. While tragic I am grateful that I was able to hold his hand as god brought him into heaven and I know that he is looking down on me right now. He is probably laughing at my haircut or making fun of my small hands, as he liked to put it. I know that he is telling me to finish what I started and that’s what I plan on doing. I will carry both of us through life and I will live as though tomorrow is my last day. I love him, I miss him and I find peace in knowing that one day we will meet again. Duke lives on in each of our hearts and minds and if you ever need someone to help guide you as well, he is just a thought away.