Sgt. Cameron Sarno was killed
in an accident in Kuwait
After four years away, Staff Sgt. Cameron Sarno had only three weeks before coming back to Hawaii from Kuwait.
"He was just tired already," said Jamie Gallarde, Sarno's sister. "He made plans to return to the state, hoping to open a martial arts academy and pursue his dream."
Cameron Sarno: The soldier was sideswiped by a truck while changing a tire Monday
But on Monday the 43-year-old former Waipahu resident was sideswiped by a truck while changing his vehicle's tire and killed, according to the Department of the Army.
More than 50 friends and family members held a tribute for the soldier yesterday at Kapolei's Honokai Hale Park in the same recreation room where Sarno and his fellow martial arts enthusiasts would practice and hold competitions.
Some remembered him with words, talking story about a man who loved surfing, music and martial arts. Others chose to express their mourning with motion, performing martial arts moves for a man they called both teacher and friend.
"I know he's looking down on us right now," said Gordon Magallanes, Sarno's longtime friend and a professor at the Makaha Kenpo martial arts academy, where Sarno also taught.
Magallanes said he organized yesterday's tribute in hopes that Sarno was watching. The two not only practiced and taught martial arts in the same academy over their 20-year friendship. They both hunted and surfed together and kept in touch, even when Sarno was in Kuwait.
"He was a tough guy," Magallanes said. "It brings tears to my eyes (when) I flash back on all the good times. I'll remember him as a good teacher and just an all-around good friend."
Gallarde got the news of her brother's death early Tuesday morning from his son, an Army soldier stationed in Afghanistan.
Two days earlier, she had talked to Sarno and helped him plan his trip back to Hawaii.
"My nephew called me. That's when I found out," she said. "I started screaming and crying and told him, 'No, no, no. Your daddy's coming home next month.'"
Sarno had spent five months serving on active duty in Kuwait.
Sarno's son, Cameron Brian Takeuchi, was expected to arrive in Honolulu late last night to begin arranging services for his father. Takeuchi graduated from Waianae High School and joined the Army to follow in his father's footsteps, Gallarde said.
MARY VORSINO / MVORSINO@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Earl Bongo and Ian Beltram (on ground), members of the Makaha Kenpo Martial Arts Club, fought an exhibition in memory of Cameron Sarno yesterday at Honokai Hale Park.
Sarno was born in Wahiawa and graduated from Waipahu High School in 1979. He joined the Army Reserves at 18, seeking discipline and adventure.
Meanwhile, he also became interested in martial arts, a sport that requires a cool head and a strong heart, Gallarde said.
"He was a very tough guy, but his heart was just so big," she said. "He would welcome anyone who needed help, regardless, even if he just met you."
Sarno moved to Las Vegas in 1998, looking for better work and a lower cost of living.
Gallarde last saw her brother in February, two months before he left for Kuwait. Gallarde said the two talked about the possibility of Sarno not coming back from his assignment.
"He kind of prepared me," she said. "He told me to hope for the best and prepare for the worst."
Sarno was assigned to the Army Reserve's 257th Transportation Company in Las Vegas.
He is also survived by mother Trinidad Judy Sarno, of Waipahu, and brother James, of Las Vegas.
Services have not yet been arranged.