Dominick Santanello (b. Jan. 31, 1951, d. Dec. 9, 1970) was the son of Vibiana Duarte and Whitney Vance. He was born at St. Helen's Home for Unwed Mothers. He was somewhat undersized at birth and was kept with his mother until he gained weight. Then he was put up for adoption. He was adopted by Luca and Audrey Santanello who lived in Oxnard, CA. He attended Oxnard High School and was a multi-sport athlete. He was also a talented amateur photographer. He had a sister, Olivia McDonald, also adopted.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1969 and received some of his training at Camp Pendleton in San Diego County. While there he met Gabriela Lida, an activist for the Chicano community. They began a romantic relationship, and Gabriela became pregnant. They had an informal wedding ceremony before he deployed to Viet Nam. He served as a corpsman during the war, initially stationed on board the hospital ship Sanctuary. Later he went on patrols as part of the 1st Medical Battalion in Da Nang. Twice during his time in Viet Nam he took unauthorized trips back to San Diego to see Gabriela. Before his second trip their daughter, Vibiana, had been born and he was able to take a photo of her. He did not tell his family about his relationship with Gabriela. He was killed in 1970 when the helicopter in which he was riding was shot down by snipers in the Tay Ninh Province.