Marine Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen, 21, was killed in combat in the Helmand province of Afghanistan Tuesday.
Cpl. Nguyen’s family said the proud Marine would want people to know he died doing what he loved.
To his family, Nguyen was known as the comedian.
“When he saw you depressed, upset, he was a clown,” Nguyen’s aunt, Stella Lopez, said. “He would come pull your hair, push you, step on you, anything that he knew, that was going to make you smile.”
But Lopez said he was a focused young man and always made good decisions in life.
Before he graduated high school in 2005, he signed a contract to join the Marines. His cousin said it was a career choice he made after admiring an uncle that served in the military.
“That was his dream,” Nguyen’s former babysitter Mona Rivera said. “That was what he wanted to do regardless of where he was going or what he was facing.”
According to military reports, the 21-year-old combat-ready Marine was facing an enemy combatant stronghold the Taliban seems unwilling to give up in Afghanistan.
He was killed in a territory with some of the fiercest fighting in the Operation Enduring Freedom mission.
“I wish I could hang out with him one more time,” close friend William Watts said.
Watts said “Brother Nguyen” was an overachiever.
“To prove to himself that he could overcome anything, he wanted to be in the Marines,” Watts said. “He was always one kid that wanted to be one step higher to making himself better, but he didn’t need to.”
Medals on display in the home of Nguyen’s parents show his ambition.
He lettered in track, and was a defensive starter on the 2005 Hutto football team that played in the state championship that year.
But his cousin said his greatest accomplishment was his 4-month-old son.
“Despite him being killed, he is still here, (and) the love for him will never go away,” he said.