Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Marine Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen, 21, of Hutto, Texas

Cpl. Nguyen was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; died Dec. 28, 2010 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, while conducting combat operations.

The sign in the Hutto living room of the parents of Marine Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen says "Welcome Home." It was hung there to celebrate when he finished his stint in the Marines in 2012, said Nguyen's girlfriend, Monique Stearns, who was sitting in the room Thursday holding the couple's 3-month-old son in her arms.

"He had an uncle he had looked up to who was in the Army, and he wanted to follow in his footsteps," said Mona Rivera, Nguyen's cousin, who was at the Nguyen home Thursday with her mother, Amparo Garcia, and Stearns.

Nguyen's parents, Tam and Amy Nguyen, had gone to Pennsylvania to identify their son's body and bring him back to Texas to be buried in a Brownwood cemetery near the grave of his grandmother, Lucia Salazar, Rivera said.

Stearns said Nguyen last saw their son, Tevan Nguyen Jr., when the baby was 9 days old in September. She last talked to Nguyen on Monday, when he said he was going out on patrol, Stearns said. He never talked to her about the war but always asked how his son was doing, she said. The couple met when they were both students at Hutto High School, Stearns said.

"You could never be mad at him," she said. "He always made you smile."

Nguyen ran track and was a member of the Hutto football team that reached the state championship in 2005 . His room at his parents' house is filled with sports medals. "He didn't drink, he never smoked, and he believed in prayer," Rivera said. Nguyen had a lot of courage and never thought anything could beat him, Rivera said.

"He used to call himself a ninja because he was part Asian and could do karate," Stearns said. Nguyen had wanted to go to school and work on cars when he got out of the Marines, she said.

He won several personal service awards, including the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, a spokesman for the Marines said Thursday.

Because Nguyen was based in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement Wednesday about Nguyen's death:

"Corporal Tevan Nguyen was a brave Marine who gave his life in service to our country. Maria and I were deeply saddened to learn of his death, and we will forever be grateful for his sacrifice.

"On behalf of all Californians, we extend our sympathies to Tevan's friends and family during this difficult time. In honor of Cpl. Nguyen, Capitol flags will be flown at half-staff."

Marine Cpl. Tevan L. Nguyen was killed in action on 12/28/10.

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