Saturday, January 01, 2011

Marine Lance Cpl. Maung P. Htaik

Remember Our Heroes

Marine Lance Cpl. Maung P. Htaik, 20, of Hagerstown, Md.

LCpl Htaik was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; died Jan. 1, 2011 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

"From my understanding from talking to him, I see that he was inspired by the Marines to be brave and strong," Dan Yar wrote of his brother Tuesday in an e-mail. "I am more than sure that he did want to serve his country."

"He has never spoken of being afraid of death and was very quiet and calm," Yar wrote in the e-mail. "There are a lot of things, but I just want to say he was brave, real brave.

Yar said his brother was very quiet, and that he liked to play games on the computer and enjoyed drawing.

Htaik joined the Marines in February 2009, his brother said. He was promoted to lance corporal April 1, 2010, and deployed to Afghanistan in July, the Marine Corps said.

Htaik's family left Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, in 1998, and moved to Singapore, Yar said. The family came to the United States in 2002 because their father wanted them to be able to get a better education, Yar said. Htaik was a naturalized United States citizen, Yar said.

"He was interested in the military. I'm not sure why he chose the Marines," Grace Priest, the registrar at Smithsburg High School, said Tuesday. He was a student aide in the school's guidance office during his senior year, she said.

"He was a quiet young man. A nice young man," Priest said. "He would do anything you asked him to do," she said.

Htaik, who was known as Sam at school, transferred to Smithsburg from Frederick County during the second semester of his sophomore year, Priest said.

Htaik made the distinguished honor roll in his senior year at Smithsburg, according to Herald-Mail archives.

Among the photos Yar provided of his brother was one of Htaik shaking hands with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Htaik met Giuliani when the USS New York, an amphibious transport, was commissioned, Yar said.

Htaik's Marine Corps decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Marine Corps said.

His body was returned to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware on Monday, the Department of Defense said.

He was a young man who went to high school in Maryland and later took the trouble to get in touch with one of his teachers to let her know that things were going well.

A few months ago, the young man, Maung P. Htaik, sent an e-mail to Diana Price, who taught him world history. In it, he told her that he was a Marine and that he was going to Afghanistan.

Lance Cpl. Htaik, 20, of Hagerstown, Md., was killed Saturday while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, the Defense Department said.

"He was a nice kid," Price, his teacher at Smithsburg High School, said Monday night. "A delightful young man."

Other staff members at the high school in Washington County, near the Pennsylvania border, also remembered him as quiet, easygoing and well behaved, not one to call attention to himself.

People cited his good nature. At school, they recalled, his last name proved difficult for some to pronounce (like "tie"). When Price struggled with the name, she said, "he always just laughed at me." She said he told her: "Mrs. Price, just give up and call me Sam."

He was known at Smithsburg as Sam. "He was fine with that," said Grace Priest, secretary and registrar at Smithsburg.

One of his academic interests was psychology, Priest said. He was in an honors psychology class in his senior year, she said.

As he finished up at Smithsburg, he told school counselor Deborah Donoghue that he did not feel ready to go off to college. She said she tried to steer him toward the Air Force, in which she had served.

At school, he was interested in activities such as weight training, but he did not fit the image of the typical Marine, Donoghue said. But, she said, that was the branch of the service that he wanted.

His family had emigrated from Southeast Asia, she recalled, and "I just felt he wanted to do something to give back to this country."

Funeral services will be Saturday at Frederick Christian Fellowship Church, 10142 Hansonville Road, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the viewing from 10 to 11 a.m., Yar said. The family would like Htaik to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but has not yet received burial information from the Department of Defense.

Like his parents, Hla and Florie Shwe of Hagerstown, Htaik was a devout Christian, his brother said. Htaik attended Gateway Ministries in Williamsport, Yar said.

Marine Lance Cpl. Maung P. Htaik was killed in action on 1/01/11.

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