WASHINGTON—A 19-year-old Tibetan from Virginia has been killed in combat in Iraq, less than one month after deploying there.
Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim died as a result of “hostile action” April 2, the Pentagon said. He appears to be the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq.
“He was a very good boy, deeply religious, and [he] talked of serving Tibet as a soldier after he completed his military career as U.S. Marine,” his mother, Radio Free Asia (RFA) Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon, said.
“He was very devoted to his grandmother, who lives in Dharamsala [northern India]. He made sure that his grandmother was present at his Marine graduation ceremony.”
“He was very fond of playing basketball every Sunday with other Tibetans,” Choedon said.
Dengkhim graduated from George Marshall High School in Fairfax, Virginia, after moving with his mother and brother from Utah, where the family first settled in the 1990s.
He was very devoted to his grandmother, who lives in Dharamsala... He made sure that his grandmother was present at his Marine graduation ceremony.
Dengkhim, born in India in 1985, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on Sept. 14, 2003.
He had been on active duty in Iraq less than a month at the time of his death. He enlisted in hope of saving money for college, according to a family friend.
U.S. military officials said Dengkhim appeared to have been killed in hostile action in the city of Hadithah, in Iraq’s Anbar Province.
No further details about the incident were immediately available. Tibetan community leaders say he is the first Tibetan-American killed on active military duty in Iraq.
Dengkhim is survived by his mother and older brother, Tenzin Fende Dengkhim, of Massachusetts.