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Marine Lance Cpl. Tenzin Dengkhim

Died April 2, 2005 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

19, of Falls Church, Va.; assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.; killed April 2 by enemy action in Anbar Province, Iraq.

First Tibetan-American killed in Iraq

Radio Free Asia

WASHINGTON — A 19-year-old Tibetan immigrant from Virginia has been killed in combat in Iraq, less than one month after deploying there, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports.

Marine Lance Cpl. Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim died April 2 in an explosion while serving as a scout for his platoon in the city of Hadithah, in Iraq's Anbar province, Pentagon officials said. He is the first Tibetan-American killed in combat in Iraq, according to Tibetan community leaders.

“He was a very good boy, deeply religious, and [he] talked of serving Tibet as a soldier after he completed his military career as a U.S. Marine," his mother, RFA Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon, said.

"He was very devoted to his grandmother, who lives in Dharamsala [northern India],” she said. “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."

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.

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.

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.

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