A Tibetan immigrant who came to the United States with his family more than a decade ago and later joined the U.S. Marine Corps was killed in Iraq over the weekend, military officials and relatives said yesterday.
Lance Cpl. Tenzin Dengkhim, 19, a resident of Falls Church, was assigned to the 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division and died Saturday as a result of enemy action in Anbar province, officials said.
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Lt. Barry Edwards, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division, would not provide further details about how Dengkhim was killed.
Anbar province, one of the most troubled regions in Iraq, includes part of the Sunni Triangle and the resistance-worn cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. In recent months, the Marines have launched a major offensive there to rid the area of insurgent strongholds.
Rinzin Dengkhim, Tenzin Dengkhim's mother, was too grief-stricken to speak with reporters yesterday.
Pema Gorap, a family friend, said relatives and friends came to the mother's home in Virginia to pray and remember Tenzin yesterday. They were waiting for word on when his body would be sent home, she said.
"From what I learned from a friend, he wanted to go [to Iraq]," Gorap said, adding that his mother didn't object. "She supported whatever he wished."
Gorap said the Dengkhims came to the United States from Tibet as part of a relocation project approved by Congress in the early 1990s.
Dengkhim entered the Marines in September 2003. He joined his unit in March 2004, Edwards said.
Dengkhim was a rifleman, a post that involves security and patrol operations. Dengkhim had earned the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the National Defense Service Medal, Edwards said.