The Washington Post

Family buries Marine who 'never let up'

Maung P. Htaik told his family that he was going to be a scientist when he grew up. But after graduating from high school in 2009, he became a Marine.

His enlistment took his family by surprise, said his brother, Dan Yar, 25. He asked his brother why he joined, but he did not get an answer, he said.

"For him, there was no regret. He really liked where he was," said Yar, who added that his sibling was brave and joined the infantry. "As a brother, I always worried about him."

Lance Cpl. Maung Htaik, 20, of Hagerstown, Md., known as "Sam" to many of his friends, was killed Jan. 1 while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, the Defense Department said.

About 70 family members, friends and Marines huddled together on an icy Tuesday morning for his burial at Arlington National Cemetery. His family members placed their hands over their hearts to salute Htaik as a firing party fired three volleys. They solemnly accepted flags and condolences presented by Sgt. Maj. Eric J. Stockton.

The lance corporal was born in Burma, also called Myanmar. His family moved to Singapore for a few years before coming to the United States in 2002.

"We were much closer at home before we came here," Yar said. "We were each other's friends."

The two shared a love of drawing and video games, he said. But they grew apart as Yar went to college and took on adult responsibilities and Htaik attended Smithsburg High School.

Yar said his brother enjoyed weight lifting and had many friends in both the Burmese youth group he attended and at Gateway Ministries in Williamsport, Md.

"He is a smart, godly man," his father, Hla Shwe, said of his youngest son.

Htaik was known for having good grades, being easygoing and not calling attention to himself, school officials told The Washington Post.

"He was a nice kid," said Diana Price, who taught Htaik world history. "A delightful young man." Price had received an e-mail from Htaik letting her know that he was doing all right and heading to Afghanistan.

"He used to be really talkative, one of those kids who said funny stuff all the time. Then, after the boot camp, he came back, he was more quiet" and mature, Yar said. His brother was deployed to Afghanistan in July and was due home in February.

"He called home and [asked] my mother to pray for a guy because he got shot," Yar said. "Every time we talked to him, he had other things going on. He never asked for anything from home. It was more about his friends and stuff going on. That is him."

Lance Cpl. Mark Dell, a Marine in Htaik's platoon, spoke at Htaik's Jan. 8 memorial service at Frederick Christian Fellowship Church via a video on Voice of America's Burmese news YouTube channel. Dell said the first time he saw Htaik was when Htaik came charging by a group of tired Marines at the end of a day of grueling exercises.

"First impressions are everything. For Sam, it truly was," Dell said. "The entire time I knew Sam, he never let up."

Htaik was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.

His awards included the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

"I just wish I had more time to spend with my brother," Yar said. "That is all that I really want."


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