LCpl. Sok Khak Ung, U.S.M.C (NCD)
(reprinted from Yahoo! News October 27, 2003)
Marines carried a flag-draped casket from a Mission District funeral home Monday, while family members and friends wiped away tears for 22-year-old Lance Corporal Sok Khak Ung.
Ung — a decorated combat veteran who survived the war with Iraq (news – web sites) — was killed last week in the backyard of his father’s home in Long Beach, in what police call a possible mistaken identity, gang-related shooting.
Ung was buried with full military honors at Golden Gate National Cemetery where a family spokesman said the circumstances make Ung’s death all the more tragic.
“The family really feels so bad, especially the mom and dad,” said Ra Prak, a family friend. “They said they would probably feel better if their son died in Iraq, but not in the backyard in this country. It’s so horrible, so horrible.”
Ung was honorably discharged in July. Police say he was attending a backyard party when an unknown gunman fired several shots at partygoers. Ung was hit in the head and torso and was killed. Long Beach police say they are still searching for the gunman.
“The family just hopes someone can find the perpetrator or killer who’s out there,” Prak said.
Ung was no stranger to gunfire in Iraq. As a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment his unit was involved in the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch by staging a diversionary attack while rescuers carried Lynch to safety. He was later awarded the Purple Heart after being injured by shrapnel when another Marine stepped on a landmine near him.
Monday, comrades presented Ung’s mother with the flag of their adopted country, while Marine veterans were struck by the irony of it all.
“After the Marine had been through combat and injured in combat, to die a senseless death like this is ridiculous,” one said.
Corporal Ung probably never dreamed he would be fighting in Iraq when he joined the Marines four years ago. One of the main reasons he did join was for the educational opportunities. He was scheduled to start college at San Francisco State this January.