Casualty devoted himself to Marines
The Kahuku graduate was among the elite troops, his father says
Marine Sgt. Daniel Tsue told his father in an e-mail from Iraq a few weeks ago that he was "still alive" despite some close calls, including one where a bomb went off about 60 feet from him.
Daniel's father, Richard Tsue, said he didn't really know what to think of that. "It was just part of his job."
On Tuesday, Daniel Tsue, 27, a 1996 Kahuku High School graduate, was killed by a roadside bomb in a town about 70 miles west of Baghdad.
His death brought the total to 72 people with island ties who have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
The Pentagon said Tsue was killed while conducting combat operations near Ar Ramadi, which has been the target of insurgents. He was assigned to 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif. His unit was attached to 2nd Force Service Support Group, II MEF (Forward).
Tsue was a victim of a homemade bomb, which the military has said is the biggest killer of American troops in Iraq. Most of the 96 Americans killed last month were victims of roadside bombs.
Daniel Tsue was deployed to Iraq a couple of months ago, his father said, and they kept in touch via e-mail.
Richard Tsue said his son told him he was in one of the most "dangerous areas" of Iraq.
He said his son was supposed to be in Iraq for seven months, but that he had asked to be extended an additional seven.
Richard Tsue thought his son would make a good teacher someday, because he liked to work with kids. He grew up in Moanalua Valley and for a time worked on his family's orchid farm in Pupukea.
But Daniel wanted to be a Marine.
He made that decision while attending the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where he went after graduating from high school. He was there only one semester.
"He came home one day and said ... he would join the Marines," Richard Tsue said. "He maxed the test, everybody wanted him.
"I told him to join the Air Force, but he said he needs the discipline, so he joined the Marines."
Daniel trained somewhere on the East Coast and didn't get leave for two years, his father said.
Daniel told his father that he started in a class of 150 and was one of only four who graduated. He signed up for embassy duty and "got it right away because of his top-secret clearance," Richard Tsue said.
He was initially assigned to Bahrain and then to Bangladesh before being moved to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. "Then he got bored and signed up with EOD (explosive ordinance disposal) school," Richard Tsue said.
His father said it was kind of a privilege to join that. "I was told that was the elite."
Then Daniel went to parachute jump school, which is unusual for a Marine, his father said. "I think he was happy in the Marines."
Tsue wanted to make the Marine Corps a career after enlisting in December 1998, excelling and being chosen as flag bearer in basic training, his uncle, Wayne Tsue, said yesterday.
Wayne Tsue described his nephew as "a really good kid. He was very kind. He liked to play with the younger kids."
His one passion was playing pickup basketball.
"But once he got into the Marine Corps," Wayne Tsue said, "he liked it so much, he hoped to make it a career. ... He was an outstanding Marine."
Daniel Tsue was the 44th Marine with island ties to be killed in Iraq.
His personal awards included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal.
In expressing his condolences, U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said that Tsue was one of America's finest. "We honor him for his courage, patriotism and devotion to duty," Abercrombie said.
Besides his father, Daniel Tsue is survived by his mother Deborah Takemoto, half-sister Joy Takemoto and half-brother Alex Takemoto, according to his uncle and father.
Funeral services are pending.