He "probably saved over 200 ... lives"
Friends learn Marine saved hundreds
The staff sergeant disarmed explosives before being killed by one in Iraq
DURING his short time in Iraq, Marine Staff Sgt. Daniel A. Tsue's work saved the lives of hundreds of people, friends and family heard at his funeral yesterday.
As a member of the elite Marine Corps Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, Tsue's job was to disarm explosives or get them away from their intended targets.
Tsue handled 63 ordnance disposals in Iraq, and "probably saved over 200 Marines and soldiers' lives over there, just by his actions alone," said Tsue's company commander, Capt. Lawrence Goshen.
"He did his duty and he did it extremely well," Goshen said of the 27-year-old Moanalua Valley native and 1996 Kahuku High School graduate. "He was great at what he did. He will ever be in his Marines' hearts and minds until the day we die."
Tsue, who was serving with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, Calif., was killed by a homemade bomb on Nov. 1 near Ar Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad.
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Marine Chaplain Daniel Whitaker followed six pall bearers as they carried the casket of Staff Sgt. Daniel Tsue during memorial services at Borthwick Mortuary yesterday. Tsue was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq on Nov. 1 while conducting combat operations.
His death brought the total to 72 people with island ties who have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
UNTIL RECENTLY, childhood friends Marc Togashi and Branden Nishikawa thought that Tsue was working in the U.S. Embassy in Japan, they said yesterday after the service at Borthwick Mortuary.
"About a month ago, he called me out of the blue and said he was stationed in a dangerous area of Iraq," Nishikawa said. "I said, 'Keep yourself safe. Don't take any chances. Don't be a hero.'"
Togashi and Nishikawa said they wouldn't have guessed back in elementary and intermediate school that Tsue would grow up to be a Marine. But they agreed that he had always been smart.
"Very smart," said Nishikawa.
"He was always trying to learn something," Togashi said.
Joan Murata, Tsue's aunt, recalled in her eulogy that, "At an early age, he delighted his grandfather by solving math equations in his head quicker than it could be written out."
|'He will ever be in his Marines' hearts and minds until the day we die'
After Tsue "aced" his college entrance exam, Murata said, the Marine Corps recruited him, and after just one semester at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, he accepted.
She read from a recent e-mail from her nephew in which he wrote: "I'm planning on doing a consecutive tour out here. So, I'll be here for another year or so. I figure since I'm single, I may as well stay out here and save some married guy from having to leave his family for six months."
That's the kind of person Tsue was, agreed Gunnery Sgt. Jose Soto, Tsue's team leader in Iraq. "He was genuinely a good person, one of those people who did the right thing."
While Tsue "had a relaxed, hair-down attitude about things," he was superb at his job. One of Tsue's habits after a mission was to "take off his boots and put on his flip-flops (slippers)," Soto said in an interview. "He always brought a piece of Hawaii with him."
SOTO GOT chuckles from funeral attendees when he told them that in his off hours, Tsue was on a mission to improve his fellow Marines' poker game.
"He never took our money," Soto said later. "That would be like taking candy from a baby."
Tsue's half-sister, Joy Takemoto, was choked with emotion as she described how grateful she was to have visited with him in June after not having seen him for 6 1/2 years.
"What little time we had was perfect. He was just such an awesome brother," she said.
As a Marine, Tsue served his fellow man, and in so doing served God as well, Marine Chaplain Daniel Whitaker said.
Tsue was awarded a Purple Heart and promoted posthumously from sergeant to staff sergeant.
Other survivors include his father, Richard; mother Deborah Takemoto; half-brother Alexander Takemoto; and grandmother Marian Tsue.
His ashes will be inurned at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.