Marine looked to military as right path
The 21-year-old from the Philippines planned to make a career in the service
To his parents, 21-year-old Marine Pvt. Lewis Thomas Duquez Calapini was still a kid.
When they last saw him on leave over the holidays a year ago, he still played his video games.
"Even being so playful, he is a very serious man," said his father, Orencio Calapini Jr. "He was always looking for opportunities to rectify whatever mistakes he may have made in the path of life."
That, he believes, explains his son's career choice.
Lewis Calapini did not graduate from Waipahu High School, where he attended his freshman and sophomore years from 2000 to 2002. After hitting a rough patch, Calapini learned about the Hawaii National Guard Youth Challenge Academy.
There, he sought help, turned his life around and attained his high school diploma.
He joined the Marines in May 2004 and joined his unit in October 2004, according to a Hawaii Marine official.
Calapini was on his second deployment to Iraq, his father said, when, according to an Associated Press report, he was killed Monday in a vehicle accident about 45 miles west of Baghdad. Also killed in the accident was Lance Cpl. Joshua A. Scott, 24, of Tunnel Hill, Ga., the AP said.
The two were assigned to the Anti-Terrorism Battalion, 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., the AP reported.
"That's the most important thing: that he died for his country," Orencio Calapini said.
"I am so proud of my son," he said. "He was able to redirect his life to a fruitful kind of life he had when he joined the military."
Lewis Calapini was the younger of two children of Orencio and Helen Grace Calapini.
Orencio Calapini said Lewis wanted to go to college on the GI Bill and had a goal of obtaining a bachelor's degree.
"He said he would stick to the military even after finishing college," Calapini said.
He said Lewis "wanted challenge since birth."
Even as a little boy in the Philippines, he was "so precocious I knew he would turn out to be a military man," his father said.
His pet name for Lewis, whose first two initials are L.T., was "Lieutenant."
While the Calapinis still lived in Ilocos Norte in the Philippines, young Lewis would wear his grandfather's dog tags around his neck.
Orencio Calapini Sr. served as a Filipino Scout with the U.S. Army, said his son Orencio Jr., who tried to join the Navy but did not make it past the final screening.
U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said in a press release: "I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Pvt. Calapini. As a member of our island ohana, his death hits home especially hard.
"I join our entire community in extending heartfelt sympathy to his family, friends and fellow Marines.
"He was one of America's finest," he said. "We honor him for his courage, patriotism and devotion to duty."