COURTESY TULANG FAMILY
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Morgan Tulang poses with his bride, Megumi. CLICK FOR LARGE
Son of former county officials dies serving in Kuwait
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Morgan "Bajo" Tulang / St. Joseph High School graduate
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Morgan "Bajo" Tulang of Hilo died of an apparent heart attack Friday while serving at a military base in Kuwait in support of U.S. troops in Iraq, according to his family. He was 36.
Tulang, a 1988 graduate of St. Joseph High School in Hilo, is the son of Julie Tulang, a former head of the Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation, and Michael Tulang, a former Hawaii County Council member and former federal agricultural official.
Julie Tulang said yesterday that she received the news in a phone call at 2 a.m. Friday.
Stationed at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, Morgan Tulang had just gone to a military gymnasium to work out Friday, authorities told her. He was found slumped over on the equipment and could not be revived, she said.
She said she was grateful that at least he did not die from combat wounds -- otherwise the experience would have left her and her husband embittered.
Morgan had served 10 years on active duty in the Navy but went into the Reserves in 2002 to pursue a master's degree in business administration, his mother said.
Doing an internship in Japan, he met his wife, Megumi, and they had two children: Mia, 19 months, and Mitchell, 7 months.
The Navy notified him that he was being activated at about the time Mitchell was born in July, and they allowed him to postpone his service until January to be with his new child, Julie Tulang said.
During his regular service, he had been a supply officer, and in his new post in Kuwait, he was working as an air transportation logistics officer with duties related to 27 countries in the region, she said.
In a blog, Morgan made no reference to the U.S. effort in Iraq beyond saying, "All that it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." Instead his comments focused on being the best naval officer he could be and supporting his "beloved wife" and "chibis," a Japanese word roughly meaning "cute children."
In his childhood, Morgan was a "ferocious" reader, always with a book in front of his face, his mother said. He was always the last to be picked for athletic teams, but his teammates liked him anyway. "He kept the guys together," she said.
His friend from the third grade, Barry Usita, said friends had to tear him away from his books. Then he would compose comic book-style stories on the spot, with his friends as characters in the stories.
"He was one of the greatest friends I ever had. I'm going to miss him," Usita said.
Funeral arrangements in Hilo are pending, his mother said.