Ramon Kaipat saw opportunity in the Marine Corps when he and his family moved to Tacoma from Saipan in the western Pacific in 2004.
His cousin Courtney Taisakan recalled Kaipat called him to ask about his own experiences in the Marine Corps and that he dropped a lot of weight to meet the corps’ rigorous physical standards.
Kaipat graduated from Mount Tahoma High School in 2007 and enlisted in the Marine Corps in following year.
“He looked up to the Marines,” said Taisakan, who served from 2006 to 2010.
Kaipat, a lance corporal, died Wednesday, local time, during combat operations in the Helmand province of Afghanistan, the Department of Defense announced. He was a rifleman assigned to 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Kaipat was on his second combat deployment. Kaipat is the sixth U.S. service member with ties to the state to die in Afghanistan this year; he is the 106th to die there since the war started in October 2001, according to a database maintained by The News Tribune.
Taisakan, who lives with Kaipat’s parents in Tacoma, was awakened by a knock at the door early Wednesday morning.
“When I saw their uniforms through the peephole, I knew something was wrong,” he said, referring to the casualty notification officers.
His cousin said Kaipat loved listening to music and spending time with his large family living in the area.
“He had a serous side to him,” he said. “From a glance, you might not think he was very social. He was very open to his family and he was a comedian. Very fun-living, but he had that man-of-the- house training from his father.”
In addition to his parents, Kaipat is survived by a younger brother, Pedro, and an older sister, Pearllita. They were on the East Coast on Thursday to escort his body home. Funeral arrangements are pending.
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