Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

United States Department of Defense
No. 318-05
DoD Identifies Marine Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Lance Corporal Tenzin Dengkhim, 19, of Falls Church, Virginia, died April 2, 2005, as a result of hostile action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Tibetan-American Buried Among American War Heroes

Marine Lance Corporal Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim has been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, the first Tibetan-American to be buried at the site reserved for American war heroes.


RFA Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon Dengkhim,
mother of Lance Corporal Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim, U.S. Marine killed in
action in Iraq, is presented with the American flag. The burial
was held Monday, April 11, 2005, at Arlington National Cemetery.

Dengkhim, 19, died as a result of “hostile action” April 2, less than one month after deploying to Iraq, the Pentagon said. He is the first Tibetan-American killed while serving in the U.S. military.

Some 100 people, many of them Tibetan-Americans, stood silently under a brilliant April sun as U.S. Marines draped Dengkhim’s coffin with a U.S. flag and fired a 21-gun salute.


United States Marines hold the American flag over the casket
of Lance Corporal Tenzin Choeku Denghim as Tibetan
monks pray in the background.

A lone bugler played Taps, the melody that signals “lights out” at U.S. military installations and dates from the American Civil War.

A half-dozen Tibetan Buddhist monks then chanted prayers.

Mother, don’t worry’

“He said he knew everything that was going on in Iraq, the situation in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He also knew that the training would not be easy,” his mother, RFA Tibetan service broadcaster Rinzin Choedon Dengkhim, said. “But he decided to go anyway.”


United States Marine Lance Corporal Tenzin Choeku Dengkhim.

 “When there was talk of his going to Iraq, he said, ‘Mother, don’t worry—we are trained for war. Though Iraq is not our country and it may not directly be our war, the situation is quite similar to the situation in Tibet, where people do not have freedom of speech or enjoy human rights.'”

In an interview last week, Dengkhim remembered her son as “a very good boy.”

“He was a very good boy, deeply religious, and [he] talked of serving Tibet as a soldier after he completed his military career as U.S. Marine,” Dengkhim’s mother said last week.

He was very devoted to his grandmother, who lives in Dharamsala [northern India]. He made sure that his grandmother was present at his Marine graduation ceremony.”

He was very fond of playing basketball every Sunday with other Tibetans,” she said.

From India to Utah and Virginia

Dengkhim graduated from George Marshall High School in Fairfax, Virginia, after moving with his mother and brother from Utah, where the family first settled in the 1990s.

Dengkhim, born in India in 1985, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on September 14, 2003.

He had been on active duty in Iraq less than a month at the time of his death. He enlisted in hope of saving money for college, according to a family friend.

U.S. military officials said Dengkhim appeared to have been killed in hostile action in the city of Hadithah, in Iraq’s Anbar Province.


Dengkhim is survived by his mother and older brother, Tenzin Fende Dengkhim, of Massachusetts.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/18/1985
  • DATE OF DEATH: 04/02/2005


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