laotian american serviceman killed in afghanistan helicopter crash

If you've been following the headlines, you might have heard about the 30 U.S. troops who died last week in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. Among the fallen soldiers was 26-year-old John Douangdara of Sioux City, Iowa: South Sioux City man among SEALs killed in Afghanistan.

Master at Arms Petty Officer 1st Class Douangdara, whose family immigrated from Laos 31 years ago, was Naval Special Warfare personnel, supporting the SEALs as a dog handler. He was aboard a Chinook helicopter with 37 others when the aircraft was shot down during an anti-Taliban operation in the Tangi Valley.
"I didn't even know Johnny was a Navy SEAL," his mother said. "I know that he loved his job, it was a job he chose."

The family's sadness was tempered with pride their brother and son served his country, a country that welcomed these Laotian immigrants 31 years ago.

"We are proud Johnny fought for the country that embraced our family and gave us the opportunity to reach for the American dream," said Chan Follen, the oldest of five children in the family.
Initial reports incorrectly identified Douangdara as a Navy SEAL, which probably led to his mother's confusion. He was reportedly in his fifth tour of duty in the Middle East. More here: Military officially IDs South Sioux soldier killed in crash.

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