Fairfax County native, Krisna Johnny Na Champassak, a Marine sergeant of Lao descent, was killed in a non-combat accident July 10 in Iraq, 25 days after he was posted there. Krisna was mourned and honored by the Lao community of the Washington D.C area in a memorial service at the Lao temple on Sunday, July 25. His father, Thinnat Na Champassak of Annandale, talks to VOA about how and when he received news of his son’s death.
The memorial service at Wat Lao was attended by hundreds of Laotians and Americans, including Mr. Douglas Hartwick, former U.S ambassador to Laos, and Mr. Phanthong Phommahasay, Laos ambassador to the U.S., as well as former USAID official John Tucker who gave the eulogy in English. Here's part of it:
"Johnny was born June 25, 1977 at Fairfax Hospital in Fairfax, VA and graduated from Lake Braddock High School in Burke, VA in 1995. Johnny who loved soccer and photography, proudly joined the Marine Corps on August 1, 1995.
In his early years, Johnny was remembered serving his community at the Lao Buddhavong Temple. Wearing an orange safety jacket, he helped others find parking during events and even picked up the trash after the events were over. Regardless of the weather, be it rain or sunny, he never complained but always greeted everyone with a reverent bow and a smile. Many a time he was seen carrying the alms bowls for the monks, or helping elders carry things to their cars. The list as we know goes on. In the midst of any chaotic situation, Johnny remained calm and helped others with their needs.
After high school graduation, Johnny chose to join the Marines. Johnny’s journey with the Marine Corps began in Parris Island, South Carolina, where he was assigned to the 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. He then attended the Marine Corps’ School of Infantry, Motor Transport School, and Service Support School in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Following North Carolina, Johnny’s journey brought him to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where he served in the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. While stationed in Hawaii, he was deployed twice to Okinawa, Japan, and attended Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Academy November 10, 1999. He also met his love Danile whom he married on June 26, 1999. Their love gave them a wonderful son, Jayven Nachampassak, born February 3, 2000.
Johnny and his family transferred to California June 11, 2000 to serve in the 374th Marine Wing Service Support in Twenty-nine Palms, California. On January 11, 2004, he transferred to the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Camp Pendleton as Platoon Sergeant. While assigned to the 3rd Battalion, he was sent to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. The assignment was very difficult for Johnny and his family, considering the chaotic situation in Iraq, but he felt it was his patriotic duty to serve his beloved country of birth.
And Johnny did indeed serve his country with pride and honor for nine long years. His personal awards and decorations included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon. He is survived by his wife, Danile Nachampassak; his sons Roman and Jayven; his parents, Thinnat and Khampane Nachampassak of Annandale, Virginia; and his brother Rajda (Randy) who is also serving our country proudly in the US Marines.
We will forever miss Johnny. But he has left us with his deep sense of commitment to family and country.
Let us give thanks today to Sergeant Krisna Nachampassak, a young Laotian-American patriotic gentleman whose life was dedicated to, above all else, giving to others.
Johnny you are a true American hero! You will be missed and remembered more than you ever know!!!"
Click on our report above to hear details about the memorial service at Wat Lao.