Louis Moua went to Sacramento City College after graduating from Merced High School in 2008, but he realized years later that college wasn’t for him.
Moua had a few friends who were in the armed forces and he wanted to serve his country. So he joined the U.S. Army, said David Lee, Moua’s brother-in-law.
After a career with the U.S. Army that included an eight-month tour in Afghanistan in 2014, 26-year-old Moua died Friday during an early morning run at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington, officials said.
Moua’s death is under investigation, according to Army officials, but the incident was described as a unit physical training accident, according to a news release from the 7th Infantry Division.
Moua was running with his unit through a wooded area Friday evening when he died. Madigan Army Medical Center emergency staff responded and transported him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“We’re so devastated,” Lee said, speaking on behalf of the family. “He’s like a Superman to us. To his nieces and nephews, he was their American hero.”
Surviving Moua are his wife, Song Lor, his daughters, 4-year-old Leiah Moua and 3-year-old Elvyna Moua, and the rest of his large but close family, Lee said.
Pierce County medical examiners said Moua was living in Lacey, Wash.
The infantryman was assigned to the 2nd Infantry Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, and arrived at the base in September 2015, according to the 7th Infantry Division.
Lee said Moua wrestled in middle school and high school.
Moua made a big impact on his friends, and family was very important to him, Lee said.
“There were two brothers in the family out of 12 siblings and he was the youngest brother,” Lee said. “And he really cared for them and loved all the kids.”
Lee said a traditional Hmong funeral will be conducted soon, although the time, date and place weren’t finalized as of Tuesday.
“On behalf of the Soldiers and Officers of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, I want to express my most heartfelt sympathies to the family of Spc. Louis Moua,” said Lt. Col. Troy Meissel, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Battalion. “The tragic event that occurred on July 8 was a significant loss for both you and the battalion. It has been an honor and privilege to have known and served with Louis.”