Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Fort Hood victim grew up in Lompoc
A decade ago Kham Xiong was a quiet boy growing up in Lompoc with his 10 siblings, part of tightly knit Hmong community.
"It's pretty small so we know each other very well." said Xao Xiong, Lompoc, who is no relation of the shooting victim but knew him.
"The Xiong (pronounced che'-yong) family moved 10 years ago to St. Pual, Minn., and Kham Xiong, 23, later joined the U.S. Army. He had been stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, where he was training for deployment to Afghanistan in January, according to his family.
Kham Xiong was killed Thursday afternoon, one of the 13 soldiers and civilians killed when officials say an Army psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, began shooting handguns inside the Solider Readiness Center on the base.
"It was more than shocking," Xao Xiong said, about hearing the news.
Pastor Stephen Tia Xiong, a distant cousin of Kham Xiong, said the Lompoc Hmong community had been deeply affected by the loss.
"The little one used to come to our church," said Stephen Xiong, who oversses the Central Pacific Hmong Alliance Church in Lompoc.
"Everybody dies eventually, but it's just a travesty to be shot by our own people," Stephen Xiong added.
"Xao and Stephen both described Kham Xiong as a quiet and well-behaved boy.
"He was very friendly, a nice boy. He had lots of potential," said Stephen Xiong.
Pfc. Kham Xiong had grown up to become a husband, a father of three, and to carry on the family history of military service.
Xiong's father, Chor Xiong, is a native of Laos who fought the Viet Cong alongside the CIA in 1972; Chor's father, Kham's grandfather, also fought with the CIA; and Kham's brother, Nelson, 18, is a Marine serving in Afghanistan.
Xiong's father said he was "very mad," according to the Associated Press. Through sniffles and tears, he said his son died for "no reason" and he has a hard time believing Kham is gone.
Sister Mee Xiong said the family would be able to understand if he would have died in battle.
"He didn't get to go overseas and do what he's supposed to do, and he's dead...killed by our own poeple," Mee Xiong said.
Xiong's family came to the U.S. from Thailand when he ewas just a toddler. He grew up in Lompoc in the early and mid-'90s, according to Xao Xiong.
Kham Xiong is survived by his wife Shoua and their three children, ages 4, 2, and 10 months.
Shoua said they started dating in eighth grade, and the last time she saw her husband was Thursday morning at their Texas home.
She said he gave everyone a kiss and went to work. "It aws an ordinary day," shse said. After she heard about the shooting, she tried to call him, but never got an answer.
At 3 a.m. Firday, the doorbell rang.
"My heart dropped," she said. "I knew the resaon they were here, but I asked themto tell me he was OK."
This report contains informatio from the Associated Press.